Maybe the wet spring (at least in the Upper Valley) kept everyone indoors—but for whatever reason, readers responded in droves to our Spring issue. We were deluged with letters on the cover feature, about ICUs; on a feature titled "House Calls with John"; and on two essays—one by a Dartmouth undergraduate and one by a DMS faculty member.
Cold comfort for ICU patients
I thoroughly enjoyed the article in your Spring issue on the origins of intensive-care units.
I was a neurosurgery resident at Hitchcock in the 1950s and have many memories of Dr. Mosenthal's revolutionary concept of placing all acutely ill hospital patients in one location. Hypothermia was thought back then to be beneficial in treating brain problems, such as from trauma or a ruptured aneurysm. So during the winters of 1956 to 1958, we placed such patients in a separate room on the ICU and left the window open; the nurses became very adept at keeping patients' body temperatures close to 90 degrees by raising, lowering, or closing the window. I doubt this accomplished much, but it made for chilly rounds.
I also enjoyed John Sibley's sketches, which I had not seen before. John and I were residents at the same time, and he was also at Dartmouth in 1982, the year I returned as a visiting professor of neurosurgery. We both found no comparison to the ICU we had known 25 years earlier.
David M. Barry, M.D.
I wonder if you have any information about the individuals pictured in the painting on the cover and here in the Spring Dartmouth Medicine. The article mentioned Dr. Mosenthal but not the other people in the picture.
I currently take care of the gentleman to the left of the bed. His name is Wendell Cherrier and he is from Windsor, Vt. He is a retired nurse who worked at Dick's House [the Dartmouth College infirmary] for 35 years, and before that for 10 years at Mary Hitchcock Hospital.
John D. MacDonald
We have, in fact, learned the names of everyone except the patient in the photo
from which the cover painting (reproduced above) was made—thanks to a newspaper clipping featuring the photo. They are, from the left, Mary Thomas, an aide; Wendell Cherrier, then an orderly; Dr. William Mosenthal, then a surgeon; Janet Wenzell, R.N.; and Dr. George Cole, an intern. We still don't know the exact date the photo was taken, however. It was sometime between 1955, when the unit was created, and 1957, when the photo was used in an exhibit.
Medicine cum heart (and harmonica)
The article by John Radebaugh, "House Calls with John" [Spring 2005], is awesome, courageous, inspiring, visionary, and told with wonderful humor and wit! My medical education and training coincided with several points in his career; the article brought back memories of Rochester, Brawley, the Imperial Valley in the summer of 1970, and a month I spent with him in Fresno in 1975. I loved the story about the woman with the pseudopregnancy. But I never knew he'd started his career in Maine, and I'd forgotten about the harmonica he always carried.
Throughout the piece, he put into words exactly the ideals that inspired me and others to enter the profession of medicine—the compassion, the curiosity, the advocacy for patients, the outreach and partnering with them on their "home" turf, and, ultimately, the quest for peace
and social justice that is at the heart of the medical profession. Or at least should be.
Richard A. Aronson,
Aronson is medical director of the Maine Bureau of Health's Division of Maternal and Child Health.
At patients' beck and call
What a delight to read the entire Spring issue of Dartmouth Medicine—especially "House Calls with John." Just as there are books celebrating The Joy of Cooking and The Joy of Gardening, Dr. Radebaugh should be encouraged to write The Joy of House Calls.
I was fledged in 1949 as an M.D. from Harvard Medical School—poor training for someone who wanted to be a family physician and make house calls. My mentor wanted me to do a fellowship and be a gastroenterologist, but I resisted and never regretted being the only LMD (local M.D.—a disparaging term in the '40s) allowed to practice for 37 happy years at the lofty Massachusetts General Hospital. I even sewed up lacerations on occasion (unheard of for internists) and rode in ambulances to the emergency ward.
One house call in particular delighted me. A friend of my inlaws had what sounded on the phone like nothing more than a heavy cold. Please would I drop by on my way home to see "Uncle Bobby"? I was greeted at the door of quite a fine home by Bobby's wife, who asked if I could first help her. She held a rattrap in her hand and asked me if I would bait it for her—which I dutifully did, seeing myself as "the compleat physician."
Uncle Bobby was just fine, though I may have prescribed some medication to persuade him he really was sick.
The next day a second call came. Uncle Bobby was no better; would I stop by again? True to my calling, I did. His wife again said she had an unusual request: