Wednesday, November 14, 2007

140 years of surgical history

On Monday, we heard some opinions about the influence of surgery in the 21st century; now, we can read more about the influence of surgery since the 19th century in a new work just published by the OHSU Department of Surgery. History of the Department of Surgery, 1867-2007 was written by Patricia Southard, R.N., J.D., and edited by many notable surgical faculty past and present including Drs. John Hunter, Don Trunkey, Cliff and Karen Deveney and several others.

The volume includes a short history of the University, a history of the Dept. of Surgery, and histories of the surgical divisions (general surgery, pediatric surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, trauma and surgical critical care, cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, surgical oncology, urology and kidney transplantation, liver and pancreas transplantation, orthopedics, and neurosurgery). Based on source materials here in Historical Collections & Archives as well as departmental records, the Oregonian news archives, and the institutional memory held only in the brains of senior practitioners from the community, the story begins with the establishment of the Willamette University Medical Department in 1867 and extends right up through late 2007 (Dr. Albert Starr's reception of the 2007 Lasker Award and the performance of the first natural orifice transluminal endoscopic procedure by teams at OHSU and Ohio State University in September are both included). A six-page timeline of departmental highlights supplements the narrative.

Interestingly, a whole chapter of this institutional history is devoted to "The Downtown Surgeons." Conflicts between town and gown have long been a feature of the history of medicine in Portland, but it is equally true that the university as we know it today would not exist without the myriad valuable contributions of private practice physicians who did donate and continue to donate their time and effort to advancing the missions of teaching, healing, and research. The Dept. of Surgery history formally recognizes several of these contributors, including Drs. John B. Cleland, Lewis P. Gambee, William Garnjobst, and Roger Alberty, who is currently Director of Surgery at Providence St. Vincent Hospital.

Dr. Hunter's introduction nicely summarizes the history of the department over the last 140 years:
In researching the history of the department, the common theme that emerged was the presence of a pioneer spirit that allowed individuals with imagination to push the frontiers of surgery, but required that progress be forged by dint of determination and resourcefulness rather than privilege and entitlement.
To get your hands on this history, watch for this slim volume to appear in the catalog.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Lovejoy was my great-great aunt. Your comments are appreciated. I have much to share about her, including photos, stories, and antecdotes. If anyone is interested, post.

Sara Piasecki said...

Yes, we'd be very interested in whatever materials you'd like to share! Please send me some contact information so I can reach you directly. You can email homref @

Kimberly Jensen said...

I am researching and writing a biography of Esther Lovejoy. I would welcome the chance to learn more from you about your perspective on her life and accomplishments.
Kimberly Jensen
Professor of History
Western Oregon University