Book Launch Marks Hospital’s 150th Anniversary
Newswise — With 537 pages and 150 photographs, “Anatomy of a Hospital” chronicles the history of the nation’s oldest hospital for orthopedics, from its beginnings in a doctor’s home to help destitute children with disabilities to the premier hospital it has become today. From its founding during the Civil War to the present, the book’s history of the hospital parallels the history of medicine, of New York City and of the nation during that time period.
Some might be surprised to learn that Hospital for Special Surgery, a world-renowned hospital for orthopedics, was founded when a kindhearted doctor opened a 28-bed hospital for destitute children in his private New York City residence on Second Avenue, just below 6th Street. Seeking to rescue young street beggars with severe disabilities, Dr. James Knight opened the Hospital for the Relief of the Ruptured and Crippled, as it was called, in 1863.
So begins the story of Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). It was the middle of the Civil War and, as the book states, disease, poverty and unemployment were rampant in New York City. Most people were poor and had little access to medical care.
In “Anatomy of a Hospital,” Dr. David B. Levine tells the extraordinary story of how the nation’s oldest orthopedic hospital grew to become a world leader in its specialties of orthopedic surgery and rheumatology. The book chronicles the hospital’s challenges and successes over a century and a half of growth. At the same time, Dr. Levine details medical advances over that time period, showing how medical care emerged from the “Dark Ages” to become modern medicine as we know it today.
As New York City expanded to become a leading financial, cultural and social force over 150 years, Hospital for Special Surgery grew into an international leader in musculoskeletal treatment, education and research, building a reputation as a pioneer in joint replacement, spine surgery, rheumatology research and other areas. Famous patients included John F. Kennedy, who had several surgeries to correct a back injury he had sustained during World War II, and Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican artist, who also had spine surgery.
The Hospital for the Relief of the Ruptured and Crippled was the first hospital in New York City to create a public school within a hospital. Since many children with crippling diseases remained as inpatients for years, school classrooms were provided and Manhattan PS 401 was established in the hospital.
Other interesting facts:
1887: The hospital established the first orthopedic residency program in the United States and a house staff as we know it today.
1907: The polio epidemic brought an increased number of patients to the hospital not only from the city and suburbs, but from upstate New York.
1910: The hospital, at its second location on the corner 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, sold the property it was on to the New York Central Railroad for 1.35 million dollars, and in 1912, moved to its third location at 321 East 42nd Street. Grand Central Terminal was built adjacent to the hospital’s former location.
1971: Dr. John Marshall organized the first Sports Medicine Clinic at HSS, believed to be the first such clinic in New York
Today, Hospital for Special Surgery, located at 535 East 70th Street (near the FDR Drive), is consistently ranked as a leader in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. Sports fans know HSS as the team doctors for the Mets, the New York Giants, New York Knicks and the New York Liberty, among others.
Dr. Levine, emeritus attending orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery and professor emeritus of clinical orthopedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, spent eight years writing the book. A spine surgeon at HSS for 28 years, he served as director of the Scoliosis Service and was later director of Orthopedic Surgery.
A history buff, Dr. Levine has been the hospital’s “self-appointed archivist” since 2003.
He had an extraordinary amount of material on which to base his book, including every annual report from HSS dating back to the 1800s. The hospital also has managed to preserve patient records dating back to the day it opened on May 1, 1863. Dr. Levine also located photos from as far back as 1887 to feature in his book, which he calls “a labor of love.” Other HSS staff contributed various chapters, including the history of anesthesia, how x-rays and other diagnostic tools changed the face of medicine, and current challenges to the modern-day health care system.
Today, Hospital for Special Surgery has 205 patient beds and nearly 4,000 employees. With 35 operating rooms, more than 27,000 surgical procedures were performed last year. There were more than 300,000 outpatient visits to rheumatologists, physiatrists, orthopedic surgeons and other specialists affiliated with HSS last year. The hospital receives millions of dollars in research grants annually from the National Institutes of Health and other organizations.
“Anatomy of a Hospital” is available for purchase on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0979668522) and on the hospital’s web site: www.hss.edu/store.
About the Author
DAVID B. LEVINE, M.D., has published more than a dozen articles on the history of medicine over the past 30 years and has lectured widely on Civil War medicine. He is
emeritus attending orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery and professor emeritus of clinical orthopedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is also director of Archives at the hospital and of the Alumni Association. He serves as historian of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons.
Educated at Dartmouth College, he received his medical degree from Upstate Medical University College of Medicine at Syracuse in 1957. He trained in medical centers in Cleveland, Boston, Los Angeles and New York before serving aboard the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Medical Corps in 1959.
After completing a fellowship in scoliosis in California in 1966, Dr. Levine returned to New York and was appointed to the staff of Hospital for Special Surgery as an orthopedic surgeon. He served as director of the Scoliosis Service and then as director of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the hospital. He was a founder and past president of the Scoliosis Research Society.
Retiring from active patient care in 1995, he and his wife, Janet, an artist, moved to Florence, Italy, where he lectured at Careggi Orthopaedic Hospital, restored antique furniture and mastered Italian cooking. They returned to New York in 1997.
About Hospital for Special Surgery
Founded in 1863, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is a world leader in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 3 in rheumatology, No. 10 in neurology and No. 5 in geriatrics by U.S. News & World Report (2012-13), and is the first hospital in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center three consecutive times. HSS has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. From 2007 to 2011, HSS has been a recipient of the HealthGrades Joint Replacement Excellence Award. HSS is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System and an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.