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100 Years

1939 to 1944: Wartime Shortages, Volunteers to the Rescue

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A Double-Edged Sword

A Double-edged SwordPatients show their patriotism during World War II  

On September 1, 1939, German troops pour into Poland. That very same day, 30-year trustee Rose Gottstein, the Hospital Association's first Jewish member, passes away.

After the United States declares war on Japan in December 1941, the city of Seattle holds its first nighttime air-raid drill and requires the hospital to douse all lights or cover the windows. Physicians perform two appendectomies during that inaugural drill.

Although displays of patriotism are at an all-time high, the trustees decline a gift of a large American flag to display in front of the hospital out of fear that Japanese bombers might mistake the building for a government facility.

Some of the Northwest's young men and women volunteering for military service are former Children's Orthopedic patients. When one such young man is killed in action in the South Pacific, his grandmother donates the proceeds of his $10,000 GI life insurance policy to the hospital.

Wartime Shortages

As younger men and women join the services, those physicians and nurses not drafted must care for a growing caseload due to the wartime population boom in Seattle.

Older physicians such as Drs. John LeCocq, Jay Durand and Vernon Spickard continue to volunteer their services at the hospital. Almost every night, they perform surgeries with the help of a nurse anesthetist loaned by the U.S. Army. When she is shipped overseas, the surgery schedule is cut in half.

Wartime ShortagesA page from the hospital’s 1944 annual report  

With consumer goods going to the war effort, steel braces from healed patients must be reused for other patients. Trustees send the hospital sugar ration books to Wenatchee and Yakima so guild members can continue to can fruits and jams for the hospital. Volunteer physicians see their private-practice patients at hospital clinics to save on gas.

On the bright side, growing defense payrolls allow more families to pay for their children's care. (The 1943 advent of Blue Cross insurance in King County also gives some families help to pay for hospital expenses.)

Interns and Residents

Interns and ResidentsInterns and residents were critical during World War II (photo circa 1950s)  

With most of the medical staff shipped off to war and a growing list of children waiting for hospital admission, the volunteer physicians lobby the board and receive approval to allow interns and residents to perform surgeries and staff clinics. The residents remain under the supervision of the volunteer physicians.

Volunteers to the Rescue

In the past, few volunteers have been permitted into Children's Orthopedic Hospital for fear of contagion. Labor shortages associated with the war change all of that. On any given day in the early 1940s, as many as 100 volunteers are found in service at the Orthopedic doing everything from stockroom work and haircuts to patient transport.

Volunteers to the RescueSince the 1940s, volunteers have played an important part in the hospital’s day-to-day activities  

In 1944, the Seattle Real Estate Board (now Seattle-King County Association of Realtors) names Children's Orthopedic "Seattle's First Citizen," in recognition of the thousands of volunteers who gave their time to the hospital. To date, this is the only time the award has been given to an entire institution.

Surprising Bequests

Surprising BequestsBequests have paid for services that ensure all children receive the very best care  

In the early 1900s, bachelor Alvah Henry Bedell Jordan and his partners buy the Everett Pulp and Paper Mill in Lowell, Washington. Although he lives alone, except for a housekeeper and cook, he is a giant in the business, civic and political affairs of the north Puget Sound area.

In 1942, Jordan dies and the board is surprised to find that he leaves most of his estate to Children's Orthopedic Hospital in the form of a 20-year residuary trust — the largest bequest received since the hospital's inception. By 1951, the estate is worth $4 million, and through the 1970s it pays the hospital more than $150,000 a year.

Lifelong bachelor Charlie Olson wills the farm he homesteads outside Auburn, Washington, to Children's Orthopedic Hospital. After Olson passes away in 1942, the hospital sells the 80-acre pastureland to Clyde and Mamie Berryman.

Fifty-two years later, in 1995, son Harry Berryman inherits the property. He and his wife Judy, a 28-year member of the Milnora De B. Roberts Guild, decide to donate the property back to Children's through a charitable remainder trust.

"Everything is a plus when you'e involved in a guild. The rewards come from seeing the money raised directly benefit the hospital," says Judy.

Medical Spinoffs from the Battlefield

Medical Spinoffs from the HospitalSurgery at Children’s Orthopedic Hospital  

New surgical techniques developed for wounded soldiers are translated to pediatrics to heal burns, repair twisted limbs and correct other deformities.

Children with infections who once suffered and died now thrive with the widespread use of antibiotics, sulfa drugs and penicillin — drugs that were first given to soldiers in the field.

These medical advances make death in childhood a relatively infrequent event and help children's hospitals become institutions of greater hope.

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