Thursday, October 19, 2006

Deja vu, or, the perspective afforded by 65 years

In the project to sleeve our unprocessed glass lantern slides in their little paper jackets, I have moved beyond the first two boxes and into the next on the shelf. When I opened "Miscellaneous" Boxes 2 and 3, I received a jolt of deja vu. In those two containers were slides which, according to the note, had been discovered in the Mac Hall Vault (Mac Hall has a vault??) nine years ago this month. All contain text or charts, and as I looked through them, I realized that the topics discussed in this speech (or speeches) were very much the same as the topics discussed in speeches donated to us last month on 35 mm slides.

In September, as he was transitioning into new offices here on campus, President Emeritus Dr. Peter O. Kohler donated to us five boxes of slides from presentations he made circa 1987-1998. While the collection remains unprocessed, we did make a short inventory of the contents. Broad topics include: budget, planning, and construction; physician workforce and medical education; and health insurance, particularly universal health care plans.

Looking through the glass lantern slides, which date from the period 1929-1931, I see many of the same topics repeated: medical education, physician specialization, medical economics, socialized medicine. It is fascinating to see the charts of gross physician income from 1929, or the graphs of growth in specialization over the fifteen years preceeding 1930, and to compare the ideas expressed then with the ideas expressed now.

Is there something about this particular University, or with Portland as a city, that has made faculty here so thoughtful, so committed, so active? Or is this the badge of healthcare professionals the world over? Comparing Oregon's Doctor Train for the 1906 earthquake with Northwest Medical Teams, or Esther Pohl Lovejoy's interest in universal health care with the Rx for Healthcare project in which Dr. Kohler is involved, highlights the fundamental principles that have guided healthcare from the earliest days to the present.

By the way, if you're interested in learning more about Lovejoy and her bold ideas, check out the great list of resources on Dr. Kimberly Jensen's website. Professor Jensen will also be presenting a talk on Lovejoy for the OHSU History of Medicine Society Lecture Series, on April 20, 2007. Save the date!

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