A HISTORY OF THE TULSA COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY
An Account of Thirty-Seven Years of Medical Progress
By The Physicians of Tulsa, Oklahoma
Published by: THE TULSA COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY
1202 Medical Arts Building | Tulsa, Oklahoma | 1945
Beginning in the March, 1944, issue of The Bulletin, official publication of the Tulsa County Medical Society, there appeared the first of a series of seventeen feature articles devoted to the progress of the Society since its inception in 1907. At the request of many interested physicians, these articles were collected and are reprinted herein in booklet form. Except for elimination of titles and certain minor editing, the articles are exactly as printed in The Bulletin.
The information contained in the series was taken from the Tulsa County Medical Society files and other information preserved in the Medical Library. Any inaccuracy which may occur is unintentional and represents an original error in information sources. It is not the intention of this history to ignore the good work of any individual. Written in retrospect as it is, it is possible that some may have been slighted through failure to record their contributions to the Society’s progress. Such oversights and regretted, and apologies are respectfully offered.
The material was written and placed in form by the Executive Secretary of the Tulsa County Medical Society under the supervision of The Bulletin Committee of the Society. These reprints are made available through the courtesy of The Medical Credit Bureau, 1202 Medical Arts Building, Tulsa.
The Bulletin Committee
Tulsa County Medical Society
James D. Markland, M.D., Chairman
I. H. Nelson, M.D.
Donald V. Crane, M.D.
A HISTORY OF THE TULSA COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY
The year of 1907 was an important one to the small but fast-growing Oklahoma town of Tulsa. With the Indian Territory admitted that year into the Union as the State of Oklahoma, Tulsa was experiencing a substantial boom in prosperity brought about through the development of the famous Glenn Pool (discovered in 1905) and other nearby oil fields. That same year saw the Midland Valley Railroad come to Tulsa, the opening of Tulsa’s first hospital, and the beginning of the present Carnegie Library of Tulsa. Among other things, 1907 saw the organization of the Tulsa County Medical Society.
The Tulsa of 1907 is a far cry from the modern and progressive city which it is today. Although it had passed beyond recognition as a mere “cow town”, it had yet to attain the wealth, influence, and physical beauty which the discovery of oil eventually brought about. It was a town of frame buildings, many showing signs of hasty construction to accommodate a growing population, with but few substantial constructions. The downtown district was not entirely devoid of well-built business buildings, however, for a number of civic and commercial organizations were housed in structures which rose abruptly on the Tulsa skyline to distinguish it as a city of progress and accomplishment. Even so, the real progress for Tulsa lay ahead, not in its past history.
The history of medicine in Tulsa up to 1907 had little to distinguish it from the history of medicine in other American frontier towns. Perhaps the Oklahoma outlaws and renegade Indians had accounted for more bullet wounds among the early settlers, and perhaps Tulsa experienced a high ratio of broken heads resulting from personal grievances among the followers of the oil boom. In general, however, the capable and reputable doctors of the day practiced a type of medicine that went with rough life in the open, with a horse and buggy for transportation, with an unending fight against habit and superstition, with inadequate knowledge of ills, and their cures, with too limited supplies of drugs and surgical instruments, and with the bitter competition of the medical frauds who existed so well in the unregulated conditions of the state.
By 1907, however, Tulsa had begun to resolve itself into the leading city of Oklahoma. Its physicians and surgeons had already begun to attain reputations as men of skill and ability. It is not surprising, therefore, that leading Tulsa doctors had begun to feel the need of an organized medical society shortly after the run of the century. The Oklahoma State Medical Association had been in existence for some years, but it failed to create the desired fraternity among the local members of the medical profession.
Actually, the Tulsa County Medical Society had its beginnings as early as 1906 when informal discussions were held among professional men at irregular intervals in varied meeting places. An organization known as the Tulsa Medical Society came into being on the evening of November 9, 1906, when a dozen leading Tulsa physicians met in the offices of Dr. C. L. Reeder and Dr. C. Z. Wiley at the old Malcomb Building on East Second Street. A temporary organization was set up that night with the following charter members: Dr. Reeder, Dr. Wiley, Dr. W. Albert Cook, Dr. G. H. Butler, Dr. T. F. Dailey, Dr. S. D. Hawley, Dr. J. E. Webb, Dr. S. H. Kimmons, Dr, N. W. Mayginnes, Dr. C. T. Hendershot, Dr. R. S. Wagner, and Dr. W. H. Rogers.
The purpose of this original Tulsa Medical Society was set forth as the advancement of scientific study. For several months, the Society had fortnightly meetings in the offices or various members. “Some very interesting papers came before the Society,” an old record observes. Dr. Charles L. Reeder, a prominent general practitioner, served as Chairman of the group, Dr. N. W. Mayginnes as vice-chairman, and Dr. C.T. Hendershot as secretary-treasurer.
Of all the original members of the Society, death has overtaken almost all. Dr. W. Albert Cook remains an active practitioner and a recognized specialist in ophthalmology and otolaryngology. Dr. S. DeZell Hawley passed away only last month (March, 1944) and Dr. G. H. Butler a few months earlier.
At that time a number of Tulsa doctors belonged to a regional medical society known as the Indian Territory Medical Society, whose purpose was reportedly more social than scientific. It was rather closely tied in with the Oklahoma State Medical Association and had in fact been the actual predecessor of that organization as the representative medical society of the state. The Indian Territory Medical Society had entertained the Oklahoma State Medical Association at its annual convention of 1905 in Tulsa. Some opposition to the Tulsa Medical Society arose early in 1907, principally from the members of the regional Indian Territory Medical Society. The objection to the new organization was principally that it constituted a competitive organization.
Unfortunately for the sake of romanticism, this rivalry did not develop into open enmity among the Tulsa doctors. Rather, through the diplomacy and tact of several medical leaders, representatives of both units were brought together and it was decided to combine two organizations into a single society to be known as the Tulsa County Medical Society and to affiliate as a unit of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.
This affiliation was duly accomplished early in the spring of 1907 when Dr. James Vance of Checotah, a councilman for the state association, met with Tulsa doctors in a reorganization meeting. In this manner the Tulsa County Medical Society, as such, came into being. Dr. W. Albert Cook was selected as the first president and Dr. C. T. Hendershot as the first secretary-treasurer. The Society sent its first delegates, consisting of Dr. Cook, Dr. Hendershot, and Dr. J. C. Bland, to the state convention of 1907 held in May of that year at Shawnee, Oklahoma.
There was no standard meeting place in the early years of the Society. Many were held at the newly organized Oklahoma Hospital, others at the old Commercial Club, at the offices of various members, and in rooms provided at the First National Bank Building. Programs were primarily scientific, but were distinguished by occasional dinners, social meetings with the wives, and by certain extra treats. In the latter category were the free circulation of fruit, nuts, and candy.
Somewhere along the wayside, the financial records of the early years have been lost. Some veterans insist the initial annual dues were only $5.00, others remember them as $10.00, and some recall no dues at all. It appears likely that the figure of $10.00 is the more correct one, and that necessary additions to the treasury were made by assessment.
Much of the Society’s success during its first year was due to the energetic young physician who served as the first president, Dr. W. Albert Cook. A native of Charles City, Iowa, Dr. Cook had practiced there after his graduation from Rush Medical College of Chicago in 1897. He came to Tulsa in 1902 and attained a ready success, first as a general practitioner and subsequently as an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist. Dr. Cook and his wife, the late Irene Lowe Cook, were both prominent in Tulsa and Oklahoma civic and social circles.
Another early-day Tulsa physician, Dr. R. S. Wagner assumed the presidency in 1908, with Dr. Hendershot reelected as secretary. For some reason, possibly that the Society was growing financially, a separate office of treasurer was created with Dr. S. D. Hawley serving in that capacity. After an uneventful year, Dr. W. Q. Conway became president with Dr. Walter E. Wright as secretary, both serving through 1909. Both of these years, from available records, do not appear to be particularly important except that the Society met regularly and engaged in scientific discussion.
It is unfortunate that membership records of the Society’s first five years have been lost or poorly preserved. A history of Tulsa published in 1921 indicates that the Tulsa County Medical Society had over 50 members in 1909. This is probably substantially overestimated as the membership roll for the following year of 1910 reveals only thirty members.
The financial situation of the Society apparently improved during the first three years as it is recorded that over a thousand dollars were invested in furniture for a permanent meeting room at the old First National Bank Building. Like the membership record, this amount is probably overstated. One of the mysteries to a historian of the Tulsa County Medical Society is the eventual disposition of that furniture. No one seems to recall. It is likely that it grew worn and was disposed of when the Society abandoned the Bank Building to meet in various places from time to time.
Dr. G. H. Butler, Jr., who was named as president in 1910, was the son of an old-time country doctor of Adamsville, Tennessee. Inspired by his father’s devotion to medicine, young Butler studied at the University of Louisville, graduating in 1892. For several years he practiced in Missouri, coming to Tulsa in 1905 where he made a quick reputation as a competent surgeon.
Dr. Butler was extremely interested in the activities of organized medicine and was well fitted for his duties as President of the Tulsa County Medical Society. In the earlier days of organization in 1907, Dr. Butler had been a temporary chairman of the Society. He was denied office until his election as president in 1910. There appears to be little doubt but that Dr. Butler’s administration was capable and progressive.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association again came to Tulsa in 1910, meeting for the three days of May 10-12 Dr. Butler’s address of welcome apparently made a good impression on the visitors for he was later complimented at length at the annual banquet. Whether or not it may be attributed to the fact that Tulsa was the host and reticent to participate at length in the program or that the Tulsa doctors were not invited to appear is not known, but at any rate the pr ram was singularly devoid of Tulsa speakers. Dr. C. L. Reeder was accorded the honor of being elected first vice-president, and the chairmanship Of the Surgical Section went to Tulsa’s Dr. Ross Grosshart. Dr. Walter E. Wright was named a delegate to the AMA House of Delegates.
A feature of the 1910 convention in Tulsa was a resolution asking the Governor to permit the state association to name the physician to be appointed as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma. The highpoint was the annual banquet with Tulsa’s Dr. Fred S. Clinton as toastmaster. The Tulsa County Medical Society received a resolution of thanks “for their efforts in procuring entertainment of a splendid character never before equaled in the State.
The 1910 roster of the Tulsa County Medical Society is interesting from a historical standpoint although most of the doctors listed have since passed away. Dr. P. H. Mayginnes, Dr. W. Albert Cook, and Dr. S. S. Mohrman are still active practitioners. Dr. Fred S. Clinton and Dr. C. 0. Hood are alive but in retirement. It may also be observed that Dr. Ross Grosshart was the father of Dr. Paul Grosshart, a prominent Tulsa surgeon of today, the same being true of Dr. C. Z. Wiley, father of Dr. A. Ray Wiley, and Dr. H. F. Zink, father of Dr. Roy A Zink.
Dr J. N. McCormick of Bowling Green, Kentucky, an official of the American Medical Association visited the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1910 to arrange for a course of postgraduate medical study. This course was to be provided by local physicians from material purchased from the AMA. Despite Dr. Butler’s interest in the project, it died a hurried death from a general lack of interest. Dr. McCormick’s visit of October 30, 1910, to the Society was an occasion of an elaborate dinner.
The Tulsa County Medical Society’s first four years were not particularly outstanding. Its members practiced a competent grade of medicine, but had not yet become the leaders of organized medicine in. the state. Oklahoma City physicians were the ramrods of the state organization with much additional support gained from Muskogee and Shawnee. Only a few Tulsa doctors, namely Dr. Fred S. Clinton, Dr. W. Albert Cook, Dr. N. W. Mayginnes, Dr. C. L Reeder, and Dr. G. W Butler took an active part in the Society affairs.
With the early unsettled years of organization behind, The Tulsa County Medical Society entered upon a new era at the close of Dr. G. H. Butler’s term of office in 1910. While the first four presidents of the Society had worked hard and efficiently in their posts, interest in organized medical affairs continued to center about the state association. After 1910, Tulsa doctors began to take more interest in local medical affairs and to foresee the advantages of local organization.
Coincident with the establishment of the Tulsa County Medical Society, Tulsa’s first real hospital was organized in 1906. Known as the Tulsa Hospital Association in corporate form and popularly as The Tulsa Hospital, it was the result of months of organization and planning by a group of doctors headed by Dr. Fred S. Clinton, Dr. C. L. Reeder, and Dr. C. Z. Wiley.
Dr. Fred Severs Clinton was a native Oklahoman, born near Okmulgee in 1874, the son of an early white settler of the Indian Territory. His mother was a cultured Southern woman of liberal education and refinement. Dr. Clinton graduated from University Medical College of Kansas City in 1897 and shortly thereafter located for practice in the Red Fork area. Subsequently, he moved to Tulsa and became a leader in civic and medical affairs, particularly in the activities of the Indian Territory Medical Association-and its successor, the Oklahoma State Medical Association.
The need for a hospital had been keenly felt in Tulsa for many years prior to 1906. A comparatively small and unstable population unsettled economic conditions, and lack of civic interest had forestalled the building of any properly organized hospital. Dr. Clinton, Dr. Wiley, and Dr. Reeder drew up the tentative plans in November, 1906, and shortly thereafter applied for and received a charter to operate. A ten-room unfinished residence located at the corner of West Fifth and Lawton streets was purchased by the group. Despite a lack of sidewalks, electricity, sewers, and water mains, the old house offered an excellent opportunity to the visionary doctors. Remodeling began at once, a hand-pump water system was installed, and a cesspool dug. While the work went on, the Tulsa Hospital operated in a small frame house on the North side of the town. Finally, in January, 1907, the old house at Fifth and Lawton was ready for occupancy as Tulsa’s first hospital. Dr. Fred S. Clinton was president, Dr. C. L. Reeder secretary, and Dr. C. Z. Wiley treasurer.
It was the hope of the organizers to include a school of nursing in the Tulsa Hospital. This hope became a reality almost immediately with Miss Henrietta Ziegler as Superintendent of Nurses. The hospital and training school was readily successful and expanded and grew from time to time. An advertisement appearing in the state journal of 1910 notes that it had “sunlight and air in every room, silent signal system, modernly planned and equipped.” Also that it had a private ambulance (a clapboard wagon drawn by two white horses), long distance telephone, and location on a car line. The capacity at that time (1910) was forty beds. Dr. Clinton remained as president until 1915 when other interests assumed control.
The Physicians and Surgeons Hospital, a two-story frame building located at Carson and Thirteenth Street, was organized in 1910 by Dr. G. H. Butler, Dr. S.
D. Hawley, Dr. W. Q. Conway and Dr. R. S. Wagner. It was moderately successful although an early attempt to establish a nurses training school was eventually abandoned.
In these two hospitals Tulsa physicians found adequate medical care facilities, as judged by the existing standards, for Tulsa’s sick and aged. To this was added the Oklahoma Hospital, a privately owned institution which Dr. Fred S. Clinton organized in 1915, and the Morningside Hospital, which came into being during the war years of the second decade. Of these two latter organizations, more will be said later.
The selection of Dr. Ross Grosshart as president of the Tulsa County Medical Society for the year of 1911 proved to be a happy choice. This energetic doctor had already proven his worth in the state association as chairman of the Surgery Section and had been highly complimented for his address and for the capable manner in which he conducted his section.
Dr. Ross Grosshart, born in Missouri in 1878, was the son of Dr. Joel E. Grosshart, an ambitious man whose untimely death in 1879 cut short a brief but promising career as a physician. Dr. Ross Grosshart lived in Kansas and New Mexico as a boy, later making the race into Indian Territory when it was opened to settlement by the whites. After a few years as a farmer and cattleman, he worked his way through medical college and graduated from the Kansas City Medical College in 1899. Practicing for a time in Missouri, he came to Tulsa in 1905. A specialist in surgery, he became recognized as a leading physician in his field and remained so until his death.
Dr. Grosshart insisted on a regular schedule of meetings throughout his term of office and many excellent programs were prepared. The president attempted to instill the interest of the members into the proceedings of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, but with one or two exceptions, few Tulsa physicians took part in the affairs of the state organization.
One of these exceptions was Dr. Charles L. Reeder, a pioneer Tulsa physician and civic leader. His election as President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association at the annual meeting in Muskogee in 1911 was a signal honor to the Tulsa group. An Iowan by birth, Dr. Reeder graduated from the Barnes Medical College of St. Louis in 1890. He came to Tulsa shortly thereafter and soon established a large practice. One of the founders of the Tulsa Hospital, he also labored along civic lines and brought a touch of Eastern culture to the cow-town with the establishment of the Tulsa Opera House Company.
Speaking at the annual meeting in Shawnee in 1912, Dr. Reeder made a forceful and eloquent speech urging uniform medical licensure acts among the various states, protesting against the sale of liquor in pharmacies, recommending the establishment of state tubercular sanitariums, and opposing a public movement against vaccination for contagious diseases.
Dr. Reeder led the state association through a profitable year. Many of the objectives embodied in his address were translated into resolutions and prosecuted as vigorously as possible.
Following the fine work of Dr. Ross Grosshart, the year of 1912 was considerably disappointing. For some unknown reason, the office of president was not filled until late in the year when Dr. Walter E. Wright became executive officer. Wright’s election came as a result of his fine work of several years as secretary-treasurer of the organization. Although belated in getting to work, Dr. Wright succeeded in reviving waning interest in the organization and the regular program of work was resumed. Dr. Paul R. Brown became secretary in that year.
A Missourian, Dr. Wright followed his father as a physician with his graduation from the University of Louisville in 1906. He came to Tulsa the same year and was almost immediately recognized as a leading pathologist and, later, an x-ray specialist. In later years he was to retire from the practice of medicine to devote his time to management of extensive investments and property holdings.
While a considerable number of Tulsa doctors belonged to the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1912, the number in the State Association was only 26. Unfortunately, membership in the local association did not necessarily mean membership in the state association. If any rule existed to govern this matter, it was not enforced to any great degree.
Of those who were members of the Society in 1912, the following are still alive and very much active: Dr. E. L. Cohenour, Dr. J. E. Wallace, Dr. W. Albert Cook, Dr. M. A. Houser, Dr. P. H, Mayginnes, and Dr. S. S. Mohrman. Dr. Fred S. Clinton and Dr. Paul R. Brown are alive but retired from active practice.
In the absence of the Medical Arts Building and others as strictly professional buildings, the bulk of the doctors of 1912 had their offices in the Bliss Building or the First National Bank Building.
As if to compensate for his shortened term of office, Dr. W. E. Wright continued to serve as president until March, 1913, when Dr. W. W. Brodie assumed office. Dr. Brodie was a likeable and capable physician who had served the Society as vice-president during Dr. Wright’s irregular term of office. Throughout the balance of 1913 he continued the effective work of the Society, concentrating upon improving the Society’s status in the state association. His success here was demonstrated to some extent by the appearance of a number of Tulsa doctors on the program of the annual state convention in Enid on May 14-15, 1913. Dr. W., Albert Cook, Dr. E. F. Hayden, Dr. Fred S. Clinton, and Dr. A. W. Roth delivered scientific papers. It is of interest to note that three other doctors residing in other cities but later to become prominent Tulsa physicians appeared on the program-Dr. P. P. Nesbitt of Muskogee, Dr. G. A. Wall of Oklahoma City, and the late Dr. Fred Y. Cronk of Guthrie. Mrs. P. H. Mayginnes of Tulsa was a leader in the Ladies Auxiliary program of that year.
The Tulsa County Medical Society entered its eighth year in January, 1914, with the election of Dr. N. W. Mayginnes as president. Tulsa was continuing to grow despite some unsettlement in business conditions occasioned by the threat of a general European war. Interest of the medical profession at that time was centered about improvements in obstetric science and methods of combating the dread spinal meningitis. In Oklahoma there was some grumbling among psychiatrists because the Oklahoma State Medical Association, failing to recognize the growing value of psychiatry to medicine, had moved to combine the Psychiatry and Neurology Section with the General Medicine Section. In problems of medical economics, the Oklahoma doctors were recognizing the defects of the existing pure foods act and were campaigning for amendment.
Dr. Niceus Walker Mayginnes was born in Missouri on April 29, 1856, the fourth of eight children. His father, Samuel Mayginnes, was a native Pennsylvanian who came to Missouri in young manhood, settling in Henry County. With the outbreak of the Civil War, the elder Mayginnes’ Union sympathies led him to Kansas where he organized and captained the Thirteenth Kansas Cavalry. After the close of hostilities, he returned to Missouri and later (1869) moved with his family to Kansas.
Dr. N. W. Mayginnes worked on his father’s farm as a boy, later attending University Medical College of Kansas City, from which he graduated in 1884 as a Doctor of Medicine. He practiced variously in Kansas, removing in 1891 to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he became a prominent civic leader as well as a leading physician. Dr. Mayginnes came to Tulsa in 1903 and had shortly established a busy practice in the area. He was an early member of the old Indian Territory Board of Medical Examiners. Later, in 1907, he assisted in the organization of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. Dr. Mayginnes was also a qualified business leader. His interest in banking led him to assist in the establishment of the First National Bank of Tulsa and later the old Liberty National Bank. His brother, Dr. P. H. Mayginnes, followed him to Tulsa in 1908 and soon enjoyed an equally large practice. Dr. N. W. Mayginnes died some years ago, but Dr. P. H. Mayginnes remains in active practice in Tulsa. The two brothers contributed much to Oklahoma medicine and to the progress of Tulsa’s civic and cultural achievement.
Unfortunately, the records of the Tulsa County Medical Society for the years of 1914 and 1915 have not been preserved. However, there are indications that interest in the local society and in medical organizations had picked up. The dues were $6.00 annually, most of the fund being expended in meeting the expenses of visiting speakers. The scientific programs continued regularly through the year and were well attended. Meetings were held in the old Commercial Club and in certain hotels and medical and health institutions of the city.
Dr. N. W. Mayginnes and his successor, Dr. Paul R. Brown, who served in 1915, were the first presidents to make full use of the committee method of prosecuting the work of the Society. The number of committees were small, the more important being Program, Public Health, Censor & Membership, and Legislative. Both Dr. Mayginnes and Dr. Brown attempted to foster interest in medical legislative affairs, and there is considerable indication that they succeeded very well.
Among the leaders in the Tulsa County Medical Society at that time were Dr. R. V. Smith, Dr. C. Z. Wiley, Dr. W. Albert Cook, Dr. W. H. Rogers, Dr. Fred S. Clinton, Dr. A. W. Emerson, Dr. C. L. Reeder, Dr. W. Forrest Dutton, and Dr. Ross Grosshart.
Dr. Paul R. Brown, who had served several terms as Secretary-Treasurer, was elevated to the presidency of the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1915. Through the cooperation of many interested members, he guided the Society through a profitable year, laying emphasis on scientific education but not neglecting other phases of activity. Born in 1876, Dr. Brown was graduated from the University of Maryland College of Medicine in 1901. Shortly thereafter he came to Tulsa and established himself as a leading physician. Since his retirement a few years ago, Dr. Brown has lived quietly at his Tulsa home.
The administration of Dr. Brown’s successor, Dr. William H. Rogers, in 1916, followed the patterns set by his predecessors. Dr. J. W. Rogers became Secretary-Treasurer that year. Dr. W. H. Rogers was a quiet, likeable fellow who was associated at one time with Drs. C. L. Reeder and C. Z. Wiley. In later years, he was bedded with a cancerous infection and died some years ago.
Throughout 1916 and the war years which followed, Dr. Rogers was interested to a considerable extent in improving conditions for intern training. He early advocated the establishment of a hospital in connection with the University of Oklahoma medical school, where students might gain first-hand information. To this end, he invited Dr. LeRoy Long, then dean of the medical department at Oklahoma University, to argue the case before the membership at the meeting of December 18, 1916. At that time, the membership approved resolutions recommending the appropriation of $200,000.00 by the State Legislature for the construction of what is now University Hospital in Oklahoma City. At the same time, Dr. Rogers forced through a resolution authorizing a special committee to contact the district legislators and present the Society views to them. For some reason, this idea received considerable opposition and was approved only by a margin of a few votes. The special committee met with the legislators on January 27, 1917, receiving their pledge of support in the project.
The year of 1916 also saw the establishment of another Tulsa hospital, The Oklahoma Hospital, by a group headed by Dr. Fred S. Clinton. The charter for this institution was granted December 11, 1915, and provided for the establishment of a training school of nurses. Dr. Clinton, who had withdrawn from the Tulsa Hospital Association, was president of the new unit. Miss Henrietta Ziegler was named Superintendent of Nurses. The new hospital was constructed at West 9th and Jackson in the Riverview Addition. Due to war conditions abroad and the demand for critical construction materials, there was some difficulty in securing the necessary materials. This was eventually accomplished and the structure was ready for patients in June, 1916.
Dr. Clinton was kind enough to invite the Tulsa County Medical Society to hold its meeting at the Oklahoma Hospital on several occasions. It was observed in the records that the nursing staff provided some excellent entertainment at a number of the meetings.
It is interesting to note that the Tulsa County Medical Society in those early years took cognizance of problems which were to be actually solved many years later. For instance, the members discussed the possibility of a group policy of malpractice insurance. More important, however, was their interest in amending the inadequate Medical Practice Law of Oklahoma. Passed in 1908, it was in dire need of amendment-a need which was not fulfilled until 1931. The need for a basic science act was likewise paramount, even as far back as 1916. The laxity of regulating laws at that time was encouraged by an equally lax legislature and governor.
In medical problems, the doctor of 1916 recognized the need for public education in the nature of syphilis and other venereal diseases. However, it was twenty years before a more sober-thinking generation was to publicize the dread details of these diseases. Dr. C. Z. Wiley, speaking at an early meeting of the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1917, condemned the existing codes of thought and modesty for permitting the public to go in ignorance of the nature of syphilis and gonorrhea.
Also in the early years there were foresighted doctors who saw the need of a community medical library where members of the Society could obtain the latest medical literature in all fields. Dr. W. H. Rogers is said to have encouraged an arrangement among members where free lending of available material was made possible. There is some indication that the Tulsa County Medical Society expended a portion of its funds in subscribing to medical journals. However, most of these publications were organs of medical organizations devoted to nonscientific purposes, and were taken for their value in obtaining a cross-section of medical opinion on mutual problems throughout the nation.
War clouds were ominous when the Tulsa County Medical Society met to select officers for the year of 1917. Dr. A. W. Roth, who had established himself as a leading otolaryngologist-ophthalmologist, was elected president. Dr. A. V. Emerson was named vice-president and Dr. W. Forrest Dutton elected as secretary-treasurer. Dr. Charles D. F. O’Hern was named censor, with Dr. W. H. Rogers, Dr. C. Z. Wiley, and Dr. N. W. Mayginnes as delegates.
Dr. Albert Walton Roth was a graduate of the Class of 1900 at the Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago. He came to Tulsa in 1910 and soon became a leader in civic and medical circles. Born in Fairfield, Iowa, in 1873, Dr. Roth was backgrounded by the successful business career of his father, a merchant and bank official, and by his own postgraduate medical career in Detroit, New York City, and Texas. He has long been interested in the activities of the Tulsa YMCA and did much to further that organization. His wife, the former Anna Crawford, has been equally active in Tulsa’s civic life. Dr. Roth retired from practice in 1943, was subsequently elected to honorary membership in the Tulsa. County Medical Society, and now resides at his Tulsa home.
Dr. Roth was fortunate in having the assistance of Dr. W. Forest Dutton as secretary-treasurer. Dr. Dutton is recalled for his interest in the activities of the Society. Born in Ohio in 1876, Dr. Dutton returned from the Spanish-American War to study at Ohio Medical University at Columbus, from which he graduated in 1903. For ten years he practiced as a specialist in industrial medicine, one of a very few in that specialty at that time. Dr. Dutton came to Tulsa in 1914 and soon became a leader in various fraternal organizations and in the affairs of the local and state medical societies.
Early in Dr. Roth’s administration the Society took action to condemn and, if necessary, prosecute what the recording secretary termed “ambulance chasing and advertising specialists”. Another early feature of Dr. Roth’s year was the showing of scientific medical motion pictures to the Tulsa County Medical Society. While such activity is now commonplace, the motion picture of 1917 was still in a stage of development and not too well suited for the purpose of recording scientific data. Dr. Walter E. Wright presented the pictures at his laboratory on the night of March 19, 1917. They were devoted to blood transfusion and bone graft methods.
In the first few months of 1917 the Tulsa County Medical Society was asked to assist in gathering venereal disease statistics for the Bureau of Social Hygiene, New York City. It was felt at the time that this would be a difficult task. The matter was referred to the Committee on Public Health. Some statistics were obtained subsequently and forwarded to the Bureau.
The entrance of the United States into the general European war in April, 1917, brought new problems to American medicine and to the Tulsa County Medical Society, problems which were to reappear some twenty-five years later when the nation was plunged, again into a long war with Germany and her allies.
The war of 1917 was expected. For months the medical journals of the day had foreseen the struggle, crowding its pages with the issues of military medicine and warfare. Reserve fighting units had stepped up training schedules, bringing home the imminent possibility of war.
Looking back on the First World War from the midst of a second, it is almost impossible to believe the comparatively small scale on which it was constructed. When compared with the extents of today’s war, it seems small indeed. The journal of the American Medical Association in April, 1917, cried in alarm that 1,000 additional physicians were to be taken into the armed forces to care for an estimated army of 500,000 men. It viewed the possible enlistment of 2,000,000 men as improbable, commented on the fact that 10 per cent of the civilian medical personnel would be required to care for such a huge reserve of fighting men. Twenty-five years later, the nation was to put 11,000,000 men into uniform with prospects for an additional million before the war’s end. Civilian medical resources were to be cut 25 to 75 per cent in many areas to secure necessary physicians for the armed forces.
The coming of the war excited great interest among the members of the Tulsa County Medical Society. Whether or not they discussed its problems and progress at the regular Society meetings cannot be determined from the minutes of 1917 and 1918, but it is a safe bet that the war was the number one topic of conversation among the Tulsa medical men of the day.
There was an immediate call for physicians and surgeons by the armed forces. Advisory boards for recruiting of medical officers was set up in all states and within a few months the services had assigned procurement officers to supplant the civilian advisory boards. Procurement officers in Oklahoma were initially stationed in Oklahoma City and at Fort Sill. The response was quite good, especially among Tulsa doctors, and many commissions were placed in process the same month that war was declared.
Few medical officers, except those in active reserve units, were called to active duty in the first three months of the war. The army undertook to establish camps for training of medical officers. The first of these apparently got into operation in June, 1917. Each camp had accommodations for approximately 600 men. Although commissioned outright, medical officers while in camp trained as cadets with ranks accordingly. The twelve-hour schedules were quite thorough with refresher courses in medicine, briefing of military tactics, and physical exercises. Many camps, surprisingly enough, provided courses in riding and the care of animals.
In general, the Army of 1917 sought officers for the medical corps who had attained their 31st birthday, but were not over 45. Exceptions were made both ways, however, although officers over 45 were not sent to training camps as with the younger men. Men under 31 were subject to normal operation of the draft, but the Army preferred to commission these men in the Medical Corps. Curiously enough, a number of American physicians elected to serve in the ranks or as officers with fighting or supplemental units. This is in contrast with the recent war where almost no physicians are outside the commissioned personnel of the medical units of the Army and Navy.
From best available records, the Tulsa County Medical Society’s first man in service was Dr. Henry S. Browne, today a prominent Tulsa urologist. Dr. Browne was an enthusiastic young graduate of Tulane who had become readily popular with Tulsa medical men. He had served the Tulsa County Medical Society as secretary pro-tem on many occasions and had taken an equally prominent part in its scientific programs. Dr. Browne’s orders arrived in July, 1917. A notation in the journal of the American Medical Association for August 4, 1917, read as follows: “Army Orders: To report by telegraph to the commanding general, Southern Department, for assignment to duty, Lt. H. S. Browne, Tulsa.”
A great number of other Tulsa County doctors followed Dr. Browne into service. Many of the present members who were in medical schools and serving hospital internships were not placed in uniform, but were permitted to complete their schooling before assignment to service units.
It is impossible, of course, to list the names of all Tulsa doctors who saw service in World War I, and no attempt will be made to list them here. Needless to say, they served efficiently and courageously. Many saw service overseas and some were decorated for their gallantry under fire.
The journal of the American Medical Association made a practice through the war years of recording the activities of American medical officers. They make interesting reading for the names of many Tulsa County men appear from time to time. A few examples may be cited: Dr. George H. Clulow received identical orders to those of Dr. Browne in August, 1917. A photograph of medical training units at Fort Riley, Kansas, reveals Dr. S. J. Bradfield, complete with the G. I. hairstyle of the day. Dr. C. R. McDonald, of nearby Mannford, Oklahoma, was also in that picture. Lt. D. L. Garrett, notes the JAMA, was ordered to the Army Medical School at Philadelphia “for a course of instruction in orthopedic surgery”. And here is a notation that Lt. Joel S. Hooper is ordered to Washington University, St. Louis, “for a course of instruction in dermatology.” And so the orders for military service came for Tulsa County men. Eventually the young men were consumed as the army grew into fighting strength.
In Tulsa a medical advisory board was created to examine applicants for the services. Volunteer doctors worked long hours each week, at first two nights a week, then three, four, and finally five. Dr. N. W. Mayginnes was chairman of this advisory board with Dr. J. F. Gorrell as secretary. Their principal assistants were Dr. G. A. Wall, Dr. W. Forrest Dutton, the late Dr. Fred Y. Cronk, Dr. R. M. McVicker, Dr. A. W. Roth, Dr. W. Albert Cook, the late Dr. Horace T. Price, and a number of Tulsa dentists. Many of these men later left their post to enter the armed services. Chief medical examiners for the Tulsa draft boards were Dr. Fred S. Clinton, Dr. S. D. Hawley, and Dr. C. L. Reeder.
The Tulsa County Medical Society found it difficult to maintain interest in Society activities under the stress of the war excitement. For one thing, membership had fallen off to a considerable extent. Eventually it became necessary to solicit new members. Dr. G. A. Wall, Dr. W. W. Beesley, and Dr. J. F. Gorrell were appointed by President A. W. Roth at the September 17, 1917, meeting to constitute a committee to solicit new members. It was decided that any new member would not be charged any dues for the balance, of the year. The drive brought the following Tulsa doctors into the organization during the Fall of 1917: Dr. Charles H. Ball, Dr. R. A. Douglas, Dr. James B. Gilbert, Dr. H. B. Gwin, Dr. T. M. Haskins, Dr. R. S. Lynn, Dr. Berthe Margolin, Dr. D. U. Wadsworth, Dr. T. B. Coulter, Dr. F. M. Boso, Dr. Emile Roy, Dr. J. Walter Beyer, Dr. A. W. Pigford, Dr. W. E. Nichols, and Dr. W. D. McVicker. While some of these doctors had previously been members and had allowed their membership to lapse, most were newcomers to the Society. Apparently, the membership drive was a big success.
The Tulsa County Medical Society membership was considerably agitated in 1917 and in the years that immediately followed by the large number of illicit and irreputable doctors who were “practicing” medicine. An attorney was employed by the Society to institute legal proceedings against four such Tulsa practitioners. Eventually some satisfaction was obtained in the matter through the Society’s efforts and a number of medical frauds were forced to discontinue practice. Later in the year additional charges were made against certain other doctors and referred to the State Board of Medical Examiners for disposition.
The Society also devoted considerable attention to sanitary conditions in Tulsa, especially to those in places of public entertainment. A committee, consisting of Dr. W. Forrest Dutton, Dr. N. W. Mayginnes, and Dr. C. Z. Wiley met with the City Commissioners and secured approval of a valuable program to improve sanitary and health conditions in public institutions, schools, places of entertainment, etc. It was a noteworthy accomplishment. The efforts of the Society to this end led to the eventual appointment of a City Physician.
There was a strengthened respect for medical ethics and ideals as a result of this program of work. The fight against the medical fraud did not overshadow a recognition of certain conditions within the ranks of reputable physicians. Society leaders forced a showdown on many practices which were detrimental to the doctor and patient alike. For instance, the Society censored the practice of operating without the assistance of a physician as an anesthetist. This particular action was taken through the influence of Dr. G. A. Wall and Dr. S. D. Hawley.
Dr. Berthe Margolin was the first woman physician to be elected to the Society. Whatever opposition there might have been was quickly melted when Dr. Margolin made a charming speech of thanks for her election and expressed the hope that she might become a regular supporter of the Society.
Dr. N. W. Mayginnes brought additional credit to the Tulsa County Medical Society by the competent manner in which he served as District Councilor for the Oklahoma State Medical Association. He did a very excellent job and succeeded in knitting together the doctors of Northeastern Oklahoma. Through his efforts the Society entertained the North East Medical Society, a regional organization of physicians, in November, 1917.
Dr. A. W. Roth’s highly successful term of office as President of the Tulsa County Medical Society during the war year of 1917 was followed by another good year under the guidance of Dr. H. D. Murdock. Despite a constant drain on the membership to meet military needs, the second war year of 1918 saw a continuation of the activities and policies of the previous year.
Dr. Harry Dale Murdock was a graduate of the Rush Medical College of Chicago, Illinois, Class of 1905. Early in his medical career he developed a competent surgical technique which quickly won him recognition as a physician and surgeon of ability. Following his entry into the Tulsa medical profession in 1911, Dr. Murdock took an active part in the affairs of organized medicine and in beneficial civic projects. His quick friendliness and direct enthusiasm made him one of the most respected and popular of the Tulsa doctors, a respect and popularity which exists to this day.
Meeting December 3, 1917, at the Hotel Tulsa, the Tulsa County Medical Society named Dr. Murdock by unanimous vote. Not withstanding the fact that Dr. R. S. Wagner had served as president in 1908, that physician was selected as vicepresident. Dr. W. J. Trainor, another rising Tulsa doctor, was installed as Secretary -Treasurer. Censors were Dr W. G. Lemmon and Dr. A. V. Emerson. Dr. A. W. Roth was named state delegate. The election was followed by a lecture on pericardial adhesions by Dr. J. Curtis Lyter, professor of internal medicine at St. Louis University, whom the Society had brought down from St. Louis for the event.
Dr. Murdock’s persistent interest in public health, which continues unabated in 1945, was probably responsible for the Tulsa County Medical Society’s first project of 1918-an open meeting to which the public was invited for the purposes of discussing public health problems. Although the public turnout was only moderate, the Society succeeded in fostering interest in certain public health projects. Dr. W. Forrest Dutton, Supt. R. J. Oberholzer of the public school system, and a Tulsa dentist were featured on the program.
Early in 1918 the Society again took up the cudgel against unethical medical practices. Dr. W. Albert Cook, Dr. G. A. Wall, and the late Dr. Fred Y. Cronk headed an investigating committee to consider charges brought against two members of the Society. To the credit of those members, it can be said they were exonerated. The incident served to curb irregular practices among a few non-conformists, however.
The Tulsa County Medical Society was again privileged to be host to the Oklahoma State Medical Association at the annual convention of May, 1918. It is interesting to note how the war conditions of 1918 were to be later duplicated in the Second World War some twenty-five years later. Hotel accommodations were at a premium and many of the visitors were quartered in private homes. The committee on arrangements found it difficult to provide a banquet for the doctors in attendance. Identification badges were considerably more expensive because of the advances in labor and materials costs. However, the difficulties were overcome and an excellent convention was staged. Much of its success was due to the efforts of Dr. Murdock. Dr. W. E. Wright, and Dr. G. A. Wall.
The financial situation of the Tulsa County Medical Society was comparatively sound in 1918. After the heavy expenses of the state convention, which was partially financed by a per member assessment of $10.00, the Society had over $800.00 to its credit in a Tulsa bank.
Old records indicate that the Society purchased a service flag containing a star for each member in the service from Tulsa County. The flag hung for a time in the clubrooms of the old Commercial Club. After that, it seems to have disappeared.
Among the speakers of 1918, interestingly enough, was Tulsa’s own Captain Paul R. Brown, who spoke at length on his experiences with the Medical Corps at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s Occupation Tax gave Tulsa doctors considerable annoyance that year. Despite some effort by Dr. Murdock and others, it became necessary for the local members to pay the objectionable tax.
For the first time, the Tulsa County Medical Society adopted its continuing policy of suspending scientific meetings for the summer. The action was prompted by the consistently poor attendance at meetings during the summer months.
With Dr. W. J. Trainor off to service, Dr. Paul N. Atkins assumed the position of Secretary-Treasurer in September, 1918. The Society condemned the state association for its active public participation in a private matter involving two Tulsa doctors. It passed a resolution guaranteeing the protection of service doctor’s private practices during their stay of duty with the Army and Navy. It devoted considerable attention to method of combating the dread influenza epidemic which swept Tulsa and almost all other parts of the nation. It sought to reduce or limit the basis for physical rejection of medical men by the armed forces, thereby enabling more doctors to enter the service. Some of the members elected that year (1918) were Dr. T. W. Stallings and Dr. 0. A. Flannagan. The year closed with a social meeting at the Hotel Ketchum on December 16, 1918, attended by members and their wives. After the banquet and business meeting, the Society adjourned to the old Empress Theater for a program of motion pictures and stage entertainment.
The interest of Tulsa County Medical Society members in the activities of the Oklahoma State Medical Association had become more pronounced through the years, culminating with the election of Tulsa’s Dr. W. Albert Cook as president of the state association for 1917-18. Dr. Cook led the association through a successful year made difficult by the war conditions. The Tulsa doctors were still reticent about contributing to the state association’s journal and in appearing on the program of the annual convention. Only a few participated-notably Dr. Ross Grosshart, Dr. A. W. Roth, Dr. G. A. Wall, Dr. M. P. Springer, Dr. W. Forrest Dutton, and Dr Peter Cope White. Even so, the interest was growing appreciably.
The membership stood officially at 60 when the Tulsa County Medical Society published its roster at the end of 1918. Of this number, about ten were practicing outside of Tulsa proper in the neighboring towns of Broken Arrow, Collinsville, Sand Springs, etc. There were considerably more doctors in Tulsa at the time. The fluctuations in the membership list, however, were most pronounced. Unfortunately, many members were continually being dropped and subsequently added because of their irregularity in paying annual membership dues.
The election of Dr. Gregory A. Wall as president for 1919 denoted a further continuation of the policies instigated by his two earlier predecessors in office. Dr. Wall was a foremost medical leader whose warm enthusiasm for his profession made him a valuable helmsman for organized medicine. Born in 1866, Dr. Wall graduated from Washington University School of Medicine only twenty years later. His competent surgery brought him a nationwide reputation. His removal to Tulsa from Oklahoma City gave the Tulsa County Medical Society an efficient and tireless leader. Just back from service with the Army, Dr. Wall plunged into his new job with his accustomed enthusiasm. He was assisted by a man of similar qualities, Dr. A. W. Pigford, in the office of SecretaryTreasurer.
Medical leaders, in cooperation with other civically minded men, were attempting at that time to secure the establishment of a city clinic and a city hospital. There was considerable opposition to the project from certain quarters despite a pronounced need for facilities of this type. Dr. Wall’s first problem was in connection with this project. Tulsa County doctors and dentists met early in February in an attempt to create a workable proposition. The late Dr. James B. Gilbert, Dr. W. W. Beesley, and the late Dr. C. Z. Wiley were the members of a committee which met with the Mayor of Tulsa several times relative to the project. Apparently nothing came of it.
In its scientific work, the Tulsa County Medical Society early in 1919 became quite interested in syphilis and gonorrhea. Too little attention had been given by medical literature to the subject of venereal disease. The general lay public was in almost complete ignorance of its nature, and ignorance which made more difficult its early discovery and proper treatment. Many Tulsa County members presented papers regarding venereal infections throughout 1919 and 1920. In April, 1919, Colonel Jean Lauteman, a Canadian physician, discussed the subject with the membership.
The Society was meeting at that time in the Chamber of Commerce headquarters, at the Ketchum Hotel, or occasionally in the old Municipal Hall. The attendance averaged twenty or twenty-five. Programs were primarily scientific but there continued to be considerable interest in local medical problems, particularly the violation of medical ethics. Programs were occasionally interrupted by some unusual circumstance or competitive attraction. The minutes for the meeting of April 28, 1919, observes sagely that “Dr. Murdock’s paper was postponed on account of the prize fight.” Dr. Murdock’s reactions to this rude reception to his paper were not recorded.
In June, 1919, the Tulsa County Medical Society brought Dr. S. S. Glasscock of Kansas City to Tulsa for a public lecture on health and medical problems. After an impressive luncheon meeting well attended by Tulsa civic leaders, the evening program saw “very few members and few visitors” present for what was otherwise an “excellent” talk by Dr. Glasscock. The minutes clearly reflected the officers’ disappointment at the poor turnout.
By the autumn of 1919, the Tulsa County Medical Society had regained its pre-war strength as in-service members were gradually returned to civilian life. Most of the medical officers serving in the United States were retired from active duty almost immediately. Others, particularly those overseas, remained in service for a longer period with some entering Germany with the Army of Occupation. Tulsa’s Dr. Henry S. Browne, who was the first in uniform, was also one of the last to be discharged after eight months with the occupational forces.
Normal conditions were beginning to prevail again and the interest of the doctors returned to non-military matters. A number of new faces made their appearance at this period-mostly discharged youngsters from the Medical Corps who were seeking promising locations for a permanent practice. There was some additional influx of doctors, from the smaller towns as the fast-growing Tulsa beckoned with new opportunities.
Dr. Gregory A. Wall, in the midst of his first year as President, endeavoured constantly to improve interest in the scientific study of medicine under Society auspices. With Dr. R. V. Smith and Dr. Charles H. Ball, he undertook to revive the almost defunct Northeast Oklahoma Medical Society, which had been so active before the war. Interest lagged outside of Tulsa and the regional society never regained its former prominence despite Dr. Wall’s work.
For the first time in several years there was marked improvement in the number of scientific articles contributed to various medical journals by Tulsa doctors. Dr. Fred S. Clinton, Dr. Ross Grosshart, Dr. G. A. Wall, Dr. Charles H. Ball, Dr. M. V. Stanley, Dr. J. F. Gorrell, Dr. A. W. Pigford, Dr. J. W. Rogers, Dr. T. W. Stallings, and Dr. T. B. Coulter were among the authors of 1919-20.
The year of 1919 also saw the beginnings of St. John’s Hospital, which was to become Tulsa’s largest hospital. The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother obtained title to a tract of land at Utica and Twenty-First streets and in the same year conducted two public drives in Tulsa to obtain funds to finance construction of the original building. Representatives of the Order appeared before the Tulsa County Medical Society at the meeting of October 13, 1919, to explain the blueprints of the projected hospital. It was anticipated that some 18 to 24 months would be required to complete the structure. General John J. Pershing turned the first spade of dirt in February, 1920.
Tulsa doctors were considerably elated with the prospects for the new hospital. Facilities for the care of the sick in the county were limited and the need for new hospitals grew almost daily. A group of Oklahoma Baptists also made plans in 1919 for a $500,000.00 hospital in Tulsa, but for some reason the project did not progress beyond the discussion stage.
Throughout the post-war period the Tulsa County Medical Society maintained a strong interest in a continuing project against fraud and quackery in medicine. Dr. Wall and the secretary-treasurer, Dr. A. W. Pigford, were in constant communication with the State Board of Medical Examiners in efforts to secure legal action against the irregular practitioners. Some of these old records and letters, still preserved in the Society offices, reflect the strong determination of the leaders in the fight. Chiropractors and osteopaths came in for close scrutiny. The Society was upset when the telephone company failed to make any distinction between medical doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths, and other types of doctors in its classified listings. All were grouped simply as “Doctors”. A Society committee apparently rectified that error as subsequent editions of the telephone directory distinguished between the various types of medical groups. One edition, in fact, listed the Tulsa County Medical Society members separately and under such heading. It was a notable accomplishment which was not repeated in subsequent editions.
Dr. Gregory A. Wall had performed so capably as president and Dr. A. W. Pigford as secretary-treasurer that they were retained for a second term of office in 1920. Dr. Wall was the only Society president to hold office for two terms. (Dr. Henry S. Browne, who was named president in 1931, had previously completed the term of office of Dr. C. T. Hendershot, who died in 1929). Following a quiet election the Society adjourned for an annual banquet at the Kennedy Restaurant. The meal was gratis, the Society having appropriated $425.00 from the Treasury to finance the event. During the following month, the Society danced at the old Ketchum Hotel for the moderate outlay of $40.00
Dr. Wall entered his second year as President with several projects on the program of activity. The Society went on record as opposing the high fees being charged by private nurses, and eventually secured some moderation in the rates. There were a number of conferences with city leaders and officials in an effort to secure representation on the City Health Commission. A fight against a small hospital with questionable ethics and business procedures was begun. Dr. R. V. Smith initiated a movement for a Society-owned medical library (a project which was not actually realized for twelve years). Plans for a venereal disease clinic were underway. A representative fee schedule was adopted. The Nurses Professional Registry was created under Society auspices.
Later in the year, the Society undertook an aggressive campaign to defeat the so-called “Chiropractic Referendum” at the November elections. This issue was a referendum to permit Oklahoma chiropractors to continue practice without being graduates of a medical school or passing an examination by a state examining board. The Tulsa County Medical Society donated more than $1,000.00 to fighting the bill and an extraordinary amount of time. Despite the concerted efforts of the profession and its friends, the bill was defeated and the chiropractors went their unregulated way. More than ever, medical doctors felt the need of a basic science act as a means of protection to the public. But a disinterested public, unconcerned with its own welfare, cast an ignorant vote at the polls. The chiropractors, elated by their success, announced their intentions to prosecute legislation to control medical doctors, legislation which would require the presence of a lay witness to all operations, to eliminate Latin prescriptions, and other regulations. It was discounted by the profession as a nuisance, and nothing came of the retaliatory threats.
The Tulsa County Medical Society numbered 141 members with the publication of the annual roster in June, 1920. Doctors were pouring into the state and the state medical association reported an increase of 120 members in a four-month period.
The Oklahoma Hospital Association continued to draw its leadership from the eastern portion of the state. Dr. Fred S. Clinton and Dr. C. L. Reeder of Tulsa, Dr. A. S. Risser of Blackwell, and Dr. J. H. White of Muskogee were its officials for 1920-21. Mr. Paul H. Fesler, now Executive Secretary of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, acted as Executive Secretary in addition to his duties as supervisor of University Hospital at Oklahoma City.
Dr. Wall’s two-year term of office reflected two important years of progress for the Tulsa County Medical Society. The changeover from a military to peacetime economy was effected efficiently for Tulsa doctors. The busy schedule of work indicated a growing member interest in its own welfare and in the power of organization.
It was only natural that Dr. A. Winfrey Pigford be rewarded for his enthusiastic work as Secretary-Treasurer by being named as President of the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1921. The son of a railway official, Dr. Pigford was born in 1883 at Meridian, Mississippi. His early interest in science and medicine led him to study for a medical degree at the University of Mississippi. Following his graduation in 1907, he did post-graduate study at the University of Alabama and at Tulane University. His first ten years of practice at Meridian, Mississippi were accompanied by many honors. He served as president of the Lauderdale County Medical Society and as vice-president of the Mississippi State Medical Association. Attracted by the opportunities afforded by Tulsa, Dr. Pigford came to that city in 1917. He quickly won the personal and professional respect of Tulsa doctors and was readily successful in his private practice. For 27 years, he has remained an outstanding surgeon and civic leader in Tulsa. Dr. Pigford was later joined in practice by two younger brothers, Dr. Russel C. Pigford and Dr. Charles A. Pigford.
Other officers named to serve in 1921 were Dr. T. W. Stallings, vice-president, and the late Dr. R. W. Dunlap, secretarytreasurer. Both were prominent otolaryngologist-opthalmologists.
The Tulsa County Medical Society at that time charged an annual membership fee of $10.00, which included the dues to the Oklahoma State Medical Association. In addition, special assessments were not uncommon. The Society entered 1921 with approximately $650.00 in the Treasury after paying state dues and outstanding bills.
Meetings were held in the Chamber of Commerce quarters, at the YWCA, at the old Oklahoma Hospital, at the Municipal Auditorium and occasionally in a Tulsa hotel. Attendance averaged 35 members, which was distinctly poor for a Society of 141 members. Even so, the average attendance twenty-five years later was roughly at the same level. This circumstance, perhaps peculiar to large societies, seems incapable of remedy.
Aided by a small but enthusiastic group of workers, Dr. Pigford set out on an extensive program of Society activity.
With the First World War but an unpleasant memory, the doctors of Tulsa County continued throughout the postwar period and the era of prosperity that followed with a progressive viewpoint of medicine and public health. The members of the Tulsa County Medical Society exhibited a sharpened interest in scientific study and felt an increased responsibility for public health and civic progress.
Dr. A. W. Pigford, as president of the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1921, stimulated these activities through his own personal enthusiasm. His energetic administration was followed by those of similarly qualified medical leaders. As a result, much was accomplished of a progressive nature. The bulk of Tulsa County doctors at the time were young men, mostly war veterans, who looked to a bright future for Tulsa and Tulsa medicine.
Frauds and quackery continued a major problem, not only for Tulsa but for doctors over the state. A steady stream of victimized patients gave ample evidence of the abundant quackery. Dr. G. A. Wall, long a crusading leader against incompetence and ignorance in medicine, had set a pattern during his administration for fighting the illegitimate or unethical practitioner. The campaign was continued by Dr. Pigford’s administration, and scarcely a meeting passed without some prolonged, often heated, discussion of the subject. Many applicants for membership were rejected at this period because of questionable medical ethics and financial practices. The members of the Society gave wide publicity to the matter and the barrage of criticism was sufficient to eliminate certain undesirable “practitioners” from the local scene. Other cases were referred to the Board of Medical Examiners for failure to comply with the existing laws of medical regulation. The latter, unfortunately, were too lax to be of much value. Too many irregular physicians were permitted to continue their practice of medicine for want of proper legislation to curb their activities.
The so-called “Chiropractic Referendum” was again up for discussion in the state legislature in 1921 and 1922. Efforts of the Oklahoma State Medical Association to stave off a wholesale invasion of chiropractors and osteopaths were not particularly successful. Many component medical societies, including the Tulsa Medical Society, failed to support the state association in its project. One Tulsa doctor, in an address to the Society, demanded that the members “cease fighting for sectarian rights and return to the practice of scientific medicine.” His arguments were supported by vote of the Society members present, and the Oklahoma State Medical Association was notified that Tulsa had withdrawn its support of the legislative activities of the state group. Subsequent events have shown the error of the thinking that prompted this action.
Dr. Pigford’s administration also attacked sanitary conditions existing in hotels, restaurants, drug stores, and rooming houses. The Society laid the blame for these conditions to the Oklahoma State Health Department, protesting that the state agency had prevented local authorities from taking necessary clean-up measures. The matter broke in local newspapers and the pressure of public opinion soon brought better sanitary conditions to public eating and rooming places.
St. Johns Hospital was in the process of building, although progress was somewhat slow. At the meeting of February 14, 1921, the Tulsa County Medical Society gave formal approval to the project and guaranteed the support of the local profession. The Society’s Publicity Committee undertook to publicize the new hospital and many complimentary articles appeared in various Oklahoma publications.
General George W. Goethals, the hero builder of the Panama Canal, came to Tulsa to inspect the city water supply facilities early in the year (1921). The Tulsa County Medical Society was instrumental in bringing the General to Tulsa, although it was feared until the very moment of his arrival that he would not be able to make the trip.
An attempt was made to organize a library for Society members. Dr. Ralph V. Smith, Dr. C. A. Dillon, and C. T. Hendershot were quite active for a time in promoting the project. Dr. Hendershot was appointed custodian of the small amount of available textbooks and medical journals, and they were accumulated in his office. However, a general lack of interest and a lack of organization of the assembled material were responsible for the eventual discontinuation of the project.
The Secretary-Treasurer of the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1921 was the late Dr. Roy W. Dunlap, a leading ophthalmologist-otolaryngologist. His characteristic manner of analyzing the problems of life made him a respected gentleman with a world of good friends. Dr. Dunlap recognized the value of organization among medical men and worked constantly and efficiently over a period of thirty years to improve the welfare of the profession.
The Tulsa County Medical Society had expended $100.00 in the purchase of a mimeograph machine. Dr. Dunlap undertook the publication of a periodic newsletter to the membership. His characteristic good humour often manifested itself in these letters. One wellremembered issue was adorned with certain drawings intended to represent the spirit of St. Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, the erratic mimeograph made them nothing but blobs of black ink. Dr. Dunlap took an entire page to explain the meaning of the blobs, employing a text that gave a hearty laugh to many of his readers.
Dr. Dunlap’s philosophical observations also crop up in the minutes which he kept during his several terms as SecretaryTreasurer. Unabashed at the laxity of a group of leading members in paying the annual dues, he promptly suspended the entire group from membership privileges. They were readmitted to membership (after payment of the dues) with what Dr. Dunlap termed as “great rejoicing and loud hosannahs”. The delivery of any scientific paper by a member was always complimented by Dr. Dunlap’s well-kept minutes as “famous”, “remarkable”, or “unusual”. This was characteristic of Dr. Dunlap and in no way indicated a frivolous attitude towards his work. He was in deadly earnest, and as a result was one of the Tulsa County Medical Society’s best leaders.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association met in annual convention in 1921 at McAlester, Oklahoma, for a three-day session. The Tulsa County Medical Society decided to arrange for a sleeping car to transport the members who attended, but the idea was dropped at the last moment. Tulsa doctors failed of a position on the state slate of officers and only six qualified on the standing committees appointed later. Interest of Tulsa doctors in the state association was not high at that time. Tulsa doctors appearing on the scientific program were Dr. C. A. Dillon, Dr. Ralph V. Smith, and Dr. G. A. Wall.
The membership in 1921 was 150 physicians, with an estimated 25 others not belonging to the Tulsa County Medical Society.
The unfortunate race riot which occurred in Tulsa in June, 1921, brought new problems for the Tulsa doctors. During and immediately after the rioting, the hospitals were crowded with the injured and dying. Many physicians worked without interruption for thirty-six hours without rest. President Pigford called the Tulsa County Medical Society into a special session a week after the event in an effort to arrange for schedules of work to enable Tulsa doctors to care properly for the injured persons. All of the 13 Negro doctors in Tulsa at the time had lost their equipment and household possessions and were unable to care for the injured colored people.
To alleviate this situation, the Tulsa County Medical Society raised a fund to provide each Negro doctor with $25.00 in cash immediately and a series of subsequent payments. This money was for the purposes of assisting the doctor to remain in practice. Few of the colored people were able to pay any fees at the time. There was a huge drop in the employment of colored persons. The areas where the Negroes lived was desolated in certain blocks. Thus the colored doctors were made available to their people. To further assist, the members of the Society contributed a great amount of surgical instruments for distribution to the Negro doctors. Several Tulsa white doctors were employed on a salary basis for several months by various charitable and governmental groups to care for the injured persons.
The Society interested itself in food standards, particularly of food and dairy products. Dr. Ross Grosshart, working with other members, secured the passage of the so-called Milk Ordinance, which set up proper standards of grading for milk and dairy products.
Billy Sunday, the dynamic evangelist, came to Tulsa in 1921 and immediately appealed to the Tulsa County Medical Society for the constant services of a physician at each evangelistic meeting These doctors were to care for persons who became over-wrought with the power of the sermon. The Society members, mostly through curiosity, cooperated. Secretary Dunlap had much to say about this incident when recording his minutes.
Because of the inability to secure a satisfactory meeting place, the Society accepted the offer of Dr. C. J. Woods and Dr. C. C. Knoblock to meet at the Knoblock-Woods Laboratories. The somewhat battered furniture possessed by the Society was sold. The new meeting place was most pleasant, and many excellent programs were presented there.
The combination of Dr. A. W. Pigford as president and Dr. R. W. Dunlap as secretary-treasurer gave the Society a progressive and valuable year. Dr. Charles H. Ball was selected to succeed Dr. Pigford with Dr. C. S. Summers assuming the position of secretary-treasurer. Dr. W. W. Beesley was named vice-president. They entered 1922 with a high degree of enthusiasm among the membership.
The new president of the Tulsa County Medical Society for 1922 was Dr. Charles H. Ball, an ex-newspaperman and cotton merchant whose interest in medicine and surgery eventually overcame the printer’s ink which flowed through his veins. The son of a prominent physician and medical officer with the Union Armies in the Civil War, Dr. Ball was born in Ohio in 1867. He left his home in Illinois at an early age to become a reporter on the Evening journal of Gainesville, Texas. In 1888 he came to Muskogee in Indian Territory and published a newspaper and legal journal for the Choctaw, Creek, Iowa, Seminole, and Chickasaw Indian tribes. As it was printed in these Indian languages, Dr. Ball rapidly became a proficient linguist in the native Indian tongues. Later, he established the first newspaper at El Reno, Oklahoma, where his fearless campaigns against the abundant outlaw gangs won him considerable respect. Dr. Ball made the land rush when the Cherokee and Arapaho lands were opened up, but was later to lose his property in a legal entanglement. He also was the sponsor of the first state fair in Oklahoma. In 1895, Dr. Ball left Oklahoma to become assistant editor of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, a position which he held for ten years. His duties included considerable printing and typesetting. Dr. Ball’s interest in medicine became pronounced at this time and in 1902 he entered St. Louis Medical College, studying by day and supporting himself by working at night as a newspaper printer. After his graduation in 1906, he practiced for a time in St. Louis, later serving as instructor in dermatology at St. Louis Medical College. Dr. Ball came to Tulsa in March 1917, and readily became identified with the activities of organized medicine. He and his wife, the former Mary Elizabeth Campbell, became civic leaders of distinction in Tulsa and many projects were accomplished through their enthusiasm and initiative. This was the type of man whom the doctors of Tulsa County chose to lead them in 1922.
Dr Ball was faced with several problems at the outset of his administration. The Tulsa County Medical Society continued to work for regulation of Tulsa dairies and proper grading of milk and dairy products. Some regulation had been obtained earlier in 1921, primarily through the efforts of Dr. Ross Grosshart, but the need for additional regulation was strongly felt. The opposition of dairymen to this project was natural, but their cooperation was eventually obtained and a series of regulatory ordinances were eventually passed.
The Society was at odds with newly elected city officials in regard to the appointment of the City Superintendent of Health and the City Physician. The mayor and commissioners were reluctant to permit the Society to recommend physicians for these posts. Considerable ill will developed but the adamant officials were not to be influenced.
Attempts to draw the outlines of professional conduct and ethics in more sharp distinctions were difficult. Many Tulsa physicians outside of the Society were guilty of disreputable practices that brought general public condemnation to the profession at large. The Society preferred charges against several such doctors, but the results obtained were not good for want of an effective method of discipline. As an instance, Dr. Ball had investigated reports that many Tulsa drug stores made a practice of recommending certain disreputable physicians. It was a common practice for the physician concerned to repay this favor in some manner. Of course, it was difficult to discipline the offending druggists. A widely publicized case against one such offender did bring some reforms among the druggists themselves.
There was a considerable influx of new members in the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1922, many of whom are among today’s medical leaders in the community. Among these newcomers were Dr. J. C. Peden, Dr. V. K, Allen, Dr. J. C. Braswell, Dr. H. Lee Farris, Dr. Malcolm McKellar, and Dr. J. C. Brogden.
Tulsa ophthalmologists organized the Tulsa Academy of Ophthalmologists in 1922. It had only passing interest and was eventually disbanded. The idea was most commendable, however, and did much to unite the opthalmologists in scientific and social thinking. Tulsa pathologists were also active in similar lines with their interest in the State Serological Association, which came to Tulsa in January, 1922, for an annual two-day convention. Dr. W. Forrest Dutton of Tulsa was a guiding spirit in that struggling organization.
St. Johns Hospital resumed construction in 1922 after work was halted for lack of funds. The old Morningside Hospital at 512 N. Boulder was operating at near capacity and with a large staff. A picture of the staff, made in May of 1923, is preserved in the offices of the Tulsa County Medical Society, and shows a large portion of the Tulsa profession on the entrance steps. After twenty years, it is of great interest. Many leading Tulsa doctors of today are included and their boyish appearance is accentuated by the outmoded clothes which they wear.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association met in Oklahoma City in May, 1922. It was again noted that few Tulsa doctors participated in the program. Dr. McLain Rogers of Clinton was elected president. With the exception of Dr. Fred S. Clinton and Dr. W. Albert Cook, no Tulsa doctors were named to state committees. This was not very representative for a society of 145 members.
Dr. Ball encouraged scientific programs and there was a sharp upswing in the number of papers presented locally. The subjects covered ranged from prostatic cancer to obscure ear conditions. Meeting twice a month, often as many as four papers would be offered. Attendance was normally about 50.
The Society members, ever aware of their responsibilities to each other, gave $1,020.00 for a brain operation on a member suffering from a tumor. It was a commendable gesture of Tulsa physicians and saved the life of a prominent Tulsa doctor.
Office space was at a premium. Many of the Tulsa physicians had returned from the army in 1919 to face an almost hopeless problem of securing necessary space. It was not alleviated in the immediate years that followed and many doctors were forced to practice in drafty, illlighted, and poorly located buildings. The opening of the Atlas Life Building and the Day Building in 1923 helped greatly and there was considerable moving by physicians in that year. One Tulsa doctor the irrepressible Dr. R. W. Dunlap, remarked that any space was likely to be bad because of the large number of fraudulent Abram’s Diagnostic Machines in nearby offices of osteopaths. The machines made so much static racket as to completely ruin the quiet atmosphere necessary for successful medical diagnosis.
Under rules adopted in 1921, the Tulsa County Medical Society began the practice of selecting the president a year in advance. This not only gave him an opportunity to prepare for his duties from observation of the incumbent, but made it possible to plan a program of activity in considerable detail and with the benefit of thorough thinking.
Dr. Roy Wilton Dunlap, who had served so ably as secretary in 1921, was named president-elect in that year to actually serve in 1923. A native Texan, born in 1878, he practiced for several years in Texas after his graduation from the Fort Worth School of Medicine. Locating in Tulsa after World War I, in which he served as a First Lieutenant in the Medical Corps, he took an immediate lead in organizational and professional activities. Elected to serve with him were Dr. B. W. McLean of Jenks, vicepresident, and Dr. Horace T. Price, secretary-treasurer.
Dr. Dunlap carried on the work begun in the two previous administrations. The fight against irregular practitioners lessened somewhat in its fury, but there were redoubled efforts to secure clean-up legislation for the city’s dairies, restaurants, and public restrooms. Dr. Fred S. Clinton headed an energetic legislative committee that investigated features of existing Oklahoma workmen’s compensation legislation.
Working with the Tulsa Public Library, a library committee arranged for a medical section at the Public Library. This, section grew substantially through donations of medical texts. However, it was felt by many members that the lack of specialized medical library facilities was not offset by the advantages of the medical section at the Public Library. Furthermore, there was some objection on the grounds that the medical section was open to the lay public. One member called attention to the fact that the average layman is not capable of interpreting the highly technical language of the professional texts. However, it was a beginning for the medical library of the Tulsa County Medical Society.
Dr. Dunlap made it plain at the outset of his administration that he would lay emphasis on scientific study. He asserted that the Tulsa County Medical Society was not for the purpose of airing personal grievances among the local profession, but an organization for the dissemination of scientific knowledge of medicine and surgery. While he did not ignore other problems and projects, scientific study was the order of the day. Many excellent papers were presented by local and guest out-of-town speakers. Among the more prominent physicians to deliver lectures were Dr. Fred S. Clinton, Dr. Fred Y. Cronk, Dr. T. W. Stallings, Dr. P. N. Charbonnet, Dr. L. C. Presson, Dr. Leon H. Stuart, Dr. D. 0. Smith, and many others.
At the annual meeting of 1922, Tulsa had been honored with the election of Dr. Ralph V. Smith as president-elect of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. Born in Pennsylvania in 1871, Dr. Smith’s father was a pioneer physician of Oklahoma. Following his graduation from Washington University Medical School, Dr. Smith practiced with his father at Guthrie. In 1914 he became a resident of Tulsa and soon acquired a large practice as an orthopedic surgeon. While taking a great interest in local medical affairs, Dr. Smith concentrated on state organizational activities. After his return from France in 1919, where he served as a Major in the Medical Corps, Dr. Smith resumed these interests and was subsequently rewarded with the presidency of the state association.
In further honor of Dr. Smith, the Oklahoma State Medical Association met in Tulsa May 15-17, 1923, for the annual convention and inauguration of officers. Dr. Fred Y. Cronk headed the convention committee which was responsible for a splendid scientific and social program. Mrs. G. A. Wall directed the activities of the Ladies Auxiliary. A large number of Tulsa doctors appeared on the program, in contrast to former conventions, and state physicians discovered some fine medical minds among the Tulsa speakers. Meetings were held in the Municipal Building at Fourth and Cincinnati.
Dr. Smith had a progressive and efficient administration. He brought many Tulsa doctors into the state medical association as active workers.
With the annual convention of the Oklahoma State Medical Association for 1923 a pleasant memory, the doctors of Tulsa County returned to a busy schedule of medical and surgical practice. The late Dr. R. W. Dunlap, serving as president, found much of his time occupied with the affairs of the Tulsa County Medical Society.
In an effort to restrict the use of Tulsa hospitals to reputable medical practitioners, the Tulsa County Medical Society had entered into an agreement with the hospitals whereby none but Society members would be permitted to send patients to the cooperating institutions. A disgruntled non-member, irritated at his exclusion, brought suit against the Society in an attempt to break the agreement. Society attorneys fought the suit on the grounds of high standards of medical practice and public health, and the suit was decided in favor of the Society. The plaintiff was discouraged from further activity when the trial judge informed him that in all subsequent suits, it would be necessary to serve each member of the Society separately. A valuable advantage of organized medicine to public health was thus upheld.
Along the line of improving standards for hospitals and qualifications for staff members, Morningside Hospital qualified for approval by the American College of Surgeons in 1923. It was the first hospital in Eastern Oklahoma to meet the requirements. A staff was organized in that year with a governing committee created for its regulation. This Executive Committee consisted in 1923 of Dr. A. W. Pigford, Dr. A. W. Roth, Dr. W. Albert Cook, Dr. Ralph V. Smith, and Dr. G. A. Wall.
The Tulsa County Medical Society was an interested observer to a private feud between the County Superintendent of Health and the County School Systems over the employment of Christian Scientists as school teachers The Superintendent maintained that such teachers refused to recognize the existence of illness among their pupils, failed to take any measures towards treatment, and thus encouraged the extension of communicable diseases. The dissention perpetrated a public row which did not reflect to the credit of physicians. The Superintendent in question was rewarded with a reduction in salary, which perpetrated further controversy.
The year ended quietly without additional problems arising. Dr, H. T. Nesbitt, Mayo Clinician, made the long trip from Rochester to address the Tulsa County Medical Society. His address was well received by a substantial crowd at the final meeting of the year.
With transportation facilities improving and the automobile becoming more and more reliable for long distance travel, Tulsa County doctors were increasing their travel program. Dr. H. D. Murdock and family toured California and Mexico in an open touring car in the summer of 1923. Dr. W. Albert Cook was another California visitor from Tulsa as Oklahoma delegate to the American Medical Association meeting at San Francisco. Dr. Robert B. Witcher was doing postgraduate medical study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Dr. A. W. Roth summered in Colorado and Dr. H. W. Ford toured the Grand Canyon. Medical meetings in Chicago and St. Louis attracted many Tulsa physicians.
Heading the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1924 was Dr. Arthur V. Emerson, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, who was later to intern at St. Mary’s Hospital, Rochester. Son of an Indiana farmer, Dr. Emerson was born in 1879. His professional degree was obtained in 1902 at the University of Illinois. He practiced in Rochester and later at Perry, Oklahoma, where he had been president of the Noble County Medical Society. Removing to Tulsa in 1913, he became a leading civic figure and an outstanding surgeon and gynecologist.
Dr. Charles H. Haralson was selected as secretary-treasurer. The young ophthalmologist had done most of the work in that post in 1923 due to the illness of Dr. Horace T. Price. The latter was selected as president-elect to serve in 1925. Dr. J. H. Laws, Broken Arrow, was elected vice-president.
Dr. Emerson had a sound administration throughout 1924, and surprisingly enough, enjoyed an unusually good attendance at the scientific meetings. Emphasis was laid on two features: (1) scientific medical study, and (2) legislative activities. At the outset of his year of service, Dr. Emerson had announced his intention of working towards remedy of certain medico-legal situations which existed under the state laws of the day. The first of these was an attempt, eventually successful, to obtain repeal of the oppressive Harrison Narcotic Tax. This was a war measure which taxed narcotics used by the physician in his practice, and as such represented an unfair tax, particularly since the war had been over for a period of five years.
The Legislative Committee was also supporting a controversial measure designed to bring the qualifications of osteopaths and chiropractors under the regulation of the State Board of Medical Examiners. The latter group was headed in 1924 by Dr. Charles D. O’Hern, and had proposed legislation which was finally embodied in the Medical Practice Act and Basic Science Act in later years.
The war on quackery in Tulsa County continued strong, but it was hampered by a lack of funds to secure prosecutions of offenders and by the lack of regulatory legislation. Advertising in hotel lobbies and public places of amusements was also strongly hit. Dr. Charles D. Johnson was named chairman of a special committee of the Tulsa County Medical Society to carry the fight into the courts. He was assisted by Dr. A. W. Pigford, Dr. J. C. Peden, the late Dr. G. Garabedian, Dr. N. W. Mayginnes, Dr. C. H. Ball, and Dr. C. H. Haralson.
The Tulsa doctor who had lost his suit against the Tulsa County Medical society for his exclusion from the hospital staffs again made trouble in 1924. He instigated a libel suit against the Tulsa County Medical Society for a cool half-million dollars. (This, no doubt, was quite a compliment to the Society’s financial standing, especially since the net balance in the treasury at the end of 1923 was $415.84). The plaintiff contended he had been unjustly expelled from membership, denied hospital privileges, publicly condemned for his use of an Abrams diagnostic or “oscilloclast” machine. The latter was true as the machine was known to be an outright fraud. The case was eventually dismissed, and the complaining doctor removed his practice elsewhere. The suit served only to cause much unfortunate publicity, some unjust criticism for a well-meaning medical society, and much expense. As a matter of fact, the costs of fighting the suit required an assessment of $10.00 for each member.
The hospital situation was growing steadily worse in Tulsa. St. John’s Hospital remained uncompleted due to a lack of funds. Morningside Hospital alleviated the condition somewhat by the completion of a 21-room addition, which enabled a minimum of 80 beds to be installed. The new addition was opened in June, 1924, and with the purchase of considerable new equipment became one of the best hospitals in the state. Dr. Emerson appointed Dr. A. Ray Wiley chairman of a special committee to investigate the hospital space situation and make recommendations.
By 1924 the membership had grown to 156, including 21 located in Tulsa County towns outside of Tulsa proper. A large number of these men attended the annual meeting of the Oklahoma State Medical Association at Oklahoma City, which was again marked by a program with few Tulsa doctors as speakers. Dr. P. P. Nesbitt, then of Muskogee, was named to the presidency of the state association to serve in 1925. He was immensely popular with Tulsa doctors, and the local profession was pleased when he later removed to Tulsa.
Dr. Emerson’s administration ended on an unhappy note when internal dissention, relating to the expulsion of two members of the Society, caused much hard feelings. The Tulsa County Medical Society’s attempts to regulate its own members and to secure adherence to a code of medical ethics were naturally fraught with difficulty, but the results obtained were of immeasurable value. The better thinkers among the profession prevailed. There was an eventual solidification of Society spirits. The ethics and regulations of the local profession were definitely determined. They remain today a monument to the few men who took the lead in the fight against medical quackery and questionable ethics.
Scientific study continued paramount and few meetings featured less than three scientific papers. The majority of the speakers were Tulsa men with occasional guests highlighting the programs. Dr. Morris Fishbein of the American Medical Association spoke in Tulsa and elsewhere in Oklahoma in the fall of 1924 and did much to encourage progressive scientific study by organized medical groups.
Serving with Dr. Horace T. Price as president in 1925 were Dr. C. T. Hendershot, vice-president, and Dr. A. Ray Wiley, secretary-treasurer. Dr. Price, a respected general practitioner, was born in 1876. His interest in medicine led to his study and graduation at the St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1912. Though not in the best of health, Dr. Price made an excellent president for the Tulsa County Medical Society and did much to smooth over the hard feelings occasioned by the legal tangles of the year before.
The new administration created a number of new committees and set to work on a program which emphasized scientific study of medicine. There was room for other matters during the year, however. Beginnings towards the establishment of a Physicians malpractice insurance policy were made. Dr. R. W. Dunlap did much work in this direction. The Society was not able to secure a tailor-made policy, as was eventually possible in later years, but it did manage to bring about some modification in rate schedules and coverage. A revision of the antiquated constitution and by-laws was undertaken and much of the excessive verbiage was eliminated. A committee was appointed to help facilitate the completion of St. John’s Hospital. School clinics, designed to improve the health of public school children, were undertaken in cooperation with the Board of Education. The hygienic conditions of the new Spavinaw Water System were investigated by a special committee from the Society. An effort to eliminate osteopaths from participating in the public school systems health departments was instigated. The fight against quackery and irregular medical ethics continued.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association met in Tulsa May 12-14, 1925, at the Mayo Hotel. Dr. R. W. Dunlap was general chairman for the convention with Dr. R. Q. Atchley, Dr. C. T. Hendershot, and C. H. Haralson as associates. The program featured a representative number of Tulsa, speakers. The meeting was saddened by the death of Dr. Charles H. Ball, who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while reading a paper before the section on Dermatology. Dr. P. P. Nesbitt assumed the reins of the state association and gave it a splendid year of progress.
The president of the Tulsa County Medical Society for 1926 was Dr. Clarence S. Summers, a young general practitioner who had won the friendship and respect of the Tulsa profession through his eager enthusiasm for the scientific and economic advancement of medicine. A graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine at Indianapolis, Class of 1918, Dr. Summers had taken considerable interest in Society affairs since settling in Tulsa shortly after World War I. His work as Secretary-Treasurer in 1924 had been followed by his selection as president-elect.
Dr. Summers believed that the primary purpose of a medical organization was the scientific study of medicine, and his year’s work indicated a definite emphasis on this purpose. He did not permit any exclusive business meetings, and even the annual election of officers in December was preceded by an address by Dr. LeRoy D. Long of Oklahoma City. The scientific programs of 1926 covered almost every phase of medicine. The various papers, presented for the most part by Tulsa doctors, featured living case studies. Dr. D. 0. Smith inaugurated the scientific program of the year with his paper on sclerodema. In all, about 30 papers were presented during the year, probably an all-time record for the Society.
Tulsa Medicine was definitely progressing in 1926. St. John’s Hospital, long in construction, was nearing final completion through the proceeds of another drive conducted by Tulsa civic organizations. Some $600,000.00 was raised. The hospital was in partial operation, though, several wings were uncompleted and no facilities for training student nurses had been constructed.
The Old Morningside Hospital, now known as Hillcrest Memorial Hospital, also went into construction in 1926. Financed by Mr. and Mrs. William J. McNulty, veteran Tulsa hospital administrators, it represented another advantageous step for Tulsa medicine. An attractive architectural design featured modern hospital facilities. The old Morningside structure at 521 N. Boulder continued in operation until the new building at 1653 E. 12th opened in February, 1928.
Hospital facilities in Tulsa in 1926 were moderately good. In addition to Morningside’s 72 beds and the 80 of St. John’s, an additional 52 was available at Oklahoma Hospital, 30 at the old Physicians & Surgeon’s Hospital, and 25 at the old Flower Hospital.
The Medical & Dental Arts Building also began construction in 1926. It was the outcome of a serious need for professional space and was enthusiastically received by the Tulsa profession. The building was originally financed and built through the efforts of a private group of Tulsa doctors and dentists. Over 90 per cent of its floor space was sold before it went into construction. The Tulsa County Medical Society strongly supported the project and appointed a liaison committee to work with the builders. This committee was headed by Dr. V. K. Allen and included Dr. H. D. Murdock and the late Dr. Fred Y. Cronk.
The American Medical Association met in Dallas on April 19-23 and many Tulsa doctors were encouraged to attend. Dr. J. N. Jackson who was named president-elect of the AMA that year was wellknown to Tulsa doctors. He later visited the staff of Oklahoma Hospital and a reception was tendered in his honor.
The annual meeting of the Oklahoma State Medical Association in Oklahoma City in June, 1926, was also well attended. Many Tulsa physicians appeared on the program, a contrast to previous programs of the state group. Dr. P. P. Nesbitt, retiring president, stimulated much of this interest as he had moved from Muskogee to Tulsa during the year. Reserve medical officers met in Oklahoma City during the meeting and began a series of such meetings which were to persist until comparatively recent years.
Absent from convention proceedings that year, however, was Dr. N. W. Mayginnes, whose death in May, 1926 saddened the Tulsa profession and his many friends. In failing health for some years, Dr. Mayginnes had been in virtual retirement since 1922. His friend, Dr. G. A. Wall, paid tribute to him in an obituary published in the state journal with sincere words of appreciation for Dr. Mayginnes’ contributions to medicine and public welfare. In December, 1926, Dr. Charles L. Reeder, another early medical leader, passed away. The loss of both of these two fine physicians was keenly felt.
Business matters were at a minimum throughout 1926. Differences with St. John’s Hospital on recognition of authority were quickly ironed out. The war against quackery continued, but was less publicized than in the past. Legislative matters were confined to one or two minor alterations in the constitution and by-laws. A heated protest against the “health” policies of Benarr McFadden, eccentric publisher and health faddist, was made. Apparently, Mr. McFadden was not concerned over his public censure as his activities continued for many years subsequently.
Dr. George R. Osborn assumed office as president of the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1927. The son of an Indiana farmer, Dr. Osborn was born in 1875. He studied at Valparaiso University and later secured his medical degree at the University of Illinois, graduating in 1906. Dr. Osborn practiced at Laporte, Indiana, until the outbreak of World War I in 1917. He entered service shortly after war was declared and after a brief service at Fort Riley, Kansas, was sent overseas. Dr. Osborn spent several months in a Paris military hospital. After peace came, he remained in France to study at the University of Paris for several months. Discharged with the rank of Major in August, 1919, Dr. Osborn came to Tulsa and established a large practice as a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology. He was extremely interested in organized medicine, and this interest later won him offices with the Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Southern Medical Association.
Dr. Osborn’s first project was a fourstate regional meeting of the American College of Surgeons, held in Tulsa in January, 1927. Several hundred doctors were in attendance at this memorable meeting, pictures of which are preserved in the Medical Library. The Tulsa County Medical Society gave a dinner for the visitors at the Mayo Hotel. Dr. Ralph V. Smith was committee chairman for this meeting.
Scientific programs continued to predominate, and Dr. Osborn brought many out-of-town speakers to appear before the Tulsa County Medical Society. Attendance did not noticeably improve, however, and there were seldom more than 50 members present.
The Society also interested itself in crippled children activities. Dr. Wade Sisler had earlier undertaken this work and did much to arouse interest. Some unfortunate and undue criticism in local newspapers was bitterly resented by the Tulsa doctors who were interested in the projects. This attitude of the press was eventually dropped when the value of the work became apparent.
The Oklahoma press also created quite a furore over an alleged shortage of nurses in the state. Tulsa County Medical Society investigators found no such condition locally and reported the nursing situation as very good.
“Dr. Robert Trotsky”, an imposing, professional-appearing person created more excitement when he successfully persuaded several Tulsa doctors to cash worthless checks. His sudden departure was regretted by the affected doctors.
The annual meeting of the Oklahoma State Medical Association at Muskogee was well attended by the doctors of 1927. Many Tulsa doctors appeared on the program to deliver excellent scientific papers.
The interest in scientific study of medicine among Tulsa doctors led to the establishment of the Tulsa Academy of Medicine, a clinical group which remained active for several years. The first meeting of the new organization in March, 1927, saw the election of Dr. Samuel Goodman as president, Dr. D. 0. Smith as vice-president and James Stevenson as secretary-treasurer. Many fine scientific meetings were held.
The administration of Dr. William J. Trainor in 1928 was similar to those of his two predecessors, Dr. Summers and Dr. Osborn. Emphasis continued on scientific study with not less than two papers featuring each meeting. Dr. R. Q. Atchley, who had served several terms as secretary-treasurer, was succeeded that year by Dr. Ralph A. McGill, a popular young surgeon.
The Tulsa County Medical Society was again host to the Oklahoma State Medical Association in May, 1928, with sections and business meetings at the Akdar Temple. Dr. Ralph V. Smith was convention chairman. As the host Society, only a few members were on the program.
The Society transferred its meetings from the Municipal Auditorium to the newly opened Morningside Hospital and the Medical & Dental Arts Building. At the latter, doctors met in basement quarters and later on the twelfth floor, where the Executive Offices of the Tulsa County Medical Society are now housed.
The Tulsa Academy of Medicine made good its promises late in 1928 with a Fall Clinical Society meeting. It was well attended, with most of the speakers from the Crile Clinics. The year was ended on a harmonious note. More and more, the Society was inclined towards scientific study and less towards business and civic interests.
The opening of the Medical and Dental Arts Building at Sixth and Boulder streets, Tulsa, early in 1928 made a tremendous improvement in the practice of medicine by Tulsa physicians and dentists. , It provided a concentration of reputable practitioners in a building especially designed for their needs. The need of such a specialized structure had long been felt by Tulsa doctors and dentists. Medical and dental professional men had not been particularly welcome in other buildings. Large numbers of sick persons tended to slow elevator service, electrical facilities were often inadequate, and in many buildings other technical requirements were sub-standard. As early as 1923, groups of Tulsa doctors began taking options on downtown building sites. In 1925 the Tulsa County Medical Society had attempted to arouse enthusiasm for such a project. Oklahoma City had just opened a similar building, and capitol representatives headed by Dr. J. S. Pine had appeared before the Tulsa men to answer questions and make suggestions for the construction and operation of the proposed building. A sum of $65,000.00 was subscribed by local doctors early in the same year, but attempts to raise the additional amounts necessary to begin construction failed. Dr. H. D. Murdock, Dr. V. K. Allen, and the late Dr. Fred Y. Cronk were among the leaders in this movement.
The construction of the Medical and Dental Arts Building was eventually accomplished through the leadership of a Tulsa dentist, Dr. Charles W. Day, who interested individuals and trust company officials in the project. The building was opened in January, 1928, and Tulsa doctors moved into the new quarters in below zero weather. The building has been at virtual capacity since its opening, and at present space is at a high premium.
The presidency of the Tulsa County Medical Society passed to Dr. Claude T. Hendershot in 1929. A gynecologist of wide repute, Dr. Hendershot was a native of Indiana where his birth had occurred in 1876. The son of a university scientist, he early evidenced an interest in medicine and at the conclusion of his formal education enrolled in the Louisville Medical School, from which he graduated in 1896. While still in medical school, Dr. Hendershot assisted in the formation of the professional medical fraternity, Phi Chi, of which he was a charter member and officer. After his graduation, he interned in a Louisville hospital and then returned to his native Indiana as an industrial surgeon at Cannelton. He rose rapidly in state medical circles and at the time of his removal to Tulsa in 1905 was vice-president of the Indiana State Medical Association. In Tulsa, Dr. Hendershot became an active civic and medical leader. He was organizer of the popular Hoosier Club of Tulsa and became its first president. Prominent in church activities, Dr. Hendershot also was a leader in the development of Tulsa libraries. Prior to his election as president, he served several terms as Secretary-Treasurer of the Tulsa County Medical Society.
Dr. Hendershot’s term of office was primarily a continuation of the previous administrations in general policy and conduct. Scientific meetings continued to be emphasized and only passing attention was given to other matters. Dr. Hendershot was agitating for the reorganization of a medical library. He was also interested in improving standards of postgraduate medical education and operating conditions in hospitals. His interest in maternal welfare was also strongly felt and he did much to encourage studies of this type among Tulsa civic groups. It is unfortunate that the minutes of the years 1929-31 have not been preserved for they offer a more accurate index of Society activity. Meetings continued to be held in the Medical Arts Building, primarily in basement quarters. Occasional social meetings at which the doctors’ wives were guests enlivened the annual program. Dr. Sidney C. Venable was featured on the initial program of the year, delivering an interesting paper on malarial infections. The Tulsa Academy of Medicine opened its year’s program with an address by Dr. Charles Dennie of Kansas City.
The emphasis on scientific study by the Tulsa County Medical Society members was reflected in the unusual number of papers by Tulsa doctors which appeared in the Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. Among these writers were Dr. Samuel Goodman, Dr. James Stevenson, Dr. D. 0. Smith, Dr. A. W. Pigford, Dr. E. K. Witcher, Dr. Ned R. Smith, Dr. R. C. Pigford, Dr. M. B. Lhevine, Dr. S. C. Venable, Dr. H. S. Browne, Dr. Paul R. Brown, and many others. The papers of Tulsa doctors dominated the journal for that year and it seemed as if every member of the Society was preparing case records. The need for a library had seldom been so strongly felt.
Tulsa’s progressive hospitals drew considerable praise in a lengthy editorial published in the April, 1929, issue of the journal. Dr. Wade Sisler’s newly-opened Hospital for Bone and joint Diseases was singled out for special praise.
A forum on asthma in the Spring of 1929, sponsored by the Tulsa County Medical Society, featured the eminent Chicago physicians, Dr. Burton Haseltine and Dr. A. W. LeForge.
At the annual convention of the Oklahoma State Medical Association in Oklahoma City in May, 1929, Dr. C. T. Hendershot was again honored with his inauguration as president of that group. His inaugural address paid respect to the pioneers of medicine in Oklahoma and looked to a bright future for the profession. He began a year in office with many progressive ideas and projects, many of which were eventually placed in operation.
The profession was greatly shocked when Dr. Hendershot died suddenly on September 8, 1929, after an illness of less than twelve hours. An attack of apoplexy wrote finis to a brilliant career and cut short the benefits of his foresight and leadership in medical economics. He was succeeded in office as president of the state group by Dr. Edmund S. Ferguson of Oklahoma City, while Dr. Henry S. Browne completed his term as president of the Tulsa County Medical Society. It was a sad year in other ways too for death also claimed Dr. C. P. Linn, Dr. Horace Price, and Dr. C. Z. Wiley, the latter the father of the popular Dr. A. Ray Wiley and himself a prominent medical and civic leader of Oklahoma.
Dr. Henry S. Browne finished up the year so competently that he was named president-elect of the Tulsa County Medical Society. Since Dr. John F. Gorrell had already been named president for 1930, a year elapsed before he took office. Featured at the year-end was an extension post-graduate course in Surgery and Anatomy, sponsored through the cooperation of the University of Oklahoma and instructed by Dr. John C. Stephenson. Some 19 Tulsa County physicians registered for the course, a very poor percentage when it was considered that some 200 doctors were on the Society roster.
Dr. John F. Gorrell, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 1908, assumed office in January, 1930. A specialist in ophthalmology-otolaryngology, Dr. Gorrell had built up a wide reputation as a competent practitioner since coming to Oklahoma in 1916. Other officers named to serve with him were Dr. W. A. Dean, vice-president, and Dr. Carl F. Simpson, secretary-treasurer.
One of Dr. Gorrell’s earlier programs featured Dr. Fred M. Drennan, professor of gastroenterology at Loyola University, Chicago, who spoke on the management of duodenal ulcers. Programs of this high standard were featured throughout Dr. Gorrell’s administration.
Laboratory facilities were also improved in 1930 with the opening of two new laboratories. Dr. Walter S. Larrabee and Dr. James D. Markland opened the Medical Arts Laboratories, replacing the old Terral Laboratories, and Dr. Leon H. Stuart and Dr. I. A. Nelson opened their x-ray and pathological laboratories in the old Roberts Building.
The annual meeting in Shawnee in May, 1930, saw many Tulsa doctors on the program. There was considerable tribute paid to Dr. Hendershot and his progressive activities in behalf of organized medicine. Tulsa doctors also figured prominently in committee activity, and an especially fine report was rendered by Dr. Wade Sisler’s Crippled Children’s Committee. The House Delegates, under leadership of Dr. A. Ray Wiley and Dr. Paul Grosshart of Tulsa, began discussions which were to later lead to the passage of the much-needed Basic Sciences Act.
Dr. Henry S. Browne resumed office as president in 1931. Born in Louisiana in 1890, the son of a sugar plantation owner, he attended Tulane University following his graduation in 1910 from Louisiana State University. His medical degree was awarded by Tulane four years later. Later he interned in New Orleans and came to Tulsa in 1916. The first Tulsa County doctor to enter service, Dr. Browne remained overseas until 1919, when he was discharged as a Captain in rank. Readily popular with Tulsa doctors, his enthusiasm made him an excellent leader. Dr. J. Fred Bolton was elected vice-president and Dr. Carl F. Simpson continued as Secretary-Treasurer.
The opening of the Oklahoma Hospital and Sanitarium for Nervous Diseases by Dr. Ned R. Smith in 1932 represented another advance for Tulsa medicine. Nervous and mental cases were provided with adequate hospital facilities, so long lacking in the area. This hospital was located at the old Oklahoma hospital structure, formerly operated by Dr. Fred S. Clinton.
Despite the gloom occasioned by increasingly bad economic conditions, the members of the Tulsa County Medical Society entered 1931 under the most favorable circumstances for the successful practice of medicine.
Dr. Charles J. Woods, a prominent Tulsa pathologist, was elected to the presidency of the Tulsa County Medical Society for 1932. Born November 1, 1880, in Ohio, he left farm life to obtain his professional degree at the University of Cincinnati. Following his graduation in 1905, he practiced for several years in Ohio and Georgia. During World War I, Dr. Woods served as a Captain in the Medical Corps at Camp Doniphan, Oklahoma. After the war he removed his practice to the latter state and soon became recognized for his fine clinical laboratories. His activities in organized medicine led to his election to office.
Dr. Woods opened his year of service with a large meeting at Dr. Ned R. Smith’s Oklahoma Hospital on January 11, 1932. The program was devoted to a study of mental conditions with case studies furnished by visiting staff members of the Eastern Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane at Vinita.
Throughout 1932, the Tulsa County Medical Society continued to emphasize the scientific aspects of medicine and some unusually fine programs were presented. Meetings were held in either the St. Johns Hospital, Oklahoma Hospital, or in quarters in the Medical Arts Building. Attendance was moderately good and there appears to have been some excellent discussions of the subjects under consideration.
The Society conducted an investigation into the growing trends towards group practice of medicine, and into insurance plans which reimbursed physicians for services rendered on a flat pay basis. At early meetings during the year attempts were made to outlaw these practices as far as Society members were concerned, but the well-intentioned efforts failed rather miserably. The distinctions were difficult to draw, and perhaps represented only the result of a medical trend rather than any violation of established ethics.
The annual convention of the Oklahoma State Medical Association met in Tulsa on May 24-26, 1932, and a fine program was presented under the supervision of Dr. W. J. Trainor. The organization sought adjustments in charity hospital facilities and in facilities of the Oklahoma University School of Medicine. Studies in cancer control became more pronounced.
Tulsa physicians journeyed to Oklahoma City in the spring of 1932 for a week’s course in postgraduate study instructed by Dr. Erick Ruttin of Vienna. He proved a most popular lecturer.
The Tulsa County Medical Society first began its series of radio programs in 1932 with Dr. R. M. Shepard as speaker for the first series. The programs were devoted to medical subjects and for many years were popular with southwestern radio audiences. Although some 350 programs were presented over a ten-year period, not one of the speaker-doctors had his name announced over the airways.
A Tulsa newspaper made an editorial attack on the local profession in May, 1932, accusing the profession of hypocrisy in its refusal to permit physicians to advertise but at the same time accepting advertising for its own medical journals. The newspaper drew a stinging rebuttal from both local and state organizations of physicians, all censoring the publication for its attitude towards medical ethics.
Although the incident clearly developed from the press’ antagonism at not being able to increase advertising revenues via physicians, it did not do credit to the doctors in the public mind. The matter was not quickly forgotten and the subject long remained a sore spot with both parties.
The latter half of the year proved to be more quiet and less active with the Society concentrating on its scientific programs. Officers for 1933 as elected at the annual business meeting were: President, Dr. Charles H. Haralson; vice-president, Dr. V. K. Allen; secretarytreasurer, Dr. Carl F. Simpson, reelected.
Dr. Charles H. Haralson, a graduate of Emory University in Georgia, was a respected young ophthalmologist whose interest and enthusiasm for the Tulsa County Medical Society gave the organization a well-directioned year. Although believing the function of a medical society should be dominantly scientific in character, he did believe that local societies could do much to improve professional and civic welfare in other respects. During the year his committees conducted projects and investigations on the following subjects: group practice of medicine and the ethics concerned therein, hospitalization insurance, free school health clinics, credit and collection reports and agencies, postgraduate medical study, fraudulent practices, public health, and a variety of other subjects. Dr. Haralson’s administration, through its busy program, first indicated the definite need for an executive office staffed by professional secretaries.
Dr. Haralson’s accomplishments are of special commendation for they were executed in a black year of depression. With business conditions at low ebb, doctors found many non-paying patients in their offices. The total number of patients was also at a low figure as many persons hesitated to call doctors when they were unable to pay. One Tulsa physician remarked that the depression years were partially successful because doctors had plenty of spare time to work on medical society projects.
Dr. Ned R. Smith succeeded Dr. Haralson as president of the Tulsa County Medical Society for 1934. An aggressive and influential leader, Dr. Smith had in a period of six, years since coming to Tulsa risen to the presidency of the Society. He had a tremendous store of energy that was directed into many beneficial channels. Until his death in 1944, he remained a leader in medical activities and in civic progress. Born in Bethany, Missouri, in 1884, Dr. Smith spent many years at the University of Michigan where he acquired five individual degrees, a record unsurpassed in the history of the school. His interest in public health was superseded by the fascination of neurology and psychiatry, and he eventually specialized in the latter field. Coming to Tulsa in 1928 after several years at the Hertzler Clinic in Halstead, Kansas, Dr. Smith soon opened a modern neurological institution in the quarters of the old Oklahoma Hospital. Later, he founded Oakwood Sanitarium near Sand Springs and through his fine systems of treatment built it into a nationally known hospital for mental cases.
Public Health matters came to the forefront early in 1934, undoubtedly due to Dr. Smith’s interest in that field. A committee went to work in January in an effort to raise interest in a compulsory immunization law for Oklahoma. Despite the support of numerous civic and professional groups, this law was never enacted. Dr. Smith prosecuted his project for ten years, only to see it defeated several times. As late as 1943, the proposed law was tabled in the Oklahoma Legislature. Studies into the costs of charity clinics and hospital facilities were also inaugurated and served to advise, city and county health officers in the maintenance of such facilities. Mrs. Mabel Bassett, commissioner of charities and institutions of correction, came to the Tulsa County Medical Society for assistance in similar investigations. It is likely that these studies predicated the eventual opening of the Tulsa County Clinic under auspices of the Tulsa County Medical Society. (Incidentally, Mrs. Bassett had a year earlier in 1933 accused physicians of “trafficking” in he sale of babies, a charge which she was to also make some twelve years later. In both cases, there was almost no evidence to support such conclusions).
The Oklahoma State Medical Association met in Tulsa in 1934, drawing, a comparatively small crowd of state doctors. Dr. A. W. Pigford of Tulsa served as convention chairman. The Tulsa County Medical Society had an attractive booth which displayed to advantage the various scientific projects of the membership.
Dr. Smith’s administration carried forward the work began by Dr. Haralson and others a year earlier. There were a number of studies made of the need for and potential value of a specialized medical collection and credit agency. Dr. M. J. Searle, Dr. P. Q. Atchley, and the late Dr. H. C. Childs were among the leaders in this project. It was four years later, however, before the project materialized as the present Medical Credit Bureau of the Tulsa County Medical society. Dr. Smith encouraged the progress of the Medical Library, which was in operation on a small scale at that time.
Scientific meetings continued to be moderately well attended. In contrast to the present policy, as many as four papers were often presented whereas a single paper now comprises the programs of the Tulsa County Medical Society in most instances. The irrepressible Dr. J. Fred Bolton was evidently perturbed that some members broke the meetings up by playing a marble machine in the assembly room. He made a pointed address on the subject and the machine was shortly afterwards removed.
Dr. R. M. Shepard succeeded Dr. Smith as president in 1935 with Dr. James Stevenson as vice-president. Dr. David V. Hudson began a long term of service as Secretary-Treasurer. The new president was a graduate of the University of Tennessee. His interest in the chest and lungs, and particularly in the treatment of tuberculosis, had won him recognition as a leading specialist in that field. Like Dr. Ned R. Smith, Dr. Shepard had quickly established himself as a leader in civic and professional affairs in Tulsa. He championed public health as a civic duty of the physician. His enthusiasm for the progress of public health has made him a valuable leader in Tulsa through the years.
The team of Dr. Shepard and Dr. Hudson gave the Tulsa County Medical Society an excellent year. From the very outset it was busy with a multiplicity of projects that more than ever demonstrated the need of paid employees to handle the detailed work.
The year of 1935 was an especially profitable one for the Tulsa County Medical Society. The new officers, Dr. R. M. Shepard as president and Dr. David V. Hudson as secretary-treasurer, were both aware of the value of organization in facilitating projects and proposals of medicine and civic merit.
Publication of The Bulletin of the Tulsa County Medical Society began in January, 1935. It had long been a desire of Dr. Hudson to issue a printed publication to represent the Society, and he was quick to put the project into effect with his election as Secretary-Treasurer. Dr. Hudson continued to edit The Bulletin until the employment of an Executive Secretary three years later. The first issues were eight pages and contained such features as an editor’s column, a directory, a calendar of medical events for the month, news items, auxiliary information, and biographical features. Cost of the publication was borne by advertising. Later The Bulletin carried a prepared section of medical features which served to increase the stature of the magazine.
At a special call meeting of the Tulsa County Medical Society, members discussed the organization of the Tulsa County Clinical Society. Designed to facilitate the scientific study of medicine, it received the support of some 92 members present.
An organization meeting was held a week later and Dr. Ned R. Smith was named to serve as president until the first annual meeting on April 29, 1935. At that time a splendid program was presented, highlighted by an informative address by Dr. Morris Fishbein, editor of the journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. James C. Brogden, the guiding light behind the Society, was named as president with Dr. R. C. Pigford as vice-president and Dr. R. Q. Atchley as secretary-treasurer. In addition to its spring meeting, a number of other excellent meetings were held. This organization gave Tulsa additional stature as a medical center and served to greatly improve the facilities for study of medicine by local doctors.
The subject of a plan of prepaid medical care was also considered by the Society in the spring of 1935. It did not meet a favorable reception with the membership despite much work and research on the part of a special committee headed by Dr. Ned R. Smith and including Dr. Ralph A. McGill, Dr. P. P. Nesbitt, Dr. M. J. Searle, and Dr. John E. McDonald. The Oklahoma State Medical Association had been working quietly to bring about the approval of a Basic Sciences Act in the Oklahoma State Legislature. It was a monumental task which required the close cooperation of all state physicians to effect. In Tulsa County, a group of medical leaders headed by br. George R. Osborn, Dr. P. P. Nesbitt, and Dr. David V. Hudson worked incessantly in behalf of the proposed Act. It was successful in passing the legislature during the 1936-37 session after days of stormy debate.
Dr. M. J. Searle headed a committee which laid the original groundwork for a medical credit bureau for the Society. A professional agency was approved as the official bureau for Tulsa County Medical Society members.
Among the other projects of Dr. Shepard’s administration were: plans for the creation of a minimum fee or charity clinic, a school health program, a civic relations program, fraudulent practices, etc.
The Society was meeting at the time on the twelfth floor of the Medical and Dental Arts Building and at the various hospitals. The top floor of the Medical and Dental Arts Building was also being used as a storeroom for the Medical Library. A part-time librarian was hired in 1935 also, marking the first real progress towards a medical library.
The idea of an Executive Secretary had been under consideration with the more progressive members of the Tulsa County Medical Society during 1935, but many members feared the additional expense might not be justified. However, the matter was receiving consideration. The Bulletin, in discussing the suggestion, noted that the society “had been pregnant for a long while and it’s about time for something to happen.” Something did happen very soon.
Scientific study continued excellent and many fine programs were presented at the Tulsa County Medical Society meetings. The membership was well represented at the annual meeting in the spring of 1935 at Oklahoma City.
Dr. Walter S. Larrabee was named as president for 1936, Dr. J. C. Peden as vice-president, and Dr. David V. Hudson was reelected secretary-treasurer. Dr. Larrabee was a popular clinical pathologist, quite interested in medical society affairs and possessed of considerable energy and enthusiasm. His active administration followed in the patterns set by Dr. Shepard and a comprehensive program of activity was of much benefit to the profession.
Dr. Larrabee was faced with considerable work in the campaign to secure passage of the Basic Science Act. At the annual meeting of the Oklahoma State Medical Association in Enid in April, 1936, extensive plans had been laid to acquaint the public and the legislators with the value of the Act. Dr. Larrabee and Dr. George R. Osborn carried these plans into operation in Tulsa County with the assistance of many interested Tulsa physicians.
The question of treatment of charity patients had long puzzled Tulsa County physicians. During Dr. Larrabee’s administration, studies were continued which were to eventually lead to the creation of the Tulsa County Clinic. An investigation into the lay practice of medicine also created considerable interest during the year.
The Tulsa County Medical Society was also giving attention to the project of the Oklahoma State Medical Association of hiring an Executive Secretary to facilitate the work of the state organization. With a similar project being widely discussed by Tulsa County physicians, the latter were anxious to secure some tangible idea of the value of a professional secretary. The state organization eventually brought their project into operation with the hiring of Mr. R. H. Graham, an energetic young man who soon developed into one of the most competent medical secretaries in the United States.
Dr. James Stevenson, an energetic and respected Tulsa dermatologist, assumed the presidency of the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1937. A firm believer in the value of organized medicine, Dr. Stevenson had long foreseen the need and desirability of an executive secretary for the Society. He had been instrumental in the creation of an executive office for the Oklahoma
State Medical Association and was watching the result of that experiment with keen interest. While there were many members of the Tulsa County Medical Society who recognized the advantages of a professional secretary to handle the details of an extensive program, others were unfamiliar with such projects and considered it a needless expense. Dr. Stevenson entered the year faced with the necessity of selling a large portion of the membership on the idea.
Dr. Stevenson had an extensive program to occupy him besides the Executive Secretary project. In addition to a long series of fine scientific programs, the Society undertook many valuable Projects and studies of a medical and civic character. Plans were begun for the creation of a venereal disease clinic in Tulsa under joint auspices of the Society and the Oklahoma State Health Department. This was later accomplished and grew into the present Tulsa Cooperative Clinic, a large institution for treatment of syphilis and gonorrhea. A beginning was also made into the studies for a Society-operated county clinic. The Society assisted that year in the organization of the Women’s Field Army for Control of Cancer. The annual reregistration bill was first introduced for consideration by the medical profession although it was not embodied into law for four years. A study of the decentralization of Oklahoma University Medical School was made.
Early in April, 1937, the Tulsa County Medical Society secured the entire twelfth floor of the Medical Arts Building in Tulsa. Other facilities on the floor at the time were moved elsewhere in the building, and the Society remodeled the floor into a meeting room and library. This paved the way for the maintenance of the Executive Office and at the same time provided an excellent place of meeting for the scientific programs of the Society.
After considerable discussion of the question of an Executive Secretary in the intervening months, the Tulsa County Medical Society brought representatives of the Sedgwick County Medical Society of Wichita, Kansas, to speak at the meeting of October 11, 1937. That organization had an executive office system at the time and was most pleased with the results of the program. Dr. J. F. Gsell and Dr. J. F. Hibbard, with Dr. J. W. Shaw and Mr. Jack Austin, all officers of the Wichita unit, completely sold the Society on the idea of creating an executive office. The plan was formally approved in November, 1937, and a committee sat to work to secure a competent executive secretary.
In November, 1937, the unfortunate sale of a harmful preparation of sulfanilamide resulted in several deaths locally. The Tulsa County Medical Society was called into executive session, a plan was developed to secure prompt removal of the product from druggist shelves, and by quick action further deaths were prevented. The Society was commended for its prompt action in the matter by local newspapers.
Dr. M. J. Searle, a prominent Tulsa pediatrician, fell heir to the presidency of the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1938, and at the same time heir to a rather frightening job of making a successful first-year for the Executive Offices program. With Dr. Roy L. Smith, who began the first of several terms as secretary-treasurer, Dr. Searle began to work the project into shape.
Mr. Lloyd L. Stone, a former newspaperman and public relations director, was employed as Executive Secretary in January, 1938. The new professional secretary assumed all details of operation for the Society, edited The Bulletin, worked out a program of activity for each of some 24 standing and special committees, and served as a public relations director to promote better understanding between the public and the profession. Each of his duties was supervised by an officer or committee chairman, and in this manner much was done to improve the efficiency of the program.
The program was financed by increased membership dues and by funds obtained through sale of advertising in The Bulletin. The financial position of the Society was poor throughout the first few years as much expense was encountered in the equipping of the executive offices and in the development of a workable program of activity.
One of the first tasks was the establishment of The Medical Credit Bureau. This was a self-sustaining credit and collection agency operating on a nonprofit basis for the exclusive use of Tulsa County Medical Society members. The Society had long considered such a project and had instigated several such arrangements with private collection agencies. The latter had not been successful and the opening of the Medical Credit Bureau represented a definite advance. There was a considerable amount of work attendant to the opening of the Bureau. Much of its early success was due to the active committee leadership under the direction of Dr. Paul Grosshart. Until it assumed a position of confidence among the physicians, the Bureau encountered tough sledding. It proved to be a monumental task to operate the Bureau without benefit of previous experience, but the difficulties were quickly overcome. Within two years the Bureau was representing half of the physicians of Tulsa County.
Among the other projects of Dr. Searle’s administration, all made possible through the increased facilities of the Executive Offices, were:
Establishment of an organization among nurses and office assistants to provide a mutual distribution of methods and procedures of model operation of a physician’s office. This Medical and Dental Office Assistant’s Club proved quite popular and has remained an active group since its establishment in 1938.
Resumption of the medical broadcasts under Society auspices.
Creation of a program of fraudulent practices prevention.
Enlargement of the Bulletin and definite improvements in format and content.
Development of a cancer and tuberculosis control program.
Beginnings of a program of malpractice liability insurance tailored to meet the needs of Tulsa doctors.
These and a variety of other smaller projects marked the first year of operation of the Executive Offices of the Tulsa County Medical Society. The membership appeared pleased with the results.
Dr. A. Ray Wiley succeeded to the presidency in 1939, with Dr. Roy L. Smith continuing as secretary-treasurer. Dr. Wiley, a son of the pioneer Dr. C. Z. Wiley, had long been a leading figure in the Society. His interest in community and civic problems further equipped him for his duties as president, and he gave the Tulsa County Medical Society a progressive and definitely advantageous year.
The Society had been working for months in an effort to perfect a master policy of surgeon’s and physician’s liability insurance. The malpractice policies sold by private insurance companies did not meet the needs of the Tulsa doctors and were quite expensive. Under the leadership of Dr. J. C. Brogden and others, an ideal policy was drawn up, providing benefits previously not offered by private companies and at an effective saving of 50 to 60 per cent. The policy was opposed by insurance circles and the state insurance board. These difficulties were eventually overcome and the policy went into effect in April, 1939. Later, it was again beneficially altered, and proved so popular with Tulsa physicians that it was taken over by the Oklahoma State Medical Association as a statewide project. This policy, the present London and Lancashire policy, has provided splendid protection to Oklahoma doctors since its instigation several years ago.
Dr. Wiley found many things to occupy his administration. In addition to the creation of the malpractice insurance policy, the Society assisted in the organization of the venereal disease clinic (which went into operation in the Spring of 1939), had a busy legislative program that included the creation of a non-political health board, the establishment of a physicians service and telephone exchange, continued improvements in the operation of the Medical Credit Bureau, national legislative matters (including the introduction of the original Wagner Act, the first anti-trust suit against the American Medical Association) and the most important of all projects-the creation of the Tulsa County Medical Clinic.
The outstanding accomplishment of Dr. A. Ray Wiley’s administration of 1939 was the opening of the Tulsa County Medical Clinic, a clinic for county indigents financed by public funds and operated under the supervision of the Tulsa County Medical Society. Tulsa doctors had long been displeased with the method of administering curative medicine for county indigent patients, the relatively high costs of the old system, and the lack of proper regulation by a medical agency.
The Tulsa County Medical Society had first broached the idea of a Society-operated county clinic several years earlier, but the Board of County Commissioners had turned a persistently deaf ear to the proposal. With the creation of the Executive Office, facilities were set up to better enable the operation of such a clinic and at the same time to create or formulate public opinion in favor of the proposal. The Society’s special committee on the matter presented such a favorable plan that Tulsa newspapers soon backed the idea. After considerable debate and following months of negotiation, the Board of County Commissioners approved the proposal on August 14, 1939.
The plan of operation, which has remained unchanged, consisted of several basic points:
(1) The Society was to provide the services of its members without charge for regular clinics to care for indigent patients. Each member agreed to donate a certain portion of his time to the Clinic.
(2) The Society was to exert a general supervision over the maintenance of the Clinic.
(3) Administration of the Clinic was placed in the hands of the County Physician, whose selection was to be made by the Board of County Commissioners with the approval of the Tulsa County Medical Society.
(4) All expenses of the Clinic were to be borne by the County.
Through the generosity of Mr. Waite Phillips, prominent Tulsa oil executive, the Society received $6,000.00 to remodel the basement and first floor rear sections of the Tulsa Community Building at 602 S. Cheyenne, Tulsa. Facilities were created to care for upwards of 2,500 patients monthly, including diagnostic rooms, examination rooms, administrative offices, a dispensary, waiting rooms, X-ray and pathological laboratories, and nursing quarters. Altogether, some 20 units were provided.
A regular schedule of daily clinics was set up, enabling physicians to make a maximum use of their individual specialties. Tulsa County indigent patients received the finest medical care available in the County without cost. Facilities were available to them which the average moderately-situated family would not be able to afford from a private doctor. The benefit was mutual, however, as physicians were enabled to conduct clinical studies.
The formal opening occurred Wednesday, November 14, 1939, at which time several hundred persons inspected the Clinic and its facilities. During the first month some 1,500 patients were seen. Costs of operating and maintaining a charity medical service dropped sharply, and it is estimated that the annual net savings to the taxpayer has ranged from $30,000.00 to $50,000.00. In later years, the Tulsa County Clinic underwent some unfortunate publicity as a result of certain political disturbances, but these were eventually overcome. Since 1941 it has operated efficiently and with a minimum of political interference. The Clinic has proven itself in the public eye and will probably remain a permanent fixture in the public health facilities of Tulsa County.
Dr. Russell C. Pigford assumed the presidency of the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1940. A brother of an earlier president, Dr. A. W. Pigford, he had won considerable reputation as a competent internist and was personally quite popular with Tulsa physicians. He inaugurated the year with a special meeting and banquet featuring an address by Dr. Morris Fishbein, editor of the journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Pigford had a busy year ahead of him. Tulsa was entertaining the Oklahoma State Medical Association at the annual convention of May 6-8, and the bulk of the organizational details fell to members of the local Society. In addition, the Society was busy assisting in the organization of Group Hospital Service of Oklahoma, a unit of the Blue Cross Plan of hospital insurance. The Executive Secretary had encouraged the Society to sponsor a commercial health exhibit known as “The Hall of Health” during the spring convention of the state association. A postgraduate course in pediatrics was scheduled for the late winter and early spring months. Routine features of the annual program of activity, such as the operation of the county clinic, publication of the Bulletin, regular scientific meetings, maintenance of the Medical Library, operation of special committees, and the Medical Credit Bureau rounded out a full year for the officers and employees.
Group Hospital Service of Oklahoma began operation in April, 1940, after many months of perfecting organizational details. As early as 1937, The Society had sought the creation of a Blue Cross unit in Oklahoma and had worked consistently to attain that objective. Later, the Tulsa County Medical Society was joined by the Oklahoma State Medical Association in bringing the preliminary plans to a successful climax. Group Hospital Service was opposed in many quarters, including many physicians who were doubtful of its public benefits. Strong opposition arose in Oklahoma City and the project was finally consummated by a small group of Tulsa physicians who believed in the merit of the plan. After a few doubtful months on a slender budget, Group Hospital Service began to grow rapidly. So successful was its operation that a constant expansion of facilities and personnel was required. It quickly gained the confidence of the doubters and enjoyed a strong support from the medical profession throughout the state. From its initial sales in Tulsa County, Group Hospital Service expanded into many Other areas and is today virtually statewide. Much of its success is due to the sound advice of a board of directors predominately physicians, and to the efforts of its executive directors, Mr. W. R. McBee, and later, Mr. N. D. Helland.
The Hall of Health, conducted May 7 to May 12, 1940, at the Tulsa Coliseum under sponsorship of the Tulsa County Medical Society, was an unusual project of merit. Some 26,000 persons attended the extensive displays of medical progress exhibited there, and it was perhaps one of the most unique expositions ever conducted in Tulsa. It represented weeks of hard work on the part of Tulsa County Medical Society members and employees. While tremendously successful as an educational feature, its unforeseen expense plunged the Society into a bankrupt condition from which it did not readily recover.
Dr. James C. Brogden, a veteran worker in Society affairs, was named president of the Tulsa County Medical Society for 1941. Dr. Roy L. Smith, who had continued as secretary-treasurer it, 1940, was again reelected to office.
Dr. Brogden brought about several beneficial changes in the physicians’ malpractice insurance policy sponsored by the Society. He had been instrumental in creating the original policy, and when certain new legislation forced the underwriters to withdraw from participation, secured many new additional benefits under a revised policy issued by the London and Lancashire policy.
The Medical Library came into its own in 1941 also with the employment of a full-time librarian.
Dr. Brogden was tremendously interested and enthused over the progress of the Medical Library.
The addition of a well-rounded public relations program to the Society’s regular schedule of work gave Dr. Brogden and his committees a busy year. The ominous growth of war clouds created some unrest among the profession and beginning in the spring of 1941 Tulsa County physicians began to leave their practice to enter the armed forces. The shocking attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was to bring many changes to the Tulsa County Medical Society and its members.
Dr. H. B. Stewart, a nationally known Tulsa anesthetist, guided the Tulsa County Medical Society as president through the first war year of 1942. He faced a multitude of problems, most of which arose from the unsettled and complex economic and social conditions occasioned by the conflict. With his characteristic energy and directness, however, he prosecuted a valuable program of activity throughout the year.
Dr. Roy L. Smith was elevated to the vice-presidency (later succeeded by Dr. Ian MacKenzie when he entered service), and Dr. E. 0. Johnson began the first of several terms as secretary-treasurer. Mr. Jack Spears, a young Chamber of Commerce official, was named to succeed Mr. Lloyd L. Stone as executive secretary, the latter having entered the private practice of law.
The immediate call for doctors in the armed services was quickly answered by the members of the Tulsa County Medical Society. The younger men were rapidly accepted into both branches of the service although the greater demand for doctors in the army, plus the less stringent physical requirements, channeled most into the army medical units. In later years, the acquisition of Pacific bases and the greatly expanded American fleet created heavy demands for Navy doctors and most physicians commissioned since January, 1944, have entered the Navy.
Not including those interns and medical students who entered service from this area, Tulsa furnished altogether a total of 55 doctors from resident civilian practice. This represented about 35 per cent of the total number of physicians in active practice in the county in 1941. Of this number, all but two were members of the Tulsa County Medical Society and all were commissioned with the exception of one. In the latter case, the doctor concerned was eventually commissioned after entering the army as a private. Two of these service doctors-Dr. Horace H. Porter and Dr. Charles A. Pigford-have already been discharged from the service and are now back in practice in Tulsa. Two-Dr. Jack 0. Akins and Dr. Logan A. Spann were injured in enemy action.
Dr. Akins lost his right leg as a result of machine-gun fire at the Salerno landings. Dr. Spann was slightly wounded in a heroic action in the Guam landing (see June, 1945, issue of The Bulletin). One woman physician, Dr. Luvern Hays, is now in service. All but seventeen of those in service have seen some form of overseas service. A number have been decorated for bravery and gallantry under fire. A commendable record of which every Tulsa County doctor is justly proud.
The loss of a good percentage of civilian practitioners placed a heavy burden on the remaining doctors. The population was rapidly swollen by the local Douglas Aircraft Corporation and by other military and defense installations in Tulsa employing large numbers of workers. Increased availability of funds for medical purposes also prompted a greater degree of medical care. The result was long hours for the Tulsa doctors. The penalty proved severe in physical strain and the loss of a number of physicians-among them the beloved Dr. R. W. Dunlap, Dr. J. Fred Bolton, Dr. Ned R. Smith, Dr. Fred Y. Cronk, and many others-was keenly felt.
The new president set up many new special committees and services within the Society to handle the problems created by wartime measures. The difficult task of supervising the Procurement and Assignment Service relationships in the county was handled competently by an impartial five-man committee headed by Dr. James L. Miner and, later, Dr. Henry S. Browne. Rationing details took much time in the Executive Offices but doctors were repaid in time saving for busy practices. Civic problems were also a large part of the Society’s program and under the leadership of the late Dr. Ned R. Smith and Dr. A. Ray Wiley, much of value was accomplished. Despite wartime hardships, the annual convention of the Oklahoma State Medical Association for 1942 was one of the largest and finest meetings in the history of the group. Staged at the Tulsa Coliseum, much of its success was due to the efforts of a competent local committee headed by Dr. R.C. Pigford and Dr. E. Rankin Denny.
Dr. Stewart concluded a harmonious year with an excellent annual report. The Society’s depleted finances had been restored through careful economies and for the first time in several years a surplus was on hand at the year’s end.
The tremendously popular Dr. James C. Peden, a general practitioner, followed Dr. Stewart in office. He continued the policies of his predecessors and added to the Society’s prestige and harmony by governing its affairs with complete fairness and respect.
Under his leadership, the Society led a fight to gain use of the Annual Registration Fund to fight fraudulent practitioners in Tulsa. Though this measure failed, it did serve to inaugurate a strong campaign against medical frauds in Tulsa. The war-related services of the Society continued to grow and many special committees handled various problems as they arose.
Dr. Ralph A. McGill, a well-liked Tulsa surgeon prominent in civic affairs, followed Dr. Peden in office as president for 1944. A supporter of organized medicine and a believer in professional participation in public affairs, he inaugurated many projects of considerable merit. Most outstanding of his accomplishments was the construction and prosecution of an alternate plan of prepaid surgical and obstetrical care insurance which was eventually accepted by the Oklahoma State Medical Association and incorporated into the present Oklahoma Physicians Service. It was this plan which broke a deadlock in the House of Delegates over the type of plan to be employed.
In cooperation with other civic groups, Dr. McGill led a fight to secure a consolidated public health system in Tulsa County. Though this much-needed move failed because of political considerations, it did serve to get the project firmly fixed in the public mind. Its eventual creation seems certain and necessary.
Dr. James Stevenson, who had served the Society as president in 1937, was honored with the presidency of the Oklahoma State Medical Association for 194344. He did a splendid job and his office served to bring the Tulsa profession in closer contact with the activities of the state group.
This history of the Tulsa County Medical Society closes with Dr. McGill’s administration. Dr. H. A. Ruprecht, Tulsa internist, is now serving as president. He is doing an excellent job directing a full program of work and his annual report will be a creditable account.
The Tulsa County Medical Society now occupies the entire twelfth floor of the Medical Arts Building in Tulsa. Here are located the executive offices, the Medical Credit Bureau, and the Medical Library. A separate article printed recently in The Bulletin has recounted the history of the Medical Library and those details will not be repeated here. Sufficient to say, the Medical Library represents a foremost accomplishment of the Tulsa County Medical Society. It has grown steadily through the years, and is now one of the largest private medical libraries in the Southwest, its value is assessed at many thousands of dollars. In January, 1945, the quarters were remodeled to provide for a much-needed expansion of the library facilities.
The Society continues to direct the Tulsa County Clinic with the membership contributing its services without cost to the county. The Bulletin reaches 1,000 physicians each month. The Medical Credit Bureau operates efficiently as a specialized medical collection and credit service on a cost basis. A splendid program of civic and public relations is conducted each year. The annual conventions of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and postgraduate schools of medical study are jointly sponsored by the Society. Regular monthly scientific medical program feature prominent medical leaders. A variety of personal services designed to assist the physician complete the Society’s well-rounded program.
With the return of the energetic young physicians from the war, the Tulsa County Medical Society looks forward to greater accomplishments in the future years of peace yet to come.