Children’s Memorial Hospital: Gone, But Not Forgotten

Children’s Memorial Hospital: Gone, But Not Forgotten

Shortly before we closed Children’s Memorial Hospital in June of 2012 to move to our new home, Lurie Children’s, I was asked to give a number of talks on the history of the place. Being a medical history buff, I already had a number of pictures on hand and was ready to go. When the doors closed forever, some of my colleagues encouraged me to write a book.

I found Arcadia Publishing which is best known for its iconic Images of America series, which uses photos to chronicle the history of people and places. Since the hospital opened in 1882, we actually had an 1886 photo of an operation in a room that had no electric lights, no antibiotics, limited equipment and only the most rudimentary anesthesia.

Another photo from the 1930s shows rows of children sunbathing on a roof. At that time no one worried about getting sun burned or using sunscreen – instead it was an effective treatment for tuberculosis called heliotherapy (exposure to sun and fresh air). Everyone’s favorite photo seems to be where patients are sitting in a courtyard and are actually petting an elephant. It was not uncommon for the circus to visit a children’s hospital back in the 1930s and ‘40s. Can you imagine that happening today?

I came to Children’s Memorial in 1979 as the head of infectious diseases and have seen my own changes in medicine. But nothing can compare to seeing photos of an eight-bed cottage started by a grieving mother who lost her son to rheumatic fever (which is very treatable today)  to the 23 story, 288 bed facility called Lurie Children’s.

This book celebrates the history of Children’s Memorial, the spirit of its founder, Julia Foster Porter, and all the physicians, staff and patients who passed through its doors, making it a renowned hospital for over a century.

The book is available in area book stores and on Amazon.com. In keeping with the hospital’s benevolent tradition, all royalties from the book will be donated to Lurie Children’s.

By Stanford T. Shulman, MD, Division Head of Infectious Diseases, Avowed medical history buff
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