Author Biographical Info

Founded on September 1, 1907 as the Baptist Sanitarium, Memorial Hospital began as a two-story, wood-framed building at the end of the trolley line on Lamar and Smith. It had 17 beds and eight trained nurses on staff. It was the second general hospital established in Houston after St. Joseph Hospital which opened in 1887. It was also the second Baptist-supported hospital in the United States.


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This type of iron lung is called a Drinker respirator after one of its developers. Iron lungs work by alternating negative and positive pressure within their sealed body chambers—the negative pressure creates a vacuum around the patient that expands the chest cavity, compelling inhalation, and then a cycle of positive pressure compels exhalation. Negative-pressure ventilators of this type only came into use in the late 1920’s, so the acquisition of this in 1931 was quite a coup. At the time, it was one of only 36 in all of the United States and Canada. Hospital administrators publicized the new baby respirator to spur fundraising for an adult-sized one. See more at Memorial Hospital Photograph Collection and its finding aid.


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