Thursday, July 26, 2007

Notable name in nursing

Gale Storm Rankin, R.N.: clearly my favorite name in nursing (can't go wrong naming your children after meteorological events; just look at Rain Phoenix), and notable here at OHSU as well.

Rankin, a native of Klipsan Beach, WA, originally planned to become an elementary school teacher; to that end, she got a diploma from the Mount Angel Normal School in 1941. Her career plans were changed by the war, however, and she went on to receive her nursing diploma (1948) and a B.S. in "Teaching and Supervision" (1960) from the University of Oregon School of Nursing. She became Head Nurse at the Multnomah County Hospital in 1950, assistant director of nursing in 1954, and Director of Nursing Services in 1975. She served in that capacity through MCH's consolidation with the Medical School Hospital to form University Hospital (now called OHSU Hospital).

The year she was appointed Director at MCH, Rankin was also awarded Boss of the Year from the American Business Women's Association, Pacific Wonderland Chapter. On the nomination form, nurse Anna Fry wrote: "Mrs. Rankin's complete dedication to the welfare of patients has earned her the highest respect of not only her staff, but physicians, administrators, educators, and other community leaders." For all of her 33 years here at the University, she was a strong role model for all our healthcare providers.

And, lest you think her name gave her a tempestuous temper, consider that her dog was named Blue.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vox populi

Yesterday, we received a small package from our hard-working and talented Director of Community Relations, who is also a sometime contributor of items to our collections here. Inside were 1) a copy of Larsell's Development of medical education in the Pacific Northwest, with the author's presentation inscription to A.E. Mackay, and 2) a very fascinating report of an opinion poll conducted in 1980, surveying the residents of the state of Oregon on their familiarity with the then University of Oregon Health Sciences Center.

As probably anyone working at UOHSC at the time (and many of us around today who have had to navigate the former-name labyrinth) would have told the administration, the name "University of Oregon Health Sciences Center" apparently meant very little to anyone off the Hill. The name recognition for "University of Oregon Medical School," however, remained high, and impressions of the school were overall quite favorable. People were aware of the types of activities that took place here; that it was a university as well as a hospital, and that it was a center of innovative health care. So, the positive image remained intact, despite the adoption of the unwieldy moniker in 1974.

Dated 1980, the report must have played some role in then President Leonard Laster's campaign to unburden the institution of its six-word name, trimming it down to a mere four words: Oregon Health Sciences University. The people had spoken!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Favorite prescriptions?

Picking up Horace Green's 1872 publication, Selections from favorite prescriptions of living American practitioners (2nd edition), we find the following advice:
During the last two years, intermittent fevers have occurred more frequently, in some parts of this city [New York] and in the vicinity of the city, than for many previous years. In some of these cases, where the disease has proved obstinate, not yielding to large doses of Quinine, long continued, we have found it to be promptly arrested by the administration of a teaspoonful of the following mixture, twice or thrice a day--the last dose being administered a short time before the period of the anticipated paroxysm:
  1. Quiniae disulph. ... 3 j.
  2. Liquor. potassae arsenitis ... f.3 ij.
  3. Acidi sulph aromat. ... f.3 j.
  4. Tinct. cinch. co.
  5. Syr. zingib. ... aa.f. 3 ij.
When the preparations of Arsenic are employed, it is safest to give the medicine after a meal. When thus exhibited, larger, or more effectual doses may be given with more safety, than when taken fasting. Should, however, gastric irritation arise, under its use, or swelling and stiffness of the eyelids occur, the medicine should be immediately discontinued. [emphasis added]
Yes, "immediately discontinued," because if not, more things might be "promptly arrested," like breathing.

At least the title of the book does point out that these are the favorite prescriptions of physicians, not patients!

For more wacky medicines, check out some of the pharmaceutical preparations in the Medical Museum Collection on the Digital Resources Library. You can also read through some of the alternative takes on various herbs and other remedies in digital texts from the historical collections at the National College of Natural Medicine, our virtual and physical neighbors here in Portland (and the DRL).

Monday, July 23, 2007

Iconographic Swan

On Friday, we received a donation of 24 boxes of papers, photographs, books, and objects from the personal files of Dr. Kenneth Carl Swan, M.D. Along with more than three boxes of apparatus and instruments that had been delivered to us a few weeks ago, these materials will become the Kenneth Carl Swan Collection here at Historical Collections & Archives.

The boxes are very full, and very heavy, but there were a few loose items. This one certainly caught my eye--at first, I thought (hoped?) that it was a portrait on velvet. Even though the painting is on a paper surface, it does not fail to delight with its vivid and unusual symbolism.

Swan, past chair of the American Board of Ophthalmology, has been depicted as a swan a with human head, perched atop the human eye. The eye, flanked by its lashed lids, shows a small bleeding cut (lower right); a bubbling cauldron sends its steam up through the iris. Swan's love of sports is counterbalanced with a pile of what appears to be money (indicating success, I should think, and not greed). His long associations with Sigma Chi and with the Elks are also represented. I'm curious about the object that appears to be a toilet plunger, grasped in the swan's wing: was he an adept handyman, or is this perhaps some ophthalmological tool unfamiliar to the eyes of the layman? Perhaps one of the many boxes holds the key to this elaborate iconography....