Santa Clara County History

History of Santa Clara County


The Sanitariums and Hospitals of San Jose--The Splendid Appointments of the O'Connor Buildings--Columbia Hospital and the Santa Clara County Medical Society--Dr. Ben Cory.

The O'Connor Sanitarium, on San Carlos Street, was erected in the year 1887 by Judge and Mrs. M. P. O'Connor, with the intention of providing an institution for the care of the aged, the sick and the afflicted. The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, at the invitation of the donors and suggestion of Archbishop Riordan, took possession of it on March 19, 1889. During the thirty years of its existence it has treated over 7000 patients.

It is advantageously situated in the beautiful and healthful Santa Clara Valley at San Jose. and within easy access of San Francisco. Fourteen acres of beautiful grounds surround the sanitarium and forever prevent the possibility of any adjacent structure crowding close enough to interfere with the present ideal conditions. The spacious grounds are tastefully laid out in lawns and orchard, orange plot and pinery. Traversing these are numerous concrete walks and driveways, which afford ideal opportunity for exercise and recreation.

The general plan of the building arrangement makes the most of the desirable location. The substantial brick buildings, grouped in architectural harmony, comprise a main building, two wings, chapel, kitchen, laundry, power house and stables. Isolated from these, stands the Isolation Building for contagious diseases. Numerous sheltered porches, a solarium, and a garden pavilion enable the convalescent to enjoy the benefits of the outdoor air. All the buildings are well lighted and ventilated.

The different departments are completely equipped, each to meet its own special needs. They comprise the surgical, medical, obstetrical, X-ray and electro-therapeutic departments, a clinical laboratory and pharmacy, and the isolation building for the care of contagious diseases.

The sanitarium is especially equipped for the care of surgical cases. The operating rooms are as complete and up-to-date in arrangement and equipment as it is possible to make them. The rooms are all sunny and well lighted. Owing to the favorable location of the Institution, the ideal climate, and extensive grounds, its facilities for the best treatment are ideal. Two large wards for male and female patients are maintaned and a smaller ward for chronic cases. In addition to these there is also a children's ward. Special attention has been paid to the needs of these little sufferers.

Extensive improvements have been made in the obstetrical division of the hospital. In addition to the private rooms, a newly remodeled and equipped ward has been arranged. Adjoining this is the delivery room with interior finish, furnishings, and equipment planned to provide every convenience for the physician and safeguard for the patient. The nursery, with its row of basket-beds, open grate fireplace and sanitary tubs, is ideally arranged.

The department of electro-therapeutics and radiography has been fully developed and equipped with costly paraphernalia and will prove of the utmost value in facilitating the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and injuries. The equipment is of the very highest standard and latest design. The X-ray department has been enlarged and transferred to a suite of rooms in the surgical annex, where its convenience will be greatly increased.

Special apparatus consisting of a Kelly-Koett eye localizer for foreign bodies, a bullet, or foreign body localizes, a Roentgen stereoscope, and numerous minor accessories, all tend to enhance the value of this department. The electro-therapeutic room has a complete equipment for the use of electricty as a medicinal agent. An elaborate Wappler cabinet furnishes all varieties of the electric current. A pneumo massage apparatus is included. Special diagnostic instruments, electrically illuminated, of the latest approved models, facilitate the diagnoss of the diseases of all accessible organs and tissues. A large Victor eye magnet for the extraction of foreign bodies has also been installed.

The chemical and pathological laboratory has proved to be of great value to the hospital and the attending physicians. A complete equipment of all the apparatus, chemicals, and biological supplies necessary for modern analytical, bacteriological and pathological work is at the service of the attending physicians who desire to avail themselves of its advantages for the benefit of their patients or for original research work.

An isolation building was erected and opened for service during the year 1910. All highly contagious and infectious diseases--measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, erysipelas, etc.--cannot be admitted or treated in the wards and rooms of the general hospital, and through lack of such a building many persons have been deprived of the facilities offered for the scientific conduct and efficient quarantine of such diseases. The isolation building was erected through the beneficence of Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Blaney, and is conducted by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Surrounded by its own grounds it is entirely separated from the main hospital buildings. The interior arrangement is such that no mutual exposure of the patients suffering from different contagious or infectious diseases is liable.

The sanitarium is not endowed, the only income being from pay patients. Its ministrations are not reserved for any one class of patients. It belongs to suffering humanity, irrespective of creed. The physicians of San Jose of all approved schools of medicine, patronize the sanitarium, thus assisting very materially toward its support. It accommodates from seventy-five to ninety patients daily.

In connection with the sanitarium there is a training school for nurses. This school is incorporated and is conducted according to the best methods of the day. The usual curriculum of the general hospital training school has been adopted. Lectures are delivered semi-weekly by the training school staff and there are semi-weekly classes conducted by the superintendent.

Columbia Hospital and Branch

There are two large private hospitals in San Jose, both conducted by the incorporated Columbia Hospital Company, of which Ellen Kaiser is president, Dr. F. H. Paterson, vice-president, and Mrs. F. H. Paterson, secretary. One hospital is located at the corner of Market and San Carlos Streets, the other in East San Jose. Both establishments represent an outlay of $150,000. The Market Street hospital is a large, modern building on a fifty-vara lot. The East San Jose hospital was purchased in 1920 from Dr. L. J. Belknap, who had conducted it for twenty-three years. The buildings are of wood and the tract contains eight acres. Both hospitals are provided with laboratories and all the up-to-date appliances. Fifteen nurses are employed and an average of eighty-five patients are treated daily. The Columbia and East Columbia hospitals were combined in 1921, the Columbia located in San Jose going out of existence. In April, 1921, the combined hospital went out of the hands of Dr. Paterson and hereafter will be conducted by a group of individuals. The trustees will control the business interests of the hospital, formulating plans for extensions and enlarging the facilities of the institution so that the staff will have every possible facility for professional conduct of their work. A clinic has been opened to be conducted along the lines pursued by the larger cities.

The San Jose Hospital, the property of a corporation of local business men, is now in course of construction on Santa Clara Street, beteween [sic] Fourteenth and Fifteenth Streets. It will be a strictly modern, fire-proof structure throughout and will be equipped to provide the greatest possible comfort for patients, nurses and physicians and surgeons. The project is sponsored by sixty-six leading physicians of the county and the management will be in the hands of a board of directors of which S. G. Tompkins is president and J. L. Haskins, secretary. The total cost of the building will be $185,000. All the money for the site and building has already been secured.

County Medical Society

The Santa Clara County Medical Society was organized in 1870, reorganized in 1906, and is still in existence. Its objects are to create fraternal feelings among members, to advocate a high standard of ethics, to frown upon illegal practices, to safeguard the public health, to receive and discuss reports of interesting cases and to keep abreast of the times in all matters pertaining to the practice of medicine and surgery. The officers are: T. L. Blanchard, president; E. F. Holbrook, first vice-president; G. P. Hall, second vice-president; R. L. Hogg, third vice-presdent; H. J. B. Wright, treasurer; J. L. Pritchard, secretary; councillors at large, A. E. Osborne, P. A. Jordan, J. J. Miller; admission, M. D. Baker, J. J. Miller, L. V. Saph; ethics, A. E. Osborne, J. W. Thayer, R. G. Reynolds, E. A. Flipello, H. C. Brown, executive, Chas. M. Richards, J. C. Blair, Frank Paterson, L. S. Moore, F. S. Ryan; publication and library, C. E. Saunders, A. E. Dickenson, L. M. Rose; finance, P. A. Jordane, N. H. Bullock, J. I. Beattie; public health, D. A. Beattie, Jonas Clark, S. B. Van Dalsem, C. C. Ledyard, Bert Loehr.

It was through the instrumentality of this society that the city board of health came into existence. The society, however, has never left the full burden of the work to the health office, but by means of special committees has aided the board in exposing unsanitary conditions which have menaced the public health and demanded attentions and abatement.

Dr. Ben Cory was the pioneer physician of the city. He came to San Jose in 1847. He saw a few adobes scattered about the Plaza and believing that time would witness a material growth in population and business at once established himself in his profession. He witnessed a transformation of the valley and state, and his most extravagant dreams of its future growth in wealth, in adornment, and all that accompanies an advanced civilization were more than realized. Dr. Cory was a native of Ohio, and was born in 1822. He was a graduate of Miami University and commenced the study of medicine with his father, who was a prominent physician. Later he attended the Medical College of Ohio and received his degree in 1845. For two years he practised medicine with his father, and then started across the plains to the Pacific Coast. He arrived at Portland, Oregon, and from there came to San Jose. He performed much public service. He was a member of the first Legislature of the state, and was also a councilman and member of the board of education. He died in 1895.

Dr. Cory was very popular, both as a citizen and as a physician and surgeon. He was kindhearted, and generous to a fault. While his profession was lucrative, he was many times low in pocket on account of his inability to say no to the demands upon his purse. He lost many thousands of dollars endorsing notes for friends and it was while he was almost financially embarrassed on account of these losses that an old friend living in Sacramento wrote to him that he was in dire need of $700. If Dr. Cory would endorse a note to that amount for him he would be eternally obliged. Dr. Cory hated to refuse the request, but he felt that he must, so he answered his letter giving his reasons for the refusal. The Sacramentan wrote another letter, a plea so forcible that the good doctor could not muster up courage to say that he, too, was hard pressed and could not oblige his friend. Instead, he endorsed the note and the Sacramentan was profuse in his expressions of thankfulness. He appreciated the favor and would see to it that the note was paid before maturity. Time passed and Dr. Cory had forgotten about the affair when one day he received a note from the bank which had paid over the money, stating that the note was due, that the Sacramentan had failed to pay even the interest, and that it was now up to the doctor to step in and pay the $700 and interest. Dr. Cory was a very mild-mannered man, but it is possible that he used rather strong language when he realized that he had again been taken in. In his wrath over the duplicity of his former friend he sat down and wrote the Sacramentan a letter, winding up with the expressive phrase, "You are no gentleman."

A week passed and then a well dressed man walked into Dr. Cory's office and stated that he represented the Sacramentan and was the bearer of a challenge to fight a duel. Dr. Cory laughed and said he would accept the challenge. He was then informed that as the challenged party he had the right to name the weapons that should be used. "Shot guns at ten paces," was the reply. The Sacramentan's representative demurred at the choice, but Dr. Cory was not to be moved from the position he had taken. "Shot guns at ten paces--take it or leave it," he said, and the representative went out with a frown on his face. That night the Sacramentan left San Jose and no mention of duel or money was ever afterwards made by him.

Dr. Cory had a large professional practice, both in the city and the country. One night, in the late '50s, an urgent case called him to Alviso. While at the house of his patient he was presented with a large sweet potato as a sample of what was grown on the marsh lands near the bay. On the road home he kept the potato in his hand and when about half way to San Jose was stopped by a highwayman with the customary demand to throw out his money and other valuables. The doctor reined up and then, unconsciously, lifted the potato and began to twiddle it in his hand. The highwayman saw the tuber and did not identify it. To him it looked like a pistol in the hand of a man who meant business. With a yell, "don't shoot," he left the road, jumped over the ditch, and was soon out of sight. For the moment Dr. Cory was amazed at the robber's action, but a glance at the potato furnished the explanation needed.

Source: Sawyers, Eugene T. History of Santa Clara County, Los Angeles, Calif; Historic Record Company, 1922.

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