Emory Report

March 16, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 24

Crawford Long, in its 90th year,
has big celebration plans

Crawford Long will commemorate its 90th birthday in October. For the past several months the hospital has been quietly noting the impending anniversary in the pages of its employee newsletter, Connections. Crawford Long Public Relations Coordinator Rashel Stephenson is busily planning now for October's celebration.

Crawford Long's history was chonicled in the 1987 book, 75 Years Between the Peachtrees, by Lois Clendenen with Nancy Yarn, a longtime Crawford Long employee. Their book shows that even before co-founder Luther Fischer deeded the hospital to Emory in 1940, the fates of the two institutions were inextricably bound to one another and to a growing Atlanta.

Crawford Long Hospital opened its doors as the 85-bed Davis-Fischer Sanatorium on Oct. 21, 1908. Along with its two founding physicians, the sanatorium enjoyed much success in its first year and by the next a new hospital was being constructed on Linden Avenue, around which the present hospital grew.

Edward Davis, the elder of the two founders, had taught Fischer at the Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons-the precursor to Emory's School of Medicine. Davis was known as a physician eager to keep up with medical advances. He was one of the first to routinely wear rubber gloves in the operating room, a tool many of his contemporaries found cumbersome and unwieldy for complicated surgeries.

During World War I, Davis-by now a professor at Emory's medical school-was commissioned a lieutenant colonel and asked to organize an Atlanta medical unit. Consisting of 35 physicians, 100 nurses and 153 enlisted men, the unit-Base Hospital #43, as it was called-and its commander are commemorated in the Emory Hall of Fame.

Never quite healthy after his army duty, Davis retired in 1929 and died in 1931 at the age of 64. Fischer, who was only six years younger than his partner and friend, lived a great deal longer and continued to influence the practice of medicine at Crawford Long and in Atlanta into the 1950s.

Unlike Davis, the son of a doctor, Fischer worked at The Coca-Cola Company to earn his medical school tuition. He traveled from state to state selling Coca-Cola syrup for the newly founded company and earned his medical degree in 1899. After postgraduate work in Europe, he returned to Atlanta and married Lucy Hurt, the daughter of doctor C. D. Hurt and the niece of noted Atlantan Joel Hurt. Lucy Hurt was a descendent of Crawford Long, the hospital's namesake and the Georgia doctor who discovered anesthesia.

Then, as now, Crawford Long Hospital had a strong commitment to maternal health. In the early 1940s Fischer started construction on the Emily Winship Woodruff Maternity Center. He focused on reducing the risks of childbirth by initiating programs in prenatal maternal health. "Statistics show that 16,000 women lost their lives in childbirth last year," Fischer said at the center's 1942 dedication. "By means of medical examination, prenatal care and the education of expectant mothers, this high mortality rate can be materially lowered, and it is the purpose of this center to dispense such vital services to those women who otherwise might not be able to obtain them."

His idea worked so well that by 1943 the hospital was celebrating 2,126 consecutive births without the loss of a mother's life.

Crawford Long is the site of many firsts having to do with babies and mothers. In 1939 the first triplets in the United States to survive Caesarian section were born at the hospital. The Allen triplets survived the operation, but their mother didn't. The two boys and little girl lived in the hospital until they were 20 months old, and their father later married one of the Crawford Long nurses who cared for them. In 1947 the hospital opened the Southeast's first nursery for premature babies.

The 200 millionth American was born at Crawford Long on Nov. 10, 1967. Robert Ken Woo Jr. was featured in a five-page Life magazine spread and congratulated by President Lyndon Johnson. He made headlines again as Georgia's 1985 STAR student and Presidential Scholar, this time congratulated by President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan.

And President Jimmy Carter's first granddaughter and third grandchild, Sarah Rosemary Carter, was born at Crawford Long on Dec. 19, 1978. Soon after, her grandfather and grandmother rode in a presidential motorcade from Dobbins Air Force Base to visit her.

Today the hospital treats some of the sickest babies in the state in a Level III neonatal intensive care unit. Its developmentally supportive care program has helped the hospital lead the state and nation in survival rates for premature infants. For those who want children but have difficulty conceiving, Crawford Long is the nucleus of Emory's in vitro fertilization clinic and other fertility programs.

Fischer, who died in 1953, set the groundwork for these programs as well as Crawford Long and Emory hospital's highly regarded programs in treating heart disease .

-Stacey Jones

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