Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California on May 28, 1967 · 121
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Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California · 121

Oakland, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 28, 1967
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f Hospital Once A Farm Mansion 1 and ...Berkeley became I''' ' ;H!1 VrW , M ' - ' 1 S J : ' I j ..Hzi--r-T .r-rvV-' """ r , ....... t. ,-;J v-; :-,;-.rl . a .. ' -"niniir K ".. ' V f -' 1v I ... IFTY-FIVE years ago a few women in Oakland and Berkeley became convinced there should be a hospital in Alameda County especially for babies. The idea might well have gotten under way in 1912 as an "improbable success," but should you happen to be passing Fifty - First and Grove Streets in Oakland in this sixth decade ot our century you can look up and see today's thriving Children's Hospital Medical Center of Northern California, one of the major institutions for child care in the West. This is the hospital built for children by those women of 1912. and their co-workefs down through the years. The complete story of the determined founders and equally determined followers is faithfully told by Murray Morgan in a new book just published entitled "The Hospi- 4 tar:WnTenffliriorCh is an exceptionally attractive 175-page volume off the press of Lederer, Street & Zeus Company in Berkeley and can be had for $5 (tax included) from the office of The Branches, 5116 Grove Street, Oakland. All proceeds from the iwiwwSl j- mfif rffn1 fll I I "' " "' " sale of the book go to support the hospital. First known as the Baby Hospital and later as Children's Hospital of the East Bay, the institution is now increasing its fame as the Children's Hospital Medical Center of Northern California with assets of more than five million dollars, considerable sophisticated equipment, a staff of specialists and a program embracing treatment, research and teaching. The book was written under a grant , of the Anita Oliver Lunn Foundation and is a worthwhile story of a unique relationship between the women of a community and a hospital for children. It is a story worth reading, and a book worth space on the library shelf in homes throughout Alameda County. THROUGHOUT its history the -Children's Hospital has been sustained by the efforts of the women of the East Bay working through an organization known as The Branches. The story of The Branches is the story of the hospital. This one-time-mansion of the Alden and McElrath families""was the start of Children Hospital here "In 1913," Morgan tells us, "these women raised $12,000 to buy the old J. Edgar McElrath home at the southwest corner of 51st and Dover Streets as the original hospi- taLDuring 4his past year ( 1 9661 -they raised $565,000 to provide for sick children who otherwise would have been denied necessary care." Actually, The Branches was an outgrowth of the Baby Hospital As- lltoOifitiptibf Alamefla' County, tfi!' executive committee of the Board of Managers happened to be having tea back in January of 1914 at the home of the association's new president, Mrs. Duncan McDuffie. "A visitor," Morgan relates, "was Mrs. G. H. Haushaulter of Rochester, N.Y. She mentioned that in Rochester a group of women called themselves 'twigs' and met defi- cits of the Rochester General Hospital by holding an annual fund-raising fair." The idea took hold immediately. First three branches to be formed were the Blooming Branch, Topmost Branch, and Pine Needles. These were followed that same year by Linden Branch, Maple Branch, Manzanita, HilL Ma-drone and Holly. Others quickly formed were Oak Branch, Laurel, Ivy, Elder, Grape Vine, Alpha Sig-iha, Thimbleberry and Birch. "From among all these," Morgan notes, "only four survive: Linden, Laurel, Hill and Holly. However, later groups have taken the names of some of the early branches that disbanded. Olive -Branch, which developed as an off-shobt of a group organized by Mrs. W. A. Schockley to raise money for the clinic, claimed pride of precedence, listing its first meeting as July 23, 1913. It disbanded in 1922." "The Clinic received 6,093 patient visits during that first year," Morgan reports. "Then a pre-natal class was started. And the nurses-plural now, since Bertha Wright (the acknowledged mother of the Baby Hospital had been provided with a part-time assistant, Emma Roberts, -made 8,455 home calls." One was written up in the Baby Hospital Bulletin of that early day: "On a bitterly cold day last week we were called to see a baby whom the neighbors reported as dying. On arriving at the home we found the family consisting of a mother and four little children living in two small basement rooms. There was no fire in the place and the cold was intense; the three elder HILE the Baby Hospital was surviving its first year, the Clinic in the old Mc Elrath carriage house reached the w children were in bed wrapped in a thin cotton comforter and huddled close together to keep warm. "The sick baby, dressed in cotton gown and with only an old piece of cotton blanket over it, was lying in an apple box.-The mother was bending over it rubbing the little hands and feet to get them warnu Her own face was blue with -cold. The hard cough and labored breathing of the baby showed that cold weather and lack of fire had been too much for its feeble strength to bear "A fine warm fire was made, and. the baby's apple box bed pulled close to it; water was heated and an old beer bottle filled with hot water and put at the baby's feet; milk was warmed and the baby fed . . .After about two hours the house was warm, some food was in the cupboard, and the baby at least given a start toward getting well. "Three visits a day have been , made the baby since, and if Christmas brings nothing more to that little family it will have brought a well baby." " BERTHA Wright, described by Morgan as tall and angular, competent and forceful, was : the woman with the big idea for a Baby Hospital. "She never married," Morgan says, "and some called her, even in the early days, a born spinster. iNJRoriUnueflpage 21

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