Thursday, November 29, 2007

A more polished stone turned

In the great big bonanza of new-to-us items from the Medical Museum Collection, there is a history of Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, Washington. Unlike the history of Vancouver Memorial, which we talked about yesterday, this history is a glossy, polished piece of institutional writing. Eight Decades of Progress: Deaconess Hospital, Spokane, Washington is heavily illustrated, having approximately as many images as it has pages.

The story begins in April 1892, when the first Deaconess Home opened in the private residence of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin P. O'Neill. There, Deaconesses Emma Kenyon and May Raymond cared for the "sick and needy." Much like the People's Institute & Portland Free Dispensary (which became the OHSU Outpatient Clinics), the Deaconess Home concerned itself with the social and spiritual welfare of their patrons as well as their physical welfare. In 1897, the Maria Beard Deaconess Home and Hospital was dedicated, thus inaugurating the history of the hospital as a freestanding institution.

The story continues up through the end of the 1960s, and then launches into some speculation about the future of Deaconess and health care in America ("Experts say that by the time the 1970's have become the 1980's, heart attack might be a thing of the past." I guess they're still working on that one.)

Not only are the predictions incorrect, some of the facts are noticeably wrong also. For example, we learn on page 2 that the home of the O'Neills was at 1209 W. 5th, while on page 3 the address is listed as 1205 5th. Again, new information almost inevitably leads to new questions...

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