Howard Lilienthal and the Creation of Modern Thoracic Surgery

A portrait of Howard Lilienthal, MD done by Frank Netter, MD. Netter served in a Mount Sinai surgical clinic in the early 1930s.

This year marks the centennial of the creation of the Thoracic Surgery Service at The Mount Sinai Hospital, today’s Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Howard Lilienthal, MD was the first Chief of the Division and was a pioneer in the field. Later that same year (1914), he performed the first successful pulmonary lobectomy for inflammatory disease of the lung in the United States.  Much of his surgical work was made possible by the 1910 development by Charles Elsberg, a fellow surgeon at Mount Sinai, of a successful method of endotrachial anesthesia, allowing for open chest surgery.

Howard Lilienthal lived from 1861-1946.  Over his long career, he developed seven instruments and devices (a bullet probe and forceps, a portable operating table, a rib spreader, etc.), pioneered new operations, wrote many articles, and served in a variety of roles in various professional groups.  He was President of the New York County Medical Society as well as both the New York and the American Society for Thoracic Surgery, and a founder of what became the American Cancer Society.  In 1925 he published a two volume work on Thoracic Surgery, the first such textbook in this country; it was an instant classic.  Lilienthal was an officer in World War I, serving with Mount Sinai’s Base Hospital No.3 in France, as well as being placed in other hospitals that needed his expertise.  He was cited for a Distinguished Service Medal, but it never arrived. His only son, Howard Jr., died in 1918 while serving with a British regiment.

Lilienthal has been described as “elegant and aristocratic, very much in keeping with the Mt. Sinai tradition” of his time. He enjoyed fly fishing and painting, and when his failing eyesight ended his artist’s career, he wrote short stories for children. When he died in 1946, Mount Sinai mourned the loss of one of their best and most beloved surgeons.

 

Annenberg Building Dedicated 40 Years Ago This May

Vice President Gerald R. Ford and Walter Annenberg at the dedication of the Annenberg Building, May 26, 1974

On May 26, 1974, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was the principal speaker at the dedication of Annenberg Building, the home of the then new Mount Sinai School of Medicine. This celebration marked the culmination of two decades of work by Mount Sinai trustees and staff to raise the $152 million necessary to hire the faculty, create the curriculum, build the needed facilities and then find students willing to come to a new school with new ideas on medical education. The building was named for the Annenberg family because the eight children of Mrs. Moses (Sadie) Annenberg were early supporters of the fund raising campaign that created the School. The building was built to house the School of Medicine, but ultimately also had important spaces for The Mount Sinai Hospital, as well.

When the Annenberg Building opened, it had all the latest in technology, including ‘playback equipment for taped teaching aids’ and overhead closed circuit televisions. The Hospital side boasted a “computerized drug profile” for each patient and an automated medical record retrieval system. The radiology equipment was the latest, including a new ultrasound machine capable of displaying the anatomy of heart valves.

In his address, Ford said (as quoted in the NY Times), “I believe that cooperation and compromise are the only means by which our form of government – in this field and others – can move ahead successfully.” He had “hope and belief” that a national health insurance program would be enacted later in 1974.

In less than three months, Gerald Ford became President of the United States when Richard Nixon resigned. He had not mentioned Nixon’s name in his speech at Mount Sinai.

Mount Sinai in the First World War

A detail from a display case showing the dog-tags that belonged to Charles F. Naumberg. He is in the picture to the left.

This summer marks the centennial of the beginning of the First World War, sparked in June 1914 by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

When the United States entered the war in 1917, the U.S. Army called on American hospitals to enlist their doctors and nurses to serve the war effort. Members of the Mount Sinai staff were organized as U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 3 and stationed at Vauclaire, a fourteenth-century monastery in southern France that had been converted to a hospital.

Two of the display cases highlight Mount Sinai’s Base Hospital No. 3. The third case features pages from a scrapbook created by Marion Moxham, RN, a graduate of the Mount Sinai Training School for Nurses. She started at Base Hospital No. 3 and was then transferred to units in Germany. Her scrapbook provides a fascinating look at life in the Army medical services during World War I.

A page from the Moxham scrapbook. Note the memo from the Chief Nurse top left: “Nurses are not allowed to dance outside of their own hospital”.

This exhibit of material from the Mount Sinai Archives demonstrates how the hospital responded to one of the twentieth century’s first major crises. Twenty-five years later, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the government would once again ask The Mount Sinai Hospital to form and support an Army unit.

Women As Blood Donors – 1918

Extract from the minutes of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of The Mount Sinai Hospital, November 1918

With World War I going on and the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 raging, The Mount Sinai Hospital Board of Trustees found it prudent to agree to the Medical Board’s request to allow women to serve as blood donors. This was a transitional period in transfusion medicine when indirect transfusion existed (what we are familiar with today), but when direct transfusion – donor to recipient, lying side by side – was still being used.  Mount Sinai physicians Lester Unger, MD and Richard Lewisohn, MD made contributions to both methods just a few years before this.  But it was Lewisohn’s citrate method allowing for indirect transfusions that won the day and paved the way for the development of modern blood banking.

The Real President’s Day

The clipping showing Mount Sinai Hospital nursing student Frances Klepadlo from the New York Daily Mirror, February 1954.

Back in the day, the United States used to mark the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln  (February 12th) and President George Washington (February 22nd) as two separate events. In fact, it was only Washington’s birth that was celebrated as a federal holiday, starting in 1879, and it was on his actual birth date of the 22nd.  In 1971, it was made a floating holiday, marked on the third Monday of February.  Now the day is most commonly known as Presidents’ Day and is taken to be a combination of George and Abe’s birthday. The newspaper clipping on the left shows a student in the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing 60 years ago reading a book about George Washington to a group of pediatric patients.  The student’s name is Frances Klepadlo, and she was in the Class of 1954.  (The nurse on the far left is also a Mount Sinai graduate, as is evidenced by her distinctive cap.) Ms. Klepadlo recently sent an old operating room nurse’s uniform from her student days to the Mount Sinai Archives to be preserved, along with this clipping.  The timing worked out perfectly for us to share it with you in honor of George Washington’s official birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Mount Sinai Historical Publications Available Online

The Icahn School of Medicine Internet Archive collection page

The Mount Sinai Archives of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is very happy to announce that 65 volumes of Mount Sinai related publications are now available on the Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/mountsinaiarchives). These volumes represent 111 separate publications across eight discrete titles and total over 18,000 pages. They were scanned through the support of the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO.) The bulk of the collection consists of the Annual Reports of The Mount Sinai Hospital and its predecessor organization (until 1866), the Jews’ Hospital in the City of New York. These Reports date from 1856-1956 with some gaps in the early years. The collection also includes the complete five volume set of The Mount Sinai Hospital Reports, 1898-1906, the Report of The Mount Sinai Training School for Nurses from 1881-1911, and the Rules and Regulations for the Government of The Mount Sinai Hospital of the City of New York from 1899-1919. Two previously published histories of The Mount Sinai Hospital are also being made available: The Story of the First Fifty Years of The Mount Sinai Hospital (Mount Sinai Hospital, 1944) and The First Hundred Years of The Mount Sinai Hospital of New York, 1852-1952 by Joseph Hirsh and Beka Doherty (Random House, 1952).

Taken together, these volumes are a wonderful resource for information on the development of hospitals and healthcare during the 19th and early 20th centuries. As such, they have been added to the Medical Heritage Library, a collaborative project that promotes open access to medical history resources. The Annual Reports also provide insight into the Jewish community of New York City during this time, including names and addresses of the Hospital’s supporters.

Our thanks to METRO for their support of this project. Please let us know if you have any questions or need additional information about these or other Mount Sinai records.

Estelle Blumberg, RN: A glance at nursing in the past

Estelle Berman Blumberg in the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing Class of 1947 Yearbook

In reviewing a 20 year old issue of a publication called the Mount Sinai Nurse, Archives staff recently came across an article about Estelle Blumberg, RN, a graduate of The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing, Class of 1947.  She came to Mount Sinai as a student in 1944, and the article outlines her experiences as a trainee and then a young graduate nurse on the wards.  Here are some excerpts from that article:

The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing was housed in 5 E. 98th Street….Each morning, students gathered in the assembly hall to sing songs before going on duty. Clad in black shoes and stockings, and wearing plaid uniforms, student nurses were always easy to spot in the hospital.

Ms. Blumberg’s first job upon graduation was assistant charge nurse of a male ward with 41 beds.  Read more

From the Archives: I.C. Rubin’s Nobel Prize Nomination

This week, the Swedish Academy announced the 2013 winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
You may be familiar with the story of Dr. Rosalyn Yalow,
Mount Sinai’s first Nobel laureate, but she is not the only Mount Sinai doctor
to have been nominated for this most distinguished of awards.

In 1935, Dr. Ira Kaplan, a prominent radiologist at New
York’s Bellevue Hospital, was approached by the Nobel Committee to nominate a
candidate for the Prize. He chose Mount Sinai’s I.C. Rubin, a pioneering
gynecologist whose development of the Rubin insufflation test was a major
breakthrough in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility.

Read more

The Levy Library Welcomes Back Dr. Abraham Jacobi

Jacobi bust_front

After several years of being out of the public eye, the Levy Library has recently found a new home for a bust of Abraham Jacobi, MD (1830-1919), the ‘Father of American Pediatrics.’  The bust was created by Jo Davidson (1883-1952) in 1910 and was presented to The Mount Sinai Hospital by the Medical Staff at an event marking Dr. Jacobi’s 80th birthday and his 50th year on the Medical Staff of the Hospital. The creation of the Abraham Jacobi Library at Mount Sinai was also announced during this celebration.  The Jacobi Library was later merged into the Levy Library, which was established in 1973 to serve the new School of Medicine.  This bust has remained in the Mount Sinai library since that time, but often out of view. A few days ago, the sculpture was placed on the west side of the Library and now Dr. Jacobi is once again a presence at Mount Sinai.

The Mount Sinai School of Cardiologists

February is American Heart Health Month and is the perfect
opportunity to look at Mount Sinai's pioneering history in cardiology.  This post looks at only the first 25 years of
this remarkable work, which dates back to 1909 with the installation of Mount
Sinai's first electrocardiograph (EKG) machine by Alfred E. Cohn.  He left a few years later,  taking his machine with him, but in 1914 Bernard S. Oppenheimer
(left) acquired another one and the
Oppenheimer BS from HS 1905Electrocardiographic Laboratory officially opened
in 1915. Oppenheimer had graduated from the Mount Sinai House Staff in 1904.  In 1910, while in London working with Lewis
Thomas, Oppenheimer and his sister, Adele, co-authored a study with Thomas describing
the site of the origin of the mammalian heartbeat.  Later, Oppenheimer was one of the first to use
the EKG to study abnormalities of the wave form and in 1917 won an AMA Gold
Medal for his exhibit on EKG changes associated with myocardial
infarction. 

 

Another
important name in early American cardiology was Mount Sinai’s Emanuel
Libman.  He was a leading authority on
subacute bacterial endocarditis and, in fact, he gave it its name. In 1924
Libman and Benjamin Sacks published a paper describing atypical verrucous
endocarditis, now known as Libman-Sacks endocarditis.  It was noted that “so numerous, original, comprehensive
and important have been the studies of the heart emanating from the wards and
laboratories of the Mount Sinai Hospital, that one may correctly speak of the
Mount Sinai School of Cardiologists.”

 

Marcus A. Rothschild succeeded Oppenheimer as Chief of the
Cardiology Laboratory in 1928. 
(Cardiology was not a formal Division within Medicine until 1956.)  Research was done on the cardiac effects of anoxemia, clinical
studies of rheumatic fever and electrographic studies of bundle branch
block.  In 1929, Arthur Master and Enid
Oppenheimer, B.S. Oppenheimer’s wife, published an article on the Master 2-Step
test, the first accurate and practical cardiac stress test devised.  Master made seminal contributions to the
field throughout his long career, and in 1933 – 80 years ago – became Chief of
the Cardiology Lab.  The next year,
William Hitzig devised the first clinically applicable method for measuring the
circulation time to the right heart. 
This technique was described in 1934 and was used for many years to
evaluate heart failure.

 

For
more information on these contributions and the history of cardiology at Mount
Sinai, see Arthur H. Aufses, Jr. and Barbara Niss, This House of Noble Deeds. (New York: NYU Press, 2002)