Why a university hospital?

Today, the Academic Health Center continues to partner with Fairview Health Services on a shared clinical mission. The recent report “Evaluating the Integration of the Clinical Enterprise” to the Regents demonstrates how this nearly thirteen-year old relationship continues to develop.

There is an interesting historical division between those who knew and worked within the University Hospitals and those who have only known Fairview as the owner/operator of the University of Minnesota Medical Center. For the latter, Fairview has always owned the hospital and University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP) has always been the faculty group practice.

Yet, this view seems to imply that the transition was spontaneous and effortless on January 1, 1997. In fact, the early part of the 1990s was a major time of restructuring within the AHC and in health services in general that set the stage for this change. This reorganization included a new mission for the Board of Governors as well as a closer alignment to the University of Minnesota Clinical Associates, the then faculty practice.

For a snapshot of where the University stood in 1993 read the executive summary below. Find out why a university hospital was important then. And, whether it was absolutely necessary that the University owned the hospital.


Iron lung

So where do you keep your Iron Lung?

img0122.jpgA common question among archivists and museum curators in the health sciences, the answer usually involves an off site location that can handle the nearly half-ton piece of equipment. This model belongs to the University of Minnesota and sits idle in warehouse off campus.

I haven’t been able to determine its date of manufacture. The Emerson Co. ceased production in 1970. Its model no. is R, serial no. W. A repair tag indicates the last service date was in 1978.

img0121.jpgThis model is likely from the 1950s. The early Emerson Iron Lungs from the 1930s were a baby blue color. The Smithsonian has the first Emerson model. The Minnesota Historical Society reportedly has a baby-blue Emerson in storage. J. H. Emerson became synonymous with the respirator after his less expensive model usurped the market from the Drinker Respirator developed at Harvard in 1929.

For most of us, looking at an Iron Lung stirs up a sense of claustrophobic restlessness. For those whose lives were saved by the device, a much more complicated set of feelings must be invoked. As of 2004, an estimated 40 people still relied on the respirators to survive.

The people who benefited from the Iron Lung did so with the help of others. They were not just placed inside and parked. The respirator was designed to be as portable as possible despite its weight and reliance on electricity.

A 1953 article in the Minnesotan, a publication for faculty & staff, details the behind the scenes work with the respirators at the University Hospitals. The article describes the care and upkeep of the machines, the planning and process to always have enough on hand at the height of polio outbreaks, and the ways in which patients and their respirators were moved and transported including the use of 50 foot extension cords to go from electrical outlet to outlet and police escorts. Learn more in the article below.


Elliot Memorial Hospital dedication

“If we believe in our form of government, we have a right to expect that the State should and will administer public business. We believe that education is the business of the State and that teaching for physicians and nurses should be in reality a training in social service. We believe therefore that Minnesota has done wisely and we deem our optimism well founded.”

The above is from the comments Dean Wesbrook made at the dedication ceremony for the newly opened Elliot Memorial Hospital on September 5, 1911. However, the dedication booklet below reveals that the state appropriated only one-fifth of the required sum. In comparison to Wesbrook’s remarks, this seems to be a smaller than expected amount.

The hospital was primarily funded by a $113,000 gift to honor the hospital’s namesakes, the late Dr. and Mrs. Adolphus Elliot. With accumulated interest and additional donations the total amount privately raised for the hospital equaled $162,000. The State of Minnesota provided the remaining $40,000 necessary to purchase the land and construct the new facility.

The booklet also includes a brief history of the push to establish a teaching hospital on campus by Dr. J. E. Moore, the dedication address by University of Minnesota president, George Vincent, details of the Elliot Endowment and other donors, and essays on the value of teaching hospitals by Dr. Charles Moore and the newly organized School for Nurses by Dr. Richard Olding Beard as well as the teaching hospital’s economic benefit to the state by Dr. Charles Mayo.

Some interesting statistics of the first year of the hospital are included at the end:

Number of patients admitted to the hospital during the first year: 912
Number of patients seen through outpatient services: 33,190
Number of outpatient prescriptions filled: 13,513


Respectfully submitted

img0109.jpgThe first meeting of the Board of Governors of the University of Minnesota Hospitals and Clinics was called to order at 1:35 pm by Chairman Atwood in Room 555 Diehl Hall. The Chairman then introduced Mr. Lauris Krenik, Chairman, Board of Regents Health Sciences Committee.

And so began the first recorded meeting of the Board of Governors, a governing board for the U of M Hospitals and Clinics established by the Board of Regents in order to act as the fiscal agent for UMHC and satisfy the requirements of the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation for University-owned teaching hospitals.

The acquisition of the Board of Governor records came from two separate locations. First, a filing cabinet in the basement of Children’s Rehabilitation Center held 26 3-ring binders that contained the minutes of most meetings. The second acquisition was from several filing cabinets in a storage room in 555 Diehl Hall, the former meeting place of the Board. This second cache of records had additional meeting minutes, board correspondence and reports. My thanks go to Maureen Lally of AHC Communications and Elaine Challacombe of the Wangensteen Historical Library for bringing these two locations to my attention.

These two separate acquisitions have been processed into a single collection and are available for use at the University of Minnesota Archives.

Additionally, the minutes of all Board meetings plus a few additional reports have been digitized and are now available online through the University Digital Conservancy. The material in the digital archives represents twenty years worth of recorded documentation and consists of over 17,500 pages of paper records converted to digital format.

Read through the first year’s minutes below or search for related material in the digital archives.


What did this place used to be?

img0097.jpgWhat did the Center for Spirituality and Healing’s Meditation Room used to be? It is a trick question. The answer is: a meditation room.

The Meditation Room located in the courtyard of the Mayo Memorial served as a gathering place for families and individuals needing a quiet place to think and reflect for more than 20 years. After the construction of the new hospital in 1986, the space then sat quietly, not in reflection, but idle for over a decade. In 2000 the room was assigned to the Center for Spirituality and Healing and used as a laboratory for research on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

In 1965 the Meditation Room opened as a place for “people of all faiths to commune, to give thanks and to renew their spirits.” The room was an addition to the Mayo Memorial Building provided by a single anonymous donor to the tune of approximately $175,000.

Although the room and building have many symbolic Judeo-Christian elements (Gothic arches, sculpture of the burning bush, etc.), it is often incorrectly referred to as the chapel. The original intention for the space was simply to provide a quiet place for reflection and renewal.

The stained glass for the room was designed and installed by William Saltzman in accordance with the wish of the donor.

The brochure below discusses the details regarding the building’s design and themes.


History on the walls

The halls of the Mayo Memorial Building seem to have little bits of history scattered throughout. There is a plaque here, a picture there, and even the occasional bronze bust.

img0091.jpgThe other day I walked by a plaque and series of pictures that seem to be lost in a moment of time. The plaque honors those who were selected and served as Chief of Medical Staff. The full text reads:

University Hospitals herewith recognizes and extends its appreciation to each of those who has served the hospitals as Chief of Staff and Chairman of the Medical Staff – Hospital Council.

Chosen by his colleagues to receive this honor, each has represented the Medical Staff and has participated in the development of policies and programs of the Hospitals.

The names inscribed on the plate are

Dr. Harold O. Peterson, 1966-1968
Dr. Lyle A. French, 1968-1970
Dr. John Najarian, 1970-1972
Dr. Donald Hastings, 1972-1974
Dr. Paul Winchell, 1974-1979
Dr. Paul Quie, 1979-1984
Dr. James Moller, 1984-1989
Dr. Robert Maxwell, 1989-

And there the list ends. Somewhere in the middle of Dr. Maxwell’s term with plenty of room left on the brass plate.

Did the administrative offices connected with the plaque move shortly after the 1989 addition of Dr. Maxwell and then leave it behind? Did Dr. Maxwell serve until the transfer of the hospitals to Fairview in 1996? Did Dr. Maxwell finish his tenure but never replaced? Questions I have yet to answer.

Marie Manthey papers

img0086.jpgOn the third floor in the Mayo Memorial Building’s “C” Corridor there is a small plaque on the wall. This marker is about the only remaining evidence of Station 32 in the old University Hospital.

The plaque recognizes the efforts of the station nurses led by Marie Manthey, then Assistant Director for Nursing, for their work to transform the concept of nursing within the hospital environment. It reads

On this site in 1969 Marie Manthey and a group of pioneering nurses created the system of Primary Nursing. From its beginning on Nursing Station 32 at the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinic the philosophy of Primary Nursing has become the gold standard of nursing care delivery throughout the world.

As part of the History Project’s focus to collect and make available the historical material that documents the development of health care delivery and education at the University of Minnesota, I am happy to announce the recent acquisition of the Marie Manthey papers.

The collection includes correspondence, research notes, writings and clippings related to Manthey’s work in primary nursing and her seminal publication The Practice of Primary Nursing. Manthey, who also served as one of the original Board of Governors for the University Hospitals, later founded the primary nursing consulting firm Creative Health Care Management in 1978.

To learn more about the Station 32 Project and the initial studies conducted, read the Project 32 Preliminary Report from January 1969.


Masonic Cancer Hospital 50th anniversary

The University of Minnesota and the Masonic Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota celebrated the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Masonic Cancer Hospital at the University of Minnesota on Saturday, October 4th.

Planning for the hospital and fund raising activities began in 1955 with the establishment of the Masonic Cancer Relief Committee of Minnesota. The Grand Lodge of Minnesota originally pledged to provide $500,000 for the construction of the hospital but quickly raised the 1 million dollars to fund the entire project.

Harold Diehl, dean of the College of Medical Sciences, described the effort to build the hospital as “one of the most humanitarian enterprises that has ever come to my attention.

Look through the 1958 dedication booklet below to learn more about the establishment of the Masonic Memorial Cancer Hospital at the University of Minnesota.


Rules and regulations

Rule #1: Keep your Friday lunch open.

That is rule number one in the nineteen point Rules and Regulations of the University of Minnesota Hospitals approved October 11, 1961.

The Rules, approved by Dean Robert Howard and Ray Amberg, Director of University Hospitals, represent a carefully worded outline of expectations and duties for faculty physicians on staff at the University Hospitals.

The Rules, however, were not formulated without some criticism and changes.

After reviewing a draft version in the spring of 1961, Dr. John McKelvey, Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology, objected to the provision in item number 2 that all patients seen at the University of Minnesota Medical Center be referred by a private physician. He noted that most staff and students’ wives are seen in Obstetrics without such a referral. His suggested substitution was accepted as added language to the rule allowing “Obstetrical patients without a referring physician.”

After the Rules were distributed, Dr. Richard DeWall submitted a complaint regarding item number 15 and the need for all staff to secure autopsies. Dr. DeWall responded by expressing his concern that the effort to secure autopsies would surpass their usefulness and that house staff, not the attending physician, could complete the task.

Also, note an early version of HIPAA in rule number eighteen.

Read the Rules and Regulations below and see you at noon on Friday.


Part of the process

img0069.jpgWhen collecting the records of an active institution, material trickles in over time, sometimes out of sequence and almost always with the promise of “there’s more where that came from.”

There are also discreet sets of material within an institution related to a particular project or office that is no longer in operation. This material is easier to bookend with a beginning and an end, but often comes to the archives in batches over a period of time. Such is the case with the records of the Board of Governors, an institutional body charged with the management of the University Hospitals from 1975-1996.

In October 2006 I discussed the acquisition of an almost complete run of the BoG minutes. I then identified an existing collection of BoG material already located at University Archives. A year later, my good friends at the Wangensteen Historical Library opened up a locked filing cabinet and discovered nearly 12 boxes worth of additional material related to the Board of Governors’ activities.

For an institutional body that ceased to exist almost 12 years ago, the BoG had the ability to generate records faster than I could collect them.

Now, with the assistance of University Archives, all sets of material related to the Board of Governors are being organized as a single collection that will be available for research and administrative use.

Read the minutes from the first Board of Governors’ meeting held on January 15, 1975: