Neighbors chip in to keep hospital on its feet
More than a century ago, employees and friends of the American Oncologic Hospital—later to become the clinical arm of Fox Chase—marshaled the same “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” ethic that would drive Stanley Reimann to carry the Institute for Cancer Research through its challenging early years.
Chartered in 1904, the hospital was among the first in the country devoted solely to cancer.
“Let us remember that of the 106 cases treated, nearly all, according to medical science, would have died in the space of three years, save for such treatment as they have received within our walls,” wrote hospital president George Stuart Jr. in 1905 the institution’s first annual report.
But patient volumes were outgrowing the aging Victorian house in West Philadelphia where the hospital operated, and it was spending three times what it made. Stuart and his staff reached out to the community for help, and area residents—many of whom had been treated at the hospital or who had friends or relatives who had been—rallied to the hospital’s aid. Early annual reports, which meticulously cataloged each gift, reveal their willingness to give what they could. A sampling:
- MISS HOOD, 1 bottle chili sauce, parsnips and onions,
1 jar tomatoes, 1 bottle ketchup, 1 jar pickles.
- MR. WOOD, 3 pairs of scissors.
- REV. HERMAN L. DUHRING, $5 for Xmas cheer and $5 for New Year’s cheer.
- MR. JAMES STEPHANY, 1 bunch of bananas.
- BADGER, WILLIAM, 1 gal. crab meat.
- FULWEILER, MRS., 1 bath robe.
- JOHNSTON, MRS. H. L., rubber sheeting, 2 bed-pans, urinal,
feeding cup, 2 syringes, feeding tube, rubber sheet.
- PASSMORE, MISS HARRIET, 15 1/2 bottles grape-juice.
- YOUNG, MR. J. P., 2 bottles whiskey.
- DENNY, JOS. J., ends of ham.
“Neighborly sympathy has lent its ministries of good-will in substantial tokens of clothing and delicacies,” noted Stuart in the 1905 report. Thanks in part to the community’s support, he and his staff could focus on their primary goal: treating cancer patients.