Friday, May 30, 2008

Two reminders for the end of one month and the beginning of another

With one day remaining in May, a reminder that this month has been designated Preservation Month by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. May 1 was the occasion of a MayDay Call to Action by the Society of American Archivists, who are enlisting the help of the public in saving archives of all types. We here at OHSU developed a list of resources for folks to turn to for information about preserving family treasures and other important historical documents. If you haven't already, take one of these remaining days of May to consider what materials in your possession are in need of a little loving care, and whether some might be worth depositing in a repository near you.

And a reminder for the first day of June: the official dedication of Richard T. Jones Hall for Basic Medical Sciences will take place this Sunday, June 1. The celebration of Dr. Jones' life and work will begin at 2:00 pm in the Old Library Auditorium, and then conclude next door with the dedication ceremony.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

History of child guidance clinics in Oregon

A small pamphlet in the PNW Archives Collection describes the history and early development of the Child Guidance Extension program in Oregon. Written by Allan East, social worker and sometime medical historian, the essay touches on the history of child guidance clinics in America generally before moving on to a consideration of the child guidance movement in Oregon.

East credits Chicago with the development of the first child guidance clinic in 1909. The idea did not take hold here in Oregon until 1932, when the University of Oregon Medical School first began its Portland Child Guidance Clinic. That was, incidentally, the same year in which a Dept. of Psychiatry was formally established at UOMS, with Henry H. Dixon, MD, as department head.

In 1937, fulfilling its mission to improve the health of all Oregonians, the University broadened the child guidance program throughout the state, in an extension program that sought to develop and maintain clinics in small communities far from Portland. East declares: "Never before had the administration of the Medical School officially, and in the name of the school, underwritten an activity to extend so far beyond the confines of the campus." But the administrative involvement of the school was deemed necessary, and was--by the time of East's writing in 1939--proving to be critical to the success of the clinics in these rural settings.

Contemporary glass lantern slides in the Historical Image Collection here--probably used by East and/or Dixon in presentations about the Oregon experience--contain some statistics and organizational information about the guidance clinic program, and nicely complement the printed reports.

East's opening comments may sound a bit familiar to modern ears, exposed to the rising concerns over a doomsday scenario of genetic manipulation of fetal development. Just replace "society" with "science":
Many students of sociology today contend that, insofar as society may be said to create the individual, it should create individuals with "traits" or "dispositions" essential to the general welfare.
Another report in the OHSU collections, Child Guidance in Oregon, with recommendations of the Governor's Special Committee, includes a section at the end entitled "Suggested changes in the marriage law of the State of Oregon." When does guidance become eugenics? Where should nature--true nature--take precedence over nurture? As history shows, these questions too are not new under our sun.

UPDATED Sept. 29, 2009: Allan East was not a physician, but rather a social worker. Thanks to Tim Marsh for correcting us.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New dissertations in the history of medicine

Thanks and kudos to John Erlen, History of Medicine Librarian at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, for pulling together a web list of various dissertations recently published in the history of medicine and medical humanities. The history of nursing and pharmacy are also included as subtopics.

The monthly lists go back through June of 2001, and provide a valuable source of information on these often elusive publications. Links out to the citations and abstracts in ProQuest provide enough information to help you determine whether the study will be of interest to you.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dermatology: more than skin deep

Finishing up the edits on the transcript from the oral history interview with Dr. Frances Jean Judy Storrs, M.D., I came across what has to be the best plug ever for people to go into dermatology. Interviewer Matt Simek asks Storrs to describe her most unusual case. Read through the slightly creepy bits to get to the heart of dermatology's attraction:

SIMEK: Have you ever had a most perplexing case? Or one that just stands out in your mind as being the most innovative solution or the most intriguing or the most incredible case?

STORRS: Well, in the contact dermatitis work that I do, I see, you know, lots and lots of fun and interesting cases. They’re almost all things that we can solve. But I’ve had a couple of patients who I remember dramatically. One of them is, well, I guess three. One of them is a young man who is still alive who has a severe blistering disease. A horrible blistering disease where his hands look like this, they’re totally in a glove shape. And he has just a little tiny movement of his thumb. He has blisters all over his body, and he has to come here two or three times a week for dressings and physical therapy. And then his whole body is covered in dressings. And he has difficulty eating. So any mucosal surface of his body is in terrible straits. The inside of his mouth is filled with blisters.

And he told me once, he said, “The one thing that bothers me the most about this disease–” he’s managed, he’s lived a long while and he’s done some wonderful things. He’s a great inspiration. He says, “The thing that bothers me the most about this disease is it never goes away. I never get a holiday from this disease.” And many of the other diseases that we have, we can in fact treat people and give them holidays from it. They can have a vacation. He can never have a vacation.

So that’s one of the horrors of genetic diseases, certain genetic diseases. And it makes us be very excited about the new basic research that’s being done in genetics. Because some of those things have potential for solution in the future.

The second patient I had that I can remember very well is a woman with horrible psoriasis. Arthritic psoriasis of all of her joints and her wrist. And the only place she didn’t have psoriasis was where she wore rings and bracelets. Copper bracelets and rings on her fingers. And those fingers were perfect. And all the other fingers were misshapen from psoriatic arthritic changes. So that made me mindful of the role that alternative medicine and faith and the patient and placebos, that all those things can play in medicine.

And the third patient is one, another person with a genetic disease who had numerous, numerous skin cancers on his body, and eventually became very misshapen and eventually died. And watching him from his childhood until he died, and looking after him during that period of time, punctuated, for me, the role that really awful skin disease can play in families. Because his disease had a catastrophic effect on his family. And there are many, many other skin diseases that do the same thing.

As I tell people all the time, lots of people think that dermatology is acne. The people that we really look after, the population never sees. Because what they have is so awful and so difficult for them until we can look after them and make them better that they’re home. They’re covered up. They’re home, they’re in their houses, and they’re not out where you can see them. So we have a chance to really, maybe more than any other specialty, make really dramatic, visible changes in people’s lives so they’re able to regain control of their lives in a way that they wouldn’t be able to do if we weren’t able to look after them. So that’s cool.