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.  The only bacteriostatic drug was powdered sulfa. IV [glass flasks] were open at the top and covered only with a fluted paper cap. To prepare a blood transfusion, a 4″ x 4″ gauze pad was put on the IV [flask] to filter the blood going through it…..  In 1944, medicine was changed forever with the availability of penicillin for civilian use….A 24 year old young man on her ward was suffering from sub-acute bacterial endocarditis, a fatal disease. Ms. Blumberg was given a glass vial with yellow powder that came from an army post….She was instructed to mix it with saline solution and pour it in an IV.  “None of the patients with this disease ever survived. You can imagine our astonishment when this young man began to recover. He was our first patient to live.  We threw a party, and all the physicians and nurses came to celebrate. We had seen a miracle.”


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