By Irene Lacher 01/01/2012
Being able to pay the ever-escalating price of healthcare in this anemic economy is challenging enough, but being able to imagine a time when well-being was frequently unavailable at any price seems virtually impossible.
Ignaz Semmelweiss, a Hungarian obstetrician who theorized that hand-washing by doctors could drastically reduce infant mortality, died in a mental institution in 1865, possibly due to the stress of rejection by the medical establishment, which still believed in the chimerical practice of bloodletting. In this country, where the Civil War was raging, the lack of antiseptic care eventually killed vast numbers of soldiers with broken legs, as Dr. Lawrence Dorr of La Caňada Flintridge learned in researching his debut novel, Die Once Live Twice. Dorr explains in a profile that even doctors are mostly unaware of medical history, which the orthopedic surgeon brings to life in his new book.
As we explore the history of medicine in January’s Health issue, special thanks go to Jeannette Bovard of the Pasadena Museum of History for exhuming vintage photographs of the nascent city’s booming business as a health resort. Highlighting our photo essay are early 20th-century images of the La Viña Preventorium for Tuberculosis, which housed nearly 90 boys on a 160-acre vineyard on Lincoln Avenue, where they received the only treatment then available for the potentially fatal disease --- fresh air, bed rest and gardening duties to strengthen their muscles.
Medical history was more recently made by Pasadena immunologist Dr. Michael Gottlieb, the first doctor to identify a new disease in 1981 which came to be known as HIV/AIDS. Bettijane Levine talks to him about the threat still posed by the virus despite 30 years of progress and what needs to be done about it.
Finally, an important cultural milestone in Arroyoland is illuminated by Beth Gates Warren in her new book, Artful Lives: Edward Weston, Margrethe Mather and the Bohemians of Los Angeles. In an excerpt, Warren offers fresh details about the early career of one of the 20th century’s greatest American photographers in a small town known as Tropico, later absorbed by Glendale.