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Panama Canal review
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00097366/00185
 Material Information
Title: Panama Canal review
Physical Description: v. : col. ill. ; 28-34 cm.
Language: English
Creator: United States -- Panama Canal Commission
Panama Canal Company
Publisher: Panama Canal Commission
Place of Publication: Balboa Heights Republic of Panama
Balboa Heights Republic of Panama
Creation Date: June 1957
Publication Date: 1957
Frequency: semiannual
Subjects / Keywords: PANAMA CANAL ZONE   ( unbist )
Periodicals -- Panama Canal (Panama)   ( lcsh )
Periodicals -- Canal Zone   ( lcsh )
Genre: federal government publication   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
serial   ( sobekcm )
Spatial Coverage: Panama
Additional Physical Form: Also issued online.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with v. 1 (May 1950).
Issuing Body: Vols. for 19 -19 issued by Panama Canal Co.; <Oct. 1, 1980-> by Panama Canal Commission.
General Note: Title from cover.
General Note: "Official Panama Canal publication"--19 -19 .
General Note: Description based on: Oct. 1, 1980.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01774059
lccn - 67057396
issn - 0031-0646
sobekcm - UF00097366_00184
System ID: UF00097366:00185
 Related Items
Related Items: Panama Canal review en espagñol

Full Text





*FHive YefIHiedIIzIe

eA -e.1 Al Ad F A

Tropical trees and flowers filled the grounds of L'Hopital Central. To protect their plants, the Sisters of Charity
surrounded them with water-filled pottery rings. This building stood at about the present site of Section D.

French Days

L'Hopital Central du Panama

1882- 1904

O N a September Sunday, 75 years ago, Bishop
Telesforo Pauil of Panama celebrated a Pontifical Mass,
giving thanks to God that the great new hospital of the
French Canal Company at Ancon had become a reality.
In the congregation that day, September 17, 1882,
was Louis Verbrugghe, Superior Agent ad interim for
the French enterprise, who, doubtless, said his personal
prayer of thanksgiving that the hospital had at last
been finished and that it had successfully withstood the
previous week's earthquake, one of the worst in the
history of the narrow Isthmus of Panama.
The walls of his office building on Panama City's
main plaza had been cracked by the terrific tremor on
September 7 and he had had to make a fruitless trip
to Chagres to scotch rumors that the widespread de-
struction was due to a volcanic eruption, but the new
hospital's buildings had stood firm on their stone foun-
dations. And this knowledge undoubtedly helped both
him and the Bishop, who was to direct the hospital,
to better enjoy the banquet of celebration which fol-
lowed the dedicatory Mass.
The dedication of the hospital at Ancon ended 18
months of planning and preparation by the French-
a period in which the Company was subjected fre-
quently to outspoken criticism, both because of the
slowness of the hospital's construction and the fact that
it was being built at all.
"Wonderful hospitals to hold hundreds of patients,

with separate wards for all diseases to which flesh is
heir, are great things no doubt," one frank critic said
a few months before the hospital was opened. "They
will be still greater when completed, but in the mean-
time sick men must be brought to the doctors and
medicines instead of carrying both to them. It might
be more profitable to have a good staff of medical men
in the field than to build hospitals."
The first group of French officials to reach the Isth-
mus, in January 1881, included Edward Carcenac, a
member of the Royal College of Surgeons of London.
His title with the French Canal Company was that of
Agent, and his job was with the "real estate and sani-
tary services."
A Dr. Company, a physician who had been with
DeLesseps during the construction of the Suez Canal,
reached Panama a little later. At first, according to a
contemporary newspaper account, Frederick Pidoux, a
member of the Medical College of Paris, headed what
v. as known as the Sanitary Service.
After they had looked over the So-mile ,wide Isth-
mus of Panama, across which their Company hoped to
build an interoceanic canal, the French officials decided
that two major hospitals would be necessary, one close
to either terminal.
For the hospital at Colon they selected a tract of
land adjacent to the small hospital which had been


built some years before by the Panama Railroad Com-
pany, roughly at about the present site of the Colon
Hospital buildings. On the Pacific side they purchased
a plot of about 80 acres, known as the Huerta de Galla
area. Gorgas Hospital now stands on this site.
Construction of the two main hospitals was beset by
labor difficulties, such as a widespread strike in Jan-
uary 1882, and the delay in arrival of important equip-
ment. Meanwhile, until their own L'Hopital Central
was finished, the French Company sent at least part of
their sick to the Strangers' Hospital, a small institution
financed by a group known as the Comision de Bene-
ficencia and operated by a Catholic Sisterhood. Dur-
ing the early part of 1882, 77 officers of the French
Canal Company whose expenses were paid by the Com-
pany died in this hospital, together with a considerable
number whose expenses were not so paid.
The original Strangers' Hospital cared for those "of
all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues." It
had been an Isthmian institution, and had occupied a
number of sites, for some years before the French canal
work began. In 1882, however, it was located at the
upper end of the Huerta de Galla reservation, about
where three large two-story official Panama Canal
Company quarters now stand on Gorgas Road.
As soon as L'Hopital Central du Panama was ded-
icated it began to receive patients, both from the
Strangers' Hospital and from the dispensaries the
French had established in their construction towns.

F OR those days, 75 years ago, the hospital was an im-
pressive one. The best contemporary description of it
appears in the following story from the STAR & HERALD
of September 13, 1882:
"Many have doubtless remarked at the foot of Ancon
Hill a cluster of well-constructed, bright-looking build-
ings. Seen from the town they have an appearance of
cleanliness and novelty and being situated in a most
prominent position attract the eye of everyone arriving
in Panama. These buildings belong to the Canal Com-
pany and together form the Hospital Service and
Ambulance Department."
Just within the entrance gates, which were a short
stone's throw from the present corner of Tivoli Avenue
and "J" Street and roughly opposite the present resi-
derice of the Episcopal Bishop, was a Porter's Lodge.
Uphill, the newspaper account continues, enumerat-
ing the various structures as it goes along, were:
"2. Martin House. This serves as a canteen and is
situated on the southern side of the road as you enter
the gate.
"3. Central Dispensary. iio by 8o feet.
"4. Waiting Room and Visiting Salon. This 33 by
51-foot building is a convenient construction in which
patients when conveyed to the hospital will wait their
turn before being removed to their respective wards.
"5. Patients' ward, 85 by 35 feet, accommodating
24 sick people. To provide for the comfort of the pa-
tidnts the Company thought proper to construct sev-
eral wards independent of each other and capable of
containing 24 persons. Under this arrangement, the
doctors will be able to classify the patients and isolate
all contagious diseases. The fact of having but 24
in a ward is conducive to good air, cleanliness, and
proper attendance. Several of these buildings, having
the same dimensions, encircle the dispensary and at-
tendants' wards so as to be in the neighborhood of all
requirements. These wards are all properly and thor-
oughly ventilated.
"6. The Servants Hall, where the Sisters of Charity
and their staff perform their duties.
". 7. Then come four more wards of the same dimen-
sions, i.e., 85 by 35 feet, accommodating as above
mentioned 24 in each ward.
"8. Two servants' halls in which the attendants
will be stationed ready to wait on the inmates of the
four wards.
"9. The kitchen, 45 by 40 feet, fitted up with all
the necessary modern improvements.
"10o. Bathroom.
"i Toilette room.
"12. Residence of the Sisters of Charity, 85 by 95
feet. A most commodious and spacious building pos-
Nov. 1, 1957-Diamond Jubilee Supplement 3

sessing all the necessary comforts. This lodge or hall
is different from that of the Servants Hall, the former
being the residence of the Sisters whilst the latter is
where the different services in connection with the
wards are carried out.
"13. The Servants Lodge, 85 by 35 feet, where the
various attendants lodge.
"14. The Chaplain's Lodge, a small villa sufficiently
large and beautiful for the purpose.
"15. Two other wards for the sick on the same model
as those above mentioned.
"i6. Servants Hall on the same principles as those
already described and to which is attached a workroom
similar to those mentioned.
"17. A small kitchen.
"i8. An additional ward.
"A reservoir is being constructed and is nearly fin-
ished which will provide with water the whole range
of buildings. There is also a Strangers' Hospital build-
ing which will be added to the group beside several
other wards nearly finished.
"All of these building are seated upon pillars of stone
so as to allow ventilation to pass under them and at
the same time separate them from the soil. They also
have double partitions so as to avoid the damp and
exclude the heat. The roofs are covered with Marseilles
tile. Verandahs are added to each building.
"There is a culvert where all the water falling from
the mountain and the environs is conducted away to
the valley below.
"There will be planted in spots selected on the prop-
erty entitled Huerta de Galla which the Company has
purchased for the hospital service, several flower and
vegetable gardens and the Eucalyptus Globulus is to be
freely planted all over the ground. This most precious
tree has just commenced to take a fancy to the Isth-
mian soil and we have several specimens raising their
heads at Empire and elsewhere. It can be imagined
that when these gardens are in full bloom the Euca-
lyptus progressing in height, the fine road maca-
damized, and the fountains in full play, that a patient's
life will be soothed by the aspect all around him and
the comfort and care with which he will be cared for.
The total cost of all these buildings will be $400,000.
The direction of the hospitals as to the services, etc.,
is entrusted to Bishop Paul."
Altogether L'Hopital Central was a remarkable ex-
ample of hospital planning for those days. Years later
Col. W. C. Gorgas, Chief Sanitary Officer for the
Isthmian Canal Commission, described it as a "very
much better institution than any hospital in America
that I know of at the same period carried on by a firm
or corporation."

T HE patients in L'Hopital Central were under the
devoted care of a group of Sisters of Charity of St.
Vincent de Paul, whose original Mother Superior was
Soeur Marie RWleau. Old hospital records, unfortun-
ately scanty, dc. n',t show how many came from France
to staff the French Company's hospital at Ancon, but
in 1887 there were 14 on duty at the hospital and the
adjacent Strangers' Hospital. One of these was 90
years old and another 73.
Today this same Order, easily identifiable by their
dark blue robes and big white-winged bonnets, oper-
ates Panama City's Asilo Bolivar and the Santa Fa-
milia Orphanage, St. Vincent's School in Colon, and
the Old People's Home in Puerto Pilon.
They were not trained nurses and there were some
medical duties they could not perform. They were
forbidden by the rules of their Order to take pulses,
for example, although they could and did take temp-
eratures, make beds, change the linen of the sick, and
attend to wounds.
They had vowed to "attend the sick with all the care
and all the affection possible, treating them with com-
passion, sweetness, cordiality, and devotion." On their
schedule of daily rounds was an hour set aside for dis-
tribution of "sweetmeats" to the hospital patients.
The Sisters, especially their Mother Superior, were
lovers of flowers, and as time went on they beautified
the hospital's grounds with flowers and shrubs, some
of which came from French colonies in the South Pacific.
Years later, after the collapse of (See page 6)

As one looked uphill into the French hospital grounds, a porter's lodge and dispensary were on the right within
the gates. The tall building at the left was the Bishop's dwelling. This was later the superintendent's residence.

'1 r. -. Crude as they seem today, the
buildings of the French Canal Com-
pany's hospital at Ancon were mod-
els for their day. Although the hos-
pital has been rebuilt and modern-
.ized, it is still laid out much as the
French planned it 75 years ago.
The pictures on these two pages
were given to the Ancon hospital li-
brary many years ago by Dr. A. B.
..Herrick, the hospital's chief surgeon
for many years. The original photo-
graphs are identified as to the use
-. made of the buildings by the French
.and by the Americans and their lo-
cation with respect to the present
buildings is also shown.
The entrance gates were roughly
opposite today's residence of Bishop
R. H. Gooden. The gates stayed in
place until about 1910 when they
were removed to allow easier access
to fire engines.
Covered passageways linked the lower wards, just as open porches now connect
Sections A and B, today, in the same location. Only the steps are missing.

Colonel Gorgas identified this building, where he later
lived, as the St. Charles Ward. Here over 5,000 pa-
tients died during the period of the French Hospital.

"" MY,

A closer view of the Bishop's house and its
palm-bordered drive. It was replaced in 1919'

The operating room of the old
-French hospital stood on the plot of
ground which is now a grassy park
'in front of the present Administra-
tion Building. It was connected with
'the lower wards by covered passage-
The road through the hospital
grounds was known as the Old La
"Boca Road. It wound between the
buildings and turned left at about
the present entrance to Quarry
From there it passed Dingler's
Folly on the edge of the hill and
continued on downhill to La Boca,
the Pacific side port for the Panama
Canal during the American construc-
tion period.

Primitive as it seems today, the equipment of the operating room at L'Hopitql
Central was modern for its day. Note the absence of robes for the attendants.

The Strangers Hospital was at the upper end of the grounds.

Part of the French hospital was used for an orphanage.

Dingler's Folly, overlooking the Pacific, was built as a home for the director of the French Canal Company.
It was used as a hospital farm later, and during the American construction period was a quarantine station.

L'Hopital Central du Panama
(Continued from page 8) the French Company,
they were to use their flower and vegetable gardens to
supplement their meager income from the hospital.
Leaf-cutting ants were no less voracious 75 years ago
than they are today. To protect their plants, the
Sisters surrounded them with water-filled earthenware
rings, perfect breeding places for fever-carrying mos-
quitoes. And to protect the bedridden from the annoy-
ance of crawling insects, they set the legs of the hos-
pital beds in water-filled jars.
In those days no one knew that mosquitoes carried
yellow fever and malaria and the standard treatment
for suspected cases of yellow fever was an unappetizing
dose of lemon juice, castor oil, and salt.
"Probably," Colonel Gorgas commented, "if the
French had been trying to propagate yellow fever, they
could not have provided conditions better adapted for
the purpose."

T HERE is little wonder that during the nine years
of the first French Company's construction over ,200o
patients, most of them Frenchmen, died of yellow fever
in L'Hopital Central.
The hospital was not popular among the French em-
ployees. The Company paid five francs, roughly $i
in those days, to the Sisters for each patient's care, but
the patient was expected to reimburse his employer for
this sum-if he lived. Even more serious, however,
was the realization that the patients in the hospital
were contracting fever there.
"A man, otherwise well, would break a leg, be sent
to the hospital, in the course of four or five days de-
velop yellow fever, and within ten days be dead,"
Gorgas wrote later.
Although histories of the French construction days
make little mention of the hospital which the Com-
pany opened in Colon in March 1882, there is no reason
to believe that conditions there differed from those at
L'Hopital Central.
This 2oo-bed Colon Hospital was built on a coral
Ku l-. . .-.

reef on brick pillars, some of which are still visible, in
the shallow water along the shore of Limon Bay. Its
buildings stood broadside to the winds and were cooled
by the Caribbean breezes and by the sea which, except
at the lowest tide, lapped under them toward the shore.
But this hospital was no better protected from fever-
carrying mosquitoes than the bigger hospital at Ancon.
To complete their hospital system the French, in
1885, opened a 25-bed sanitarium on Taboga Island.
Designed to house convalescent patients, the building
had originally been a hotel in the days when the Pacific
Steam Navigation Company had a great repair center
on the island and when travellers sometimes took ship
there for California. This hotel might even have been
the one mentioned in a famous old classic "Baron Mon-
tez of Paris and Panama."
L'Hopital Central was the largest of the three French
hospitals; it could accommodate about 500 patients.
The hospital at Colon- had a capacity of 2oo00 beds.
Altogether, the three institutions gave the French space
for about 700 ailing.

W HEN the French Company's attempt to build a
canal across the Isthmus failed, the hospitals fell into
In about 1889 the Colon Hospital became an alms-
house. The convalescent hospital at Taboga was used
but little and while L'Hopital Central remained opened
it had so few patients that the Sisters of Charity started
an orphanage in the hospital buildings.
By 1904, when the hospitals passed into the hands
of the United States Government, Dr. Jean Pierre La-
Croisade was the Chief Surgeon for the French and the
only doctor on duty at L'Hopital Central. The other
occupants of the sprawling institution were about a
hundred chronic patients suffering from everything
from beri-beri to leprosy, the orphans, and the Sisters
of Charity.
The unused wards were dusty and musty. All of the
buildings needed repairs of some sort, and, outside,
the jungle was beginning to close in.

The old La Boca Road wound uphill by the hospital buildings. On the right is one of the lower wards, now Section B.


Many assisted in the preparation of this
for the Diamond Anniversary of Gorgas Hos-
pital and medical services of the Canal
Appreciation of THE REVIEW staff is ex-
pressed to Mr. and Mrs. Ora Ewing, Mr.

Karl P. Curtis, and Mr. Fred DeV. Sill,
retired Canal employees; Mr. A. V. Mc-
Geachy, retired Editor of The Star &P Herald;
personnel of the Health Bureau; Mrs. Vir-
ginia Ewing Stich, Gorgas Hospital Librar-
ian, and other members of the Gorgas staff;
and the staff of the Canal Zone Library.

Yellow fever patients at Ancon Hospital were isolated in cages like this to protect others in the ward.

Construction Days

Ancon Hospital

1904- 1914

VVE were ushered to the quarters that had been
prepared for us-an abandoned ward fitted with mate-
rial left by the French 15 years before-built on a ter-
race almost at the top of the hill. We made ourselves
feel as much at home as possible in this strange and
unattractive abode, but the first night passed in these
strange quarters was sufficient to have broken down
the courage that brought us here."
This was Mary Eugenie Hibbard's description of the
first night which she and two other American nurses
spent, in June 1904, in the almost-deserted buildings
of L'Hopital Central on the jungle-clad slopes of Ancon
Miss Hibbard, who was the first Chief Nurse of the
big hospital when it was taken over by the Americans
and whose portrait now hangs in the present hospital's
admitting office, was no stranger to foreign lands. She
had been in Africa. She had been presented at the
Court of St. James, in London. She had served with
Gorgas, in Cuba, where she had had yellow fever.
Yet the day after she reached the old French hospital
in Ancon she asked for a Colt revolver. It was, she
said, "too heavy for me to handle with one hand. I
placed it on a chair by my bedside at night and looked
lovingly on it as a possible protector. I have never
had to use it."
Despite her initial trepidations, she and her com-
panions went valiantly to work. Laboring with them
were Dr. LaCroisade, a French doctor who was the
only physician on the hospital staff when the Americans
arrived and who was to remain in the American service
for almost two years, and the Sisters of Charity who
had been struggling to keep the hospital going.
The first American doctors and nurses had their
work cut out for them, and there was plenty of it to do.
Three months earlier, when Colonel Gorgas came to
Panama with the Isthmian Canal Commission as a


Nov. 1, 1957-Diamond Jubilee Supplement

medical advisor, he had looked over the French hos-
pitals at Ancon and Colon. He had decided that both
establishments could be reconditioned as a nucleus for
an American hospital system, although he realized that
the hospital buildings were in sad condition.
"The amount of cleaning after 15 years of neglect
can be imagined," Miss Hibbard wrote later of these
early days. Nevertheless, in a little less than two weeks
she and her helpers had the French hospital ready to
receive its first American patients. On July 13, 1905,
Gov. George E. Davis ordered that, "the United States
Hospital, situated on the northeastern slope of Ancon
Hill within the Municipality of Ancon will, unless
otherwise ordered by the Isthmian Canal Commission,
be known by the name of Ancon Hospital," and desig-
nated Maj. Louis A. LaGarde as its first Superintend-
ent. On July 15, 1904, Ancon Hospital-received its
first patients.
In addition to Major LaGarde, Miss Hibbard, and
the two nurses, Mary C. Markham and a Miss A.
McGowan, who had accompanied' her'here, the original
staff included: Dr. Ernest Wheeler, Executive Officer;
Dr. A. B. Herrick, Chief Surgeon in charge of all pro-
fessional work; Capt. Theodore Lyster, Eye, Ear, Nose,
and Throat Specialist; Dr. Arthur Kendall, Chief of
Laboratories; Dr. EdwardiBeverly,'Assistant Physician;
and Dr. Lloyd Noland, Assistant Surgeon.
At first Miss Hibbard and her two assistant nurses,
both of whom had come from Bellevue Hospital in
New York, carried the nursing load alone, with the aid
of the Sisters of Charity. Within less than a month,
however, 16 more nurses arrived. Most of them were
from New York City's Cancer or Metropolitan Hos-
pitals. From these, Miss Hibbard chose Miss Jessie
Murdoch as her Assistant Chief Nurse. Miss Eleanor
Smith was put in charge of the operating room.
Although they were not trained nurses in the profes-
sional sense, the Sisters of Charity had done heroic
work at the French Hospital. The Sisters on the Isth-
mus did not speak English so See page 10)

The one-time Bishop's home became the The entrance gates had changed little
Ancon Hospital Superintendent's house. from the days of the French hospital.

Convalescents recuperated at the Aspinwall sanitarium on Taboga Island.

Ancon Hospital looked like this from the top

Canal Zoi

The Canal Zone's five major hos-
pitals as they looked between 1910o
and 1920 are shown on these two
pages. The four pictures at the top
of the two pages here are Ancon Hos-
pital in that ten-year period.
At the left is the sanitarium at
Taboga where convalescents were
sent to recuperate after bouts of
fever or other major illnesses. Orig-
inally a hotel, it became a hotel again
in 1914 and was operated as such
until not long before World War II.

The hospital for the insane at Corozal was a

The Leprosarium at Palo Seco was built about 1906. The only access was by
launch until a road was built behind Farfan Beach during the mid-1930's.

1920, the rebuilding of the "new Ancon Hospital" was practically done.

I in 1910. The layout was much like today's.


The leprosarium at Palo Seco, left
below, is still in its lovely breeze-
swept location but its buildings have
been replaced with modern structures.
Below is Corozal Hospital, as it
looked during its early days. It has
now been completely rebuilt.
At the right are two photographs
of Colon Hospital, one during the
construction period and the other
the "new" building, now empty and
awaiting transfer to the Republic of

frame buildings connected by passageways.

At first the Colon Hospital buildings stood on piers over the sea. In 1917 they
were replaced by modern concrete buildings like the one shown below.

Construction Days Ancon Hospital
(Continued from page 7) the American Hospital
administrators tried to get others of the same Order
to serve as aides to the American nurses.
But the Superior of the American community of the
Order of St. Vincent de Paul, in Emmitsburg, Md.,
had to refuse the request. "So pressed are we," she
wrote, "for Sisters to carry on the work already in
operation and languishing for further support, we find
it impossible to supply even the six Sisters we hoped
to give for the Isthmus."
What equipment remained in the hospital from the
French days was obsolete and in poor condition and
at first the doctors and nurses had to improvise con-
stantly. Fortunately, Gorgas had brought $i5o,0oo
worth of supplies, including mosquito nets.
The nets turned out to be a major point of conten-
tion between the American-trained nurses and the hos-
pital attendants who had been transferred from the
French operation and who thought little of the new-
fangled notion that mosquitoes carried fever. Every
morning for weeks the American nurses reported to
their wards to find the nets, which they had adjusted
carefully the night before, tied back to the bed posts
with bright ribbon or colored paper bows.
Gorgas realized that yellow fever was the most vital
problem with which he would have to contend. From
his experience in Cuba, he knew that this meant that
all doors and windows would have to be screened until
the yellow-fever carrying mosquitoes were wiped out.

T HE ensuing battle of the screens turned into a
battle of theories: The theory proven in Cuba that
mosquitoes transmitted yellow fever, and the theory
held by a good many, including some of the members
of the Isthmian Canal Commission, that yellow fever
was a filth disease.
In July 1904, all of the Ancon Hospital buildings
were measured for screens which were to be made to
order in the United States. Three months later there
was no sign of the screens and no indication that Rear
Admiral John G. Walker, ICC Chairman, was going
to speed up the requisition for them.
On October Ii, 1904, Admiral Walker wrote: "The
doctors insist that this screening is absolutely necessary
and while it seems to me to be decidedly questionable,
whether this is so, I feel that I had no discretion in the
In November, Gorgas declared that without the
screening he felt as if he were responsible for intro-
ducing malaria among the people of Ancon and, in
December, when he learned that the Commission would
not open bids for the screens until about the middle of
the month, he protested: "We are getting fever patients
daily. Any of these could be yellow fever which we
would be unable to recognize for the first 24 hours."
Finally, just before New Years Day, he gave up..
He ordered hundreds of yards of muslin and had this
tacked over all window and door openings. It kept the
mosquitoes out but those inside the wards must have
sweltered. Gorgas' emergency measure was well-taken;
the screens did not'arrive for several more months.
Meanwhile the sanitary inspectors, under Gorgas'
direction, were taking other measures to rid the hos-
pital of the dread yellow fever. The plants and shrub-
bery, planted with such loving care by the French
nuns, were ruthlessly torn out and the grounds left
bare for a distance of 200 yards from each building.
Every patient who had a temperature was cleared
through a receiving ward and in this way cases of
yellow fever were gotten under screening as quickly as
possible. There were fine men on the hospital staff
but, even so, Gorgas attended to the fever cases per-
sonally for several years.

S KILLED workmen, under the direction of Master
Builder W. M. Belding, went ahead as fast as they
could with the repair work on the old hospital build-
ings at Ancon, installing the first water and sewage
systems, providing electricity, and putting in laundry
facilities. By September 30, 1904, Ancon Hospital had
admitted 477 patients, of whom 21 died, and in Nov-

ember 1904, Gorgas told Chief Engineer John F. Wal-
lace: "We are so crowded at Ancon Hospital that we
are having to refuse patients there every day."
At first, the health among the Canal force was good.
But as the number of non-immunes-individuals who
had never been exposed to yellow fever or malaria-
increased, so did the number of hospital patients.
During the first 10 months of the American occupa-
tion, there were no alarming outbreaks of yellow fever.
In April 1905, however, the Administration Building
in Panama (now the Panama post office building) be-
came infected. About 300 non-immune employees
worked there. Nine cases of yellow fever, two of them
fatal, occurred that month and the number increased
month by month. Altogether, from October i, 1904,
to September 30, 1905, there were 233 cases of yellow
fever and 37 yellow fever deaths.
Finally the measures taken by the health and sani-
tation men began to show results. In November 1905
Gorgas stood beside the body of a yellow fever victim
and told his young doctors to look carefully; it was,
he said, the last case they were to see. He was right.
Gorgas was jubilant and even the Isthmian Canal
Commission at the end of the year had a few words of
praise: "The fever wards in the hospitals are so care-
fully screened and so persistently examined and watched
that although the doctors and nurses in attendance are
usually non-immune, there has not been a single in-
stance in which fever has been contracted there since
the hospital passed under American control 18 months
Although the battle against yellow fever was won,
malaria was taking its toll of the construction force,
slowing down the work and filling up hospital beds
with feverish, aching, miserable patients. In 1906 there
were 21,739 cases of malaria with 233 deaths, and while
the number decreased to 16,753 cases, with 154 deaths,
the following year, malaria was to continue for several
more years as the major ailment with which doctors
and hospitals had to contend. Additional space for
patients was imperative.
In the meantime, however, Ancon Hospital had
begun to spread and grow. One of the first steps in
the expansion of the hospital was the acquisition of
the old Strangers' Hospital, at the upper end of the
grounds. One of its three wards became quarters for
the growing band of nurses, thus freeing the ward space
the nurses had at first occupied.
Forty employees of the Panama City office, who had
been using two hospital wards as quarters, were moved
to buildings outside the grounds and the 14 French
sisters and i i orphans, holdovers from the French days,
were transferred to institutions in Panama.

T HERE still remained the problem of the insane,
the lepers,. and the chronic cases which became the
responsibility of the Americans when they took over
the French hospital buildings. Accommodations for 23
insane patients were provided at first in an old building
near the hospital grounds which the French used as a
distillery. The lepers were put in an isolation ward.
In January 1905, both of these groups, as well as
tuberculosis patients and "those suffering from other
chronic and incurable diseases"-a total of about 80-
were moved to a hospital which had been established
in a temporary building at Corozal. Generally referred
to as the "Miraflores" hospital, oldtimers recall that
it stood about where Los Rios is now located.
On the Atlantic side, Colon Hospital which had been
in much worse condition than that at Ancon when the
Americans took them over, began to accept patients
on September 14, 1904. Like Ancon Hospital it became
overcrowded almost immediately. Several nearby
buildings, including the old Panama Railroad hospital,
became part of this main Atlantic side hospital. By
November 1906 it consisted of 15 separate wards in
buildings connected by covered "bridges," and could
care for 550 patients without crowding. Sixteen doctors
and 40 to 50 nurses made up its staff.
Colon Hospital accepted the medical and surgical
cases from the settlements north of Tavernilla, and
Ancon Hospital was responsible for the southern part
of the Canal Zone. In addition to these two main hos-

pitals, the Commission had established smaller hospi-
tals, with a capacity of 50 beds or less, at Culebra,
Bas Obispo, Gorgona, Empire, Las Cascadas, Paraiso,
and Gatun, and dispensaries in the other towns. No
laborer was allowed to remain in quarters if he was ill
and a hospital car crossed the Isthmus each way every
day, delivering to the main hospitals all those who
needed treatment. Mule-drawn ambulances met each
hospital train to carry patients to the wards.
Late in 1905 the Isthmian Canal Commission, which
had at first vetoed the plan, reopened the old French
hospital on Taboga Island as a sanitarium for conva-
lescents. There, those who were recuperating from
malaria or yellow fever could recover from the depres-
sion and homesickness which medical men recognized
as an almost invariable accompaniment to these fevers.
And there, incidentally, doctors and nurses could see
to it that the patients took the "quinine course" which
was a follow-up to the malaria treatment.
As the Canal construction force increased, so did the
need for the hospitals. Furthermore, the steady flow of
American families to the Canal Zone meant that med-
ical care would have to be provided for women and
children as well as for men. Until that time the hos-
pitals had been more or less "stag" institutions, but
as the families came so did the need for such innova-
tions as maternity wards and baby doctors.
Many of Ancon Hospital's early records were de-
stroyed in the first hectic cleanup and records of the
first American days are incomplete. In her memoirs,
Jessie Murdoch mentions that Ancon's first baby was
born late in the summer of 1904 and was properly bap-
tized "Theodore Roosevelt" but she does not give his
last name. The hospital's first birth of record, how-
ever, is that of Maura Edith Trowbridge. Born on
May 14, 1905, and now Mrs. Robert W. McAllister,
she was the daughter of Lafayette G. and Louisa Isabel
Employees were entitled to free medical care and
free ward accommodations in the hospitals; a private
room cost $i.5o a day. Families received free medical
treatment but if they became hospital patients they
were charged $1 a day for a bed in a ward and $1.5o
for a private room. Special nurses, when necessary,
were available for another $3 a day.

F ROM the very beginning Ancon Hospital had the
benefit of the best medical talent of those days. Dr.
John W. Ross, a Navy doctor, who became director of
the hospital system under the Americans, Dr. Henry
Rose Carter, of the U. S. Public Health Service, and
Major La Garde, Ancon Hospital's first superintendent,
were all authorities on yellow fever.
On the medical side was Dr. William E. Deeks, later
medical director for the United Fruit Company, an
internationally known authority on malaria. On the
surgical side was Dr. A. B. Herrick, who started as a
pathologist and became the hospital's chief surgeon in
1907, a post he held until he opened his own clinic in
Panama City in 1915. His fame extended from one
end of the Americas to the other.
Famed early pathologists included Dr. Samuel T.
Darling, first official Chief of the Board of Health Lab-
oratory, who discovered histoplasmosis, a fungus disease
of the internal organs, and Dr. L. H. Dunn, who did
notable work on chagas' disease.
From its very early days, Ancon Hospital had an
intern program. Many doctors who had been interns
there later developed international reputations. Among
these early interns were: Dr. Troy W. Earhart, who
succeeded Dr. Herrick as chief surgeon, and served in
that position until he retired in October 1941; Dr. Den-
nis W. Reeder, who headed the Ancon Hospital Eye
and Ear Clinic from 1911 until he went into private
practice in Panama in 1916; and Dr. William M.
James, known internationally for his knowledge of
tropical diseases.
Ancon Hospital could not expand within original
limits and as it grew it spread both uphill and down
the slopes of the hill. In 1904, Miss Hibbard estimated
the distance between the lower entrance gates and the
topmost building as about a mile.
Five years later the hospital grounds had extended
Nov. 1, 1957-Diamond Jubilee Supplement 11.

as far uphill as the spot where the new residence for the
Lieutenant Governor is being built and had spilled over
the edge of the hill to beyond the location of today's
Ancon Boulevard.
The hospital administrators did not like having
their insane patients at Miraflores-it made adminis-
trative problems clumsy-and were anxious to get them
back into the hospital grounds. Several new wards
were built in 1906 within the grounds to house the
insane but before they could be occupied by the men-
tally ill they had been taken over for the physically ill.
The transfer of the insane back to Ancon Hospital was
delayed for another year until a completely new asylum
could be constructed. This was a fenced enclosure of
one- and two-story buildings located on what later be-
came San Juan Place.
In addition to the huge new buildings which were
springing up in the Ancon Hospital grounds, others
were being enlarged or renovated. Karl P. Curtis,
now of Gamboa, who came to the Canal Zone in 1905
and was on the construction and maintenance force of
Ancon Hospital for 33 years, has a clear recollection
of that expansion period.
"In some cases," he says, "we modernized the old
French buildings by adding a second story. One ofi
those we added a second floor to was old Section C,
where the nurses quarters are now. It was two stories
in the center with a one-story wing on either side."
Several years later a scale model of this ward was sent
to the San Francisco Exposition. Today the model is
in the Library-Museum here.
In other cases, he recalled, where the French build-
ings were in only fair condition, their superstructures
were torn down and new wards built on the old founda-
tions. The picturesque, if leaky, tile roofs of the old
French wards were gradually replaced with more util-
itarian corrugated iron.
A huge, three-story building which later, as No. 217,
was to serve many newcomers as "non-housekeeping
quarters," was built uphill from the hospital's present
Section D to house bachelor employees of the hospital.
Two great ward buildings which had space for 500 to
600 patients, were put up about where the Governor's
house now stands. Beyond these big wards, at the pres-
ent location of Ridge Road, was the cemetery.
The area was so huge that the Chief Nurse made her
rounds in a phaeton, and Dr. W. E. Deeks, a specialist
in tropical diseases, used a saddle horse. Mr. Curtis
remembers Dr. Deeks as a huge man, who held that
horseback riding was "good for the liver" however hard
his bulk was on the horse.
Between July 1904 and March 1909, $462,457.18 was
spent for construction and repairs at Ancon Hospital
alone, and this did not include any work done by the
sanitary force. By this time, there were 96 buildings
in the hospital grounds, including 18 quarters for mar-
ried employees of the hospital, and four quarters for
nurses. Including the insane asylum, the hospital had
a normal capacity of 1,170 and a staff of So9-from
surgeons to scullery maids-to take care of them.
Ancon Hospital provided much of its own foodstuffs.
It had a dairy herd of from 85 to 100 head of milk cattle
specially brought from the United States, a hog farm,
and a poultry and pigeon yard to provide its patients
with fresh eggs and squabs.
Nor was the spiritual care of the Ancon Hospital
patients overlooked. Almost as soon as the Americans
took over the French hospital, they added two chap-
lains to its staff. One was a Protestant who held his
services wherever it was convenient, and the other a
Roman Catholic who at first used the chapel of the
Sisters of Charity. Later chapels were built in the
grounds for both groups.
An important part of the hospital was the Board of
Health Laboratory, which was established during the
early part of 1905. The laboratory staff did-and still
does-all of the hospital's pathological, bacteriological,
and chemical work. Outstanding work was done by the
brilliant men of this group during the construction per-
iod, including the identification of several hitherto un-
known tropical diseases.
During that part of 1904 when it was under Amer-
ican administration, it admitted 1,174 patients. Its
peak year came in 1911 with 22,275 admissions, and
in June of that year its 2,632 admissions set a monthly
record which stood until World War II.

Patient-care continued despite rebuilding the old operating room and the new administration building.

The Transformation

Ancon Into Gorgas

E VEN before the Panama Canal was completed
and the construction period ended, the medical men
of the Canal Zone were turning their thoughts toward
a permanent hospital at Ancon.
L'Hopital Central du Panama had served the French
well, in the criteria of those days. Ancon Hospital had
done yeoman service for the American construction
forces. But some of its buildings, by 1914, were 30
years old, the others had not been intended as perm-
anent construction, and all of them were running down
at the heels and expensive to keep up. Even more
important was the fact that the hospital plant had
rambled far beyond its original 8o-acre reservation and
was much too large for the reduced force which would
operate the Panama Canal.
Obviously the first thing to be decided was the ca-
pacity of the new Ancon Hospital. At first, Gorgas
talked in terms of a i,26o-bed hospital; this to include
the wards for the insane. Eventually the hospital's
administrators decided on a separate hospital for the
Canal Zone's mental patients and Ancon Hospital
planning was reduced to that for an 8oo-bed institution.
The first detailed study of the new hospital was
made by A. B. Lord, an architect who had had a hand
in designing the Administration Building at Balboa
Heights. In April 1914 a special committee was ap-
pointed "to investigate and submit recommendations
for the reconstruction of Ancon Hospital on a perm-
anent basis." On the committee were Dr. A. B. Her-
rick, then acting superintendent of the hospital; Capt.
R. E. Wood, the Panama Canal's Chief Quartermaster,
later chairman of the Board of Sears, Roebuck; and
Samuel Hitt, the Panama Canal's architect.
They considered, and rejected, a plan to move the
entire hospital downhill toward the Ancon post office.
Finally, in November 1914, they recommended that
the new hospital be built where it now stands.
Their recommendation called for five groups of ward
buildings on the edge of Ancon Hill, with a kitchen,
dining room, administration, and out-patient building
in the center. Quarters for nurses were built later.
Even before the construction of the new hospital

1914 1941

began, the Canal force had declined sharply and some
of the old buildings could be torn down. Among the
first to go were the -big wards nearest to Balboa. One
of these was the old tuberculosis ward. It was moved
to La Boca and served for years as family quarters. The
Governor's house now stands on its original site.
In April 1915, Congress appropriated funds for the
initial construction of the new Ancon Hospital. The
first buildings to go up were Sections A and B and the
Administration Building. Work on them was started
in August of that year.
The transition period was one of organized confusion.
Patients were consolidated ready for transfer. Doctors
and nurses worked in their old locations until replace-
ments were ready, moved overnight, and were ready
for business the next morning at a new spot. Patients
were trundled in wheeled chairs or in the hospital's
fancy new motorized ambulances from the old frame
buildings to beds in a brand new concrete ward.
By April 1919 the entire hospital had been rebuilt,
including a new home for its superintendent who had
been living for years in a three-story villa built by the
French and modernized by the Americans. The entire
reconstruction program cost about $2,000,000.
Modernization of the hospital's physical plant ran
hand-in-glove with the modernization of its transpor-
tation system. In 1914, Ancon Hospital had ten mule-
teams and a team of horses to pull its supply wagons,
ice and garbage wagons, and the conveyance which
hauled food from the hospital's main kitchen to the
ward kitchens. A little over two years later, after a
protracted correspondence with the Motor Department
of Leslie's Weekly magazine on what motor equipment
would be best suited for the hospital's use, almost all
of the animals had been replaced and the hospital was
the proud possessor of seven motor vehicles, including
two ambulances and a hearse. The sole remaining
team pulled the ambulance which operated between
the railroad station and the hospital.
The staff of Ancon Hospital was almost inordinately
proud of it. Col. Louis T. Hess, Ancon's superintend-
ent from 1919 to 1923, wrote lyrical accounts of what



I ". 7- .

he called "The Beautiful Ancon Hospital" for medical
journals, and had thousands of illustrated brochures
printed in English and Spanish extolling the hospital.

C OLONEL Hess had ample justification for his
pride. Ancon Hospital was not only the largest medical
institution in the western hemisphere south of the United&
States but it was also the only hospital in this area which
could handle any type of medical or surgical cases.
"It has," Colonel Hess wrote, "all the modern equip-
ment and apparatus necessary for diagnostic purposes
and operative procedures."
It had, also, an outstanding staff of 33 doctors and
81 nurses. Many of its medical and surgical personnel
were men outstanding in their fields and patients flocked
to Ancon Hospital from Central America and much of
South America.
Dr. Earhart proved to be a capable successor to his
great teacher, Dr. Herrick; many Isthmians today bear
the surgical scars of his skill. Dr. Elbert de Coursey,
later to head the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology,
was a notable pathologist; he described the first fatal
case of chagas' disease recognized on the Isthmus.
And, Dr. James S. Simmons, whose book on malaria
is considered a classic in its field, was a specialist in
tropical fevers. He later became Dean of the Harvard
School of Public Health.
As the fame of the big hospital grew and spread,
friends who had long sought a way to honor the Canal
Zone's first Chief Sanitary Officer saw it as a fitting
way to preserve his memory.
Congress agreed and on March 24, 1928, passed a
Joint Resolution which said: "In recognition of his
distinguished service to humanity and as a fitting per-
petuation of the name and memory of Major General
William Crawford Gorgas-the Government Hospital
heretofore known as the Ancon Hospital shall hereafter
be known and designated on the public records as the
Gorgas Hospital."
Eight years later, on Washington's Birthday, 1936,
in the presence of the Governor of the Canal Zone,
the Veterans of the Spanish Wars unveiled the Gorgas
plaque at the foot of the long double staircase which
leads from Gorgas Road into the hospital grounds.
Meanwhile the hospital grounds had been re-
planted with such an array of tropical plants and
flowers that they resembled, in an orderly fashion, the
superabundance of the French days. The responsibil-
ity for this landscaping belongs in large part to Elmer
F. Ohlson, for many years the hospital's chief clerk
and an orchidologist in his own right.
Except for replacement of the old housing in the

hospital grounds, Ancon Hospital was to see no further
major construction until well after World War II.
During the early part of the 1930's quarters for hos-
pital personnel were built in what is known as the
Fishbowl area, and toward the latter part of that dec-
ade Herrick Heights, with its gorgeous view, came into
being as a "doctors' reservation."
But what had happened to the other old Canal Zone
hospitals? The small emergency hospitals in the old
construction towns "along the, line" were closed down
as each community was abandoned and the population
of the Canal was rearranged after the Canal began to
put ships through from ocean to ocean. The sanitarium
at Taboga was transferred to the Supply Department
in January 1914 and became a hotel.
The old frame buildings at Colon Hospital were torn
down and a new 300oo-bed, 17-building hospital con-
structed near its original site. The new Colon Hospital,
however, stood completely on dry land instead of on
masonry pillars over shallow water. Patients were
moved into this new hospital in May 1916.
At Corozal, a collection of frame buildings, gradually
replaced by more modern concrete construction, pro-
vided space for about 400 insane patients. Until Pan-
ama established its own psychiatric hospital during the
1930's, many of the patients at Corozal were there by
arrangement with the Panamanian Government which
paid for the cost of their care.

D URING the early part of the 1920's, the Corozal
Hospital included extensive farming operations, such
as a i2o-head dairy, a piggery of 400 hogs, a poultry
yard, nursery, vegetable and flower gardens, etc.-but
much of this was discontinued when the Panamanian
Government transferred its patients to Matias Her-
nandez. At about the same time, Corozal also had an
occupational therapy program, under which the pa-
tients did carpentry and needlework.
And, during these pre-war years, modernization had
also come to the leprosarium at Palo Seco. Between
1936 and 1940 all of its old frame buildings, which
dated back to the early American days, were replaced
with modern two-story concrete and frame buildings,
with a private room for each patient.
Palo Seco's only connection with the mainland had
been by launch until 1932 when the first road to the
colony was built. In 1934, it was supplied with water
through a pipeline laid from Balboa instead of from
its former old spring-and-well-water system.
The years between 1914 and 1940 were happy, peace-
ful ones for the people of the Canal Zone, and, the
personnel at Gorgas Hospital. Then war came.

This old building, No. 217, was one of the last links between the old and new Gorgas Hospital. It was demolished
only a few years ago. First used to house bachelors, it was later transformed into non-housekeeping family quarters.

The OB-GYN building was the hospital's first major construction since the Canal construction period.

The War and Postwar

Gorgas Hospital

1941 and Since

G ORGAS Hospital had just started on its greatest
period of expansion since the construction days when
Pearl Harbor occurred. Its staff was as shocked and
horrified as were other Zonians; like the others, they
began to prepare for the dreadful days which they
feared might be ahead. Their planning and foresight
helped them to handle the heaviest patient load for
many years but, fortunately, the disasters for which
they were ready did not happen here.
For two years before December 7, 1941, the popula-
tion of the Canal Zone had been swelling steadily. The
Third Locks force was planning and beginning the con-
struction of the great locks chambers which were to
supplement the smaller locks. Other men were busy
on emergency defense measures. Contractors were en-
larging military posts and building new ones.
The military forces had increased by many thou-
sands. The Army was building hospitals at Fort Gulick
and Fort Clayton; the Navy had hospitals under way
at Coco Solo and Rousseau. But until they were com-
pleted the Canal Zone hospitals had to make room for
the Service patients.
In July 1940 the Governor of the Canal Zone reported
to the Secretary of War that the "Canal Zone's dis-
pensaries and hospitals have been taxed to capacity.
All of the wards at Gorgas Hospital have been opened
and an annex to the hospital is being constructed in
the vicinity of the Ancon laundry. An addition to the
Balbna dispensary was built and other dispensaries
were remodeled. Additional physicians were empluv ed
to take care of the increasing number of patients."
The annex to which he referred, a one-story frame
building with a capacity of ioo beds, was opened Nov-
ember 13, 1940, and within a year every bed was filled.
At about the same time a frame, two-story annex was
added to the nurses' quarters.
On the Atlantic side, work started on a ioo-bed hos-

pital in the new town of Margarita and on additions
to Colon Hospital. Onto the growing hospital system
fell the full brunt of World War II.
Some of the hospital's staff was called for emergency
conferences that Pearl Harbor afternoon; others who
could not be reached did not know of the attack until
they came in for dinner, to find the Canal Zone blacked
out and no lights in the hospital dining rooms.
At the hospital mortuary, an overflow of vaccines
from the laboratory had been stored in the refriger-
ation rooms. Max Finley, the hospital's present funeral
director, recalls that they had to rustle up ice to keep
the vaccine until the electric power came on again.
Within a few weeks the hospital's usual stock of 15 to
20 caskets had been increased to 100, just in case.
Caroline Hunt, Chief Nurse of the Ear, Nose, Throat,
and Eye Service, remembers that the clinic worked out
plans for emergency use of its suite. Its staff prepared
instrument and surgical trays, so that they would be
ready in case anything happened, and laid in a supply
of battery-powered lights and bottled water.
In the wards, the nurses worked with flashlights
masked with red cellephane or dimmed with red glass.
Winnifred Seeley, then on duty in the obstetrical ward,
remembers that the deliver) room and nursery were
lighted but their windows and doors covered so no light
could get outside.
The number of patients at Gorgas, and at the other
Zone hospitals, increased by leaps and bounds. In
May 1942, with the front sections full, orders went out
that "cases for survey, purely elective operations, etc."
were not to be admitted until the patient-load dropped.
During fiscal year ic,-S, three years before Pearl
Harbor, Gorgas Hospital had figured its patient days
at 170,811, or an average daily census of about 409.
By 1943, this figure had more than doubled to 427,455


. . . . . . . { --..

days, or a daily census of about 1,198. One day that
year there were 1,399 patients at Gorgas.
Few of its wartime cases were the direct result of
enemy action but there were some, mostly survivors of
torpedoed ships.
Indirect war casualties included a young Army officer
who died of rabies, the first such death at Gorgas Hos-
pital since the early construction days. He had been
bitten while on a mission to one of the Central Amer-
ican countries.

TIO handle its increased patient load, Gorgas
Hospital added two 25-bed wards to the annex near
the laundry. The other Canal Zone hospitals, sim-
ilarly taxed, also had to expand. Two more 25-bed
wards were added to Colon Hospital; an 8o-bed ward
was built at Corozal; and the new Margarita Hospital
which had been running at capacity almost since it
was opened, had to add another unit.
The strain on the hospital staffs was as severe as on
the hospital plants. Doctors and nurses left to enter
the military service. Interns and replacement doctors
were unobtainable. The hospitals began to train nurses
aides who could carry at least part of the nursing load.
Gradually, however, the strain on the hospitals
lessened. The Zone civilian population, which had
reached a peak of 57,390 in June 1943, began to de-
crease. By 1945, it had dropped to 44,688. Gorgas
Hospital's daily census that year averaged a respect-
able 925, the first time it had been under a thousand
for several years.,
The hospitals began to contract. Gorgas Hospital's
Section E, near the laundry, was closed, the temporary
wards which had been added to Colon Hospital were
shut down, and in 1948 Margarita Hospital was closed.
With the war years over, hospital officials had time
to draw their breaths and look around them. They
saw a plant which was becoming obsolete and in need
of much renovation. First step in a long-range program
was the construction of a new building to handle ob-
stetrical and gynecological cases. Opened in August
1950, it was the first permanent construction at Gorgas
Hospital since the 1920's. Plans were also made for a
clinics building, to be located below Section A. Foun-
dation piers were set- in place but the building was
never constructed. Earlier this year the site turned
into a large parking lot.
Late in 1951, all Pacific side dispensary services were
consolidated on the first floor of Section A. Later the
kitchen was modernized, the pediatrics section reno-
vated and a surgical recovery room added to the oper-

ating suite. These were the first of a program of
reconstruction and reorganization still continuing.
For some time representatives of the Canal organi-
zation and of the military services had been discussing
the consolidation of all hospitals in the Canal Zone.
These much-talked-of plans finally materialized in Aug-
ust 1954, with the announcement that Gorgas Hospital
would handle all military and civilian patients on the
Pacific side, consolidating its services with those of the
Army's Fort Clayton Hospital. On the Atlantic side,
the Navy's Coco Solo Hospital was to be transferred
to the Canal Zone Government and the Colon Hospital
On September I, 1954, Gorgas Hospital received its
first military patients under the new plan and on
October 27 of that year Coco Solo Hospital was opened
as a unit of the Canal Zone Health Bureau.

T ODAY, Gorgas Hospital is not only a teaching
hospital-a status it has held for years-but it is a
fully accredited medical institution. It was so rated
in 1954 by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of
Hospitals, a body made up of the American College of
Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, the
American Hospital Association, and the Canadian
Medical Association.
This means that the hospital has met the standards
of the accrediting commission as to patient care, build-
ings and equipment, and that its staff is composed of
qualified medical men with degrees from recognized
medical colleges.
Gorgas Hospital, in 1957, has 25 clinics and 37 ad-
ministrative and special departments. Its staff of 716
includes 37 staff doctors, 16 residents, 15 interns, and
146 nurses. All of the chiefs of its services are diplo-
mates in their field, which means that they have passed
examinations given by the specialty board of the Amer-
ican Medical Association, or have the equivalent sta-
tus. There are also a number of other diplomats on
the staff. All of its nurses are registered.
Today there are no more yellow fever cases at Gorgas
Hospital. Malaria is no longer the terror it once was.
Neither the Sisters of Charity nor Colonel Gorgas
would recognize much about the hospital except its
location, its rows of royal palms, the ilang-ilang trees
with their fragrant blossoms and, above all, the spirit
of its staff.
It was a great hospital in 1882. It was a great hos-
pital in 1904. It was a great hospital during two great
It is still a great hospital today.

Members of the Canal Company's Board of Directors met here recently to hear recommendations of Dr. Isadore
Falk on the future of Gorgas Hospital as well as all other Canal Zone hospitals and health services.

The diamond jubilee of the establishment
of Gorgas Hospital is being celebrated this
Because of the great contribution to the
field of medicine by this institution and the
others connected with the Panama Canal en-
terprise, the anniversary is one of truly great
significance to the Isthmus of Panama.
In many respects it may be said that the
field of preventive medicine had its birth in
this area. It was in the Canal Zone and
the adjacent cities of Panama and Colon that
a plan for the control and eradication of en-
demic diseases was first conducted success-
fully on a broad, community scale.
The success of Col. William Crawford Gor-`
gas and his associates in the promulgation

of a public health program gave iumankind a
lesson in the prevention of disease in prefer-
ence to its cure.
Only by recollection and by reading history
books and statistics can we today apprecialc
the true value of this contribution.
If health conditions prevailed here now as
they did when Colonel Gorgas found them,
almost every man, woman, and child now
livii n in the Canal Zone could expect to spend
some time in a hospital within another 12-
month period because of a preventable disease.
This special section of "The Panama Canal
Review" is devoted to telling, in part, the
story of this glowing achievement of the men
and women of medicine personified in the
names of Gorgas and Gorgas Hospital.