Tuesday, February 7, 2012

General Hospital (County USC) and a Breakthrough

I was so happy to have finally caught Huell Howser's California's Gold program about the now closed County General USC Hospital. It was so interesting, and moving because some of my family members had been treated there. My mother was in there about the time it was first built (1933). An uncle was patient there in the 1950's with a ruptured appendix. My father always talked about how his brother was put in a bed in a hallway because the hospital was so full, and there were no rooms. My family was appreciative of getting care there during hard times, even though it could be a harrowing experience. It was certainly better than nothing.
I wish the entire episode were posted on the internet; it was so interesting. The spookiest thing they showed was the room where families identified dead bodies. It was a cold room with curtains which would be opened for viewing. The body would be on a stretcher behind glass which reminded me of the nursery for babies. They showed the old operating theater. They also showed the ward rooms which contained 4 to 6 Beds per room. One of the nurses said there was one shower for the 20 patients. One TV per room, and one bathroom per room. Sometimes only one nurse for 12 patients. It was interesting to see the therapy pool from the 1930's. They showed the prison ward. The hospital had no air conditioning in the early days and patients often had to be put on IV's during the summer because they got dehydrated.
I've been looking for old  pictures of the interior of the hospital and wards. I have not found many online http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/search/controller/simplesearch.htm?page=1&x=1328565589006, but did find this site with some pictures of the 1933 hospital; and the previous one.
My Great-Grand Father Frank Kappel died in Cook County Hosp.
On the subject of County, Charity Hospital's, couple of my Chicago, Illinois ancestors died at Cook County Hospital in the early 1900's. These ancestors were mostly hard working immigrant factory workers, who couldn't afford to go anywhere except a charity hospital. I thought General Hospital was large with 1,600 beds. Cook County had 4000 beds!

Most of my rural ancestors never went to a hospital in early times through the early twentieth century. Even my urban ancestors rarely went to a hospital to give birth. It wasn't until the 1930s that babies were more often delivered in hospitals. My father was born in Chicago Memorial Hospital in 1933.  One exception was my Great-Grandmother Helen Mullen-Mason who gave birth to a baby at Hahnemann Hospital in Chicago, IL in 1906. When I ordered this birth certificate I was surprised by this. I talked to an Aunt, who was a nurse, and she thought there were likely some kind of complications with the birth that's why she was hospitalized. This sounded correct because the the baby girl born at 4 am apparently died.

Hahnemann homeopathic hospital
After receiving that birth certificate for Helen and Fred Mason's, baby about 12 year ago, I immediately tried to find anything about that hospital on the internet. I couldn't find anything about Hahnemann Hospital at the time. When I began searching for hospital info after Huell's show I remembered my brickwall regarding that hospital. I found the certificate today and started searching again, and I was so happy to find info about it!
It was a Homeopathic University Hospital. They believed in minimal intervention, and  minimal drug use for treatment. This may not have been a good approach since my Great Grandmother's baby died? So glad to find  a picture of this interesting building! I will have to read more about this hospital.

Glad again that I saw Huell's show! His show ended up in front of the new USC Hospital which looks really nice! I am glad they are not tearing down the old one. It is an important Los Angeles Landmark. Whenever I pass it I think about my family, and the General Hospital Soap Opera too.

Cook County Hospital 

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