Friday, January 08, 2010

More Stories From the Clippings

Can you take me to the Richard B. Dillehunt Teaching Hospital?

In the Spring of 1953, high above the city of Portland, the University of Oregon Medical School's $6,300,000 teaching hospital began to rise, reaching its zenith at 14 floors. Visitors who came to tour the hospital at the March 3, 1956 dedication were astonished by the panoramic views of Mt. Hood and the Cascades, the state of the art architecture and the modern medical and teaching facilities.

When the work began, in recognition of Dr. Richard Benjamin Dillehunt's dedicated hard work, the Oregon State Medical Society recommended to the Oregon State Board of Control that the new teaching hospital be named for the dean emeritus. The Board approved the recommendation and passed their recommendation on to the Board of Higher Education, whose responsibility it was to make the final decision. What had Dillehunt accomplished that could afford him this honor?

Hired as a professor of anatomy at UOMS, Dillehunt became the 3rd dean of the school in 1920, following on the impressive heels of Dean K. A. J. Mackenzie. "Dilly", as he was affectionately known, was a highly honored orthopedic surgeon, who was known for his love of children and was the chief surgeon at the Shriner's Hospital for Crippled Children for 19 years. During his tenure, he headed campaigns for major expansion on Marquam Hill, including the construction of the Multnomah County Hospital, Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for Children and the State Tuberculosis Hospital. He served with the Base Hospital 46 during WWI, climbing to the rank of Major. His affiliations, memberships, honors and accolades go on for miles. Dillehunt never married and some say he was too dedicated to "his school" to marry.

He died at home of a heart attack on October 31, 1953.

So where is the R. B. Dillehunt Teaching Hospital you might ask? The recommendation that he be honored by naming the teaching hospital after him was laid aside. The policy of the Board was not to name a building after a living person. Perhaps Dillehunt's legacy at UOMS surpassed any tribute that might have been chiseled in stone.

But wait! It was decided in 1989, nearly 40 years after his death, that Dillehunt should receive the honor that many felt he deserved. "The Old Doernbecher Hospital", erected while Dillehunt was dean, still stands today and proudly pays homage to his name.

Articles referenced: f1_p20_21_22_23_75

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