Arthur H. Aufses, Jr. MD Archives Blog

Dazian Who? A “Familiar Names” Mystery, Part 1 

Flyer with sketch of 16-story building with text that reads: "The New Beth Israel Hospital, 16 Stories, 500 Beds, Block Front, Livingston Place, 16th-17th Streets, the Tallest Hospital Building in the World"
Sketch of Dazian Pavilion exterior, circa 1929. At the time it was built, Beth Israel believed it to be “the tallest hospital building in the world.” (The final building only stood at thirteen stories.)

In our “Familiar Names: A ‘Who’s Who’ of Beth Israel Buildings” post, you may have noticed that one building is conspicuously absent: the Dazian building. Dazian, the original building on the Petrie campus, was simply referred to as the Beth Israel Hospital for the first part of its history, given that it was the only Beth Israel Hospital building at the time it was opened (to much acclaim) in 1929. During the 1950s and 1960s, the hospital went through a building boom, likely necessitating building names, and campus maps show that the Dazian Pavilion was labeled as such by 1963. But who was Dazian? You might think Beth Israel’s institutional records would hold a clue, but, after receiving several requests to provide the backstory, a few of archivists at the Aufses Archives had approached this research from different angles, and never turned up anything directly mentioning the building’s naming. Sometimes the answers to seemingly straightforward questions are simply not well documented. 

We strongly suspected that the building was named for Henry Dazian, a famed Broadway costumer from a prominent family. Henry Dazian was the third generation of his family to own the costuming business and had a history of philanthropy. He served as a trustee for the Actors’ Fund, which was established in 1882 to provide for the burial, retirement, and healthcare needs of those working in the theatrical professions, who were often denied access to services and charities during this period. He also donated to Beth Israel during his lifetime, particularly (and perhaps fittingly) in 1929 when the institution was fundraising to eliminate its debt following the construction of the building that would eventually carry the Dazian name some thirty years later. 

Upon his death in 1937, his estate created the Dazian Foundation for Medical Research. The Beth Israel annual reports indicate that the Foundation was an active donor throughout the 1950s. That said, there was no obvious indication in the records to confirm that the Dazian Foundation is the source of the name.  

We were hoping that the Henry Dazian Estate and Dazian Foundation for Medical Research records would hold clues for solving this mystery. In addition to its Beth Israel connection, the Foundation also worked with Mount Sinai doctors by, among other things, funding scholarships for refugee physicians during World War II. The collection was seeing increased interest from researchers, but it remained largely inaccessible because it was not completely processed. Processing became a priority, and when Tim Hayes, Levy Library Circulation Services Supervisor, joined the Archives for an internship, we were grateful that this collection received renewed attention. He processed this collection, which spans more than fourteen document boxes, and was able to keep an eye out for answers to some of our Dazian-related questions as he reviewed the material. Stay tuned for our next blog post, where Tim takes us on a deep dive of his research into this question. 

CELEBRATING OUR NURSES

This year, Nurses’ Week is May 6th through 12th, and the theme is “Nurses Make the Difference.” To recognize the invaluable contributions of nurses, here’s a brief overview of the evolution of nurses’ responsibilities and education.

In the early days of American nursing, nurses simply observed changes in the patient’s condition and reported to the attending physician. They were taught to change bandages, and feed and clean patients and were in charge over the ward. At this point, any woman could take the job and at times, some unsavory characters filled the position. There was no formal training or educational system in place.

Women’s Ward, St. Luke’s Hospital

By the mid-1800s, nurses were entrusted with taking vitals, preparing nourishing meals to meet specific patients needs, and administering medications on the instructions of the physicians. They also began to assist in operating theaters.

Roosevelt Hospital Private Pavilion serving pantry

Dr. Robert Abbe and staff in the operating room.

As medical and scientific breakthroughs were made, nursing benefited from better instruction on the ward, supplemented with weekly class lectures by medical staff. By the 1870s the first American nursing school opened. Instruction started on the wards, and the students covered the wards for the first few years.

The first of the Mount Sinai Health System Hospitals schools, The Mount Sinai Training School for Nurses, opened in 1881. Its history is chronicled in the book The Forty-Seven Hundred. The former St. Luke’s Hospital Training School for Nurses, now Mount Sinai Morningside, opened in 1888 and in 1896 the former Roosevelt Hospital, now Mount Sinai West, opened their training school. Read some of that history here. Lastly, The Beth Israel Hospital School of Nursing, now Mount Sinai Phillips School of Nursing, opened in 1902.

Roosevelt Hospital nursing instruction on ward by Alfred Eisenstaedt – The LIFE Picture Collection, Getty Images

As scientific break throughs were made, nursing benefited from better instruction on the ward, with weekly lectures by medical staff.

An example of the early curriculum for nurses, taken from the Roosevelt Hospital School for Nursing, included monthly focus on aspects of anatomy, physiology, materials medica (the sources, nature, properties, and preparation of drugs), gynecology, digestion, ophthalmology and otology, the practice of medicine, the ethics of private nursing, massage, nutrition and cooking, and surgery, including surgical diseases and emergencies. Over time, the curriculum expanded and as graduate nurses were hired to cover the floors, student nurses began to move from ward duty to attend classes full time.

Nursing students in class

By the 1960s, nursing associations were pressing for university-based bachelor degree programs for RNs, as opposed to hospital-based certificate programs. This was accomplished by the early 1970s as financial struggles added to the pressure to close hospital-based schools.

Today we honor our highly educated nursing staff, the back bone of health care.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Aufses Archives would like to highlight one of the outstanding physicians who practiced at the former St. Luke’s Hospital.  

Virginia Kanick (1925-2017) was a radiologist at a time when a small percentage of physicians were women and fewer practiced in that particular area. She was born in Pennsylvania, but when she was about fourteen, the family moved to Richmond, Virginia to be closer to her older brother, who was already practicing medicine there. Kanick, however, never did become a ‘southern belle;’ she described herself as having an “aggressive” personality and loved to learn. She was the high school valedictorian and chose to return north to pursue college at Barnard College, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest, and most prestigious, academic honor society in the United States. 

Left: Dr. Virginia Kanick reviewing X-rays in 1971

At Barnard, she investigated many subject specialties, from anthropology to classical studies, archaeology to Russian history, before settling into science classes with the intention to pursue medicine. She earned her MD from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1951 and then interned at Case Western Reserve. She applied to a radiology residency program at Columbia, but their fall semester quota was full. Accepted into the program starting in January, the administrators suggested she spend a few months at St. Luke’s Hospital, an affiliated teaching hospital, before joining the Columbia program. However, she enjoyed the atmosphere and comradery of St. Luke’s so much that she completed the radiology residency there before receiving an appointment as an attending and spending her career at St. Luke’s. 

Dr. Kanick was an enthusiastic teacher, especially when new equipment and technology was involved. She published over thirty articles in peer-reviewed journals. She became the first woman president of the St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center’s Medical Board in 1980-1981 and in fact, as far as she knew, she was the first president of the Medical Board who was not a surgeon or internist, and quite possibly, the first woman to be the president of a medical board in a major teaching hospital. She was very involved in the broader professional community by serving on the board of directors of the Medical Society of the State of New York, as the secretary and officer of the Medical Society of the County of New York, and as Director of the New York State Radiology Society, among a long list of other service commitments. 

(Picture right, Medical Board meeting, r-l, Drs. Kanick, Beekman, Knox and unidentified.)

However, she felt that the most important role she was involved in was working on several committees for the Radiological Society of North America, and particularly, for serving as their representative to the Advisory Committee for Medical Devices at the Food and Drug Administration, reviewing new technologies including MRI, CT, and PET scans, for seven years. 

Dr. Kanick circa 1989

However, Dr. Kanick was not all work and no play. Though she never married, she was the beloved “auntie” to her much older siblings’ four children, hosting them on vacations here and aboard. As they grew up and married, Kanick enjoyed their 11 grandnieces and nephews and 19 great-grandnieces and nephews. Upon her retirement in 1989, one of her St. Luke’s colleagues remarked, “In spite of her busy schedule, she has made it her business to know of our personal joys and to genuinely join us in celebrating, or giving us support, advice and true empathy in times of suffering.” 

Virginia Kanick fell victim to Alzheimer’s disease and passed away in 2017. She is fondly remembered by hospital staff and the many residents who trained under her guidance. 

Left: Dr. Kanick fellow volunteer, Michele Feldman, circa 2016

To learn more about Dr. Kanick’s life, in her own words, watch her interview with Dr. Norma Braun. here.

Authored by Michala Biondi

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Sources: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phi_Beta_Kappa

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/nytimes/name/virginia-kanick-obituary?id=17515620

https://archives.mssm.edu/aa155-int178

https://www.library-archives.cumc.columbia.edu/obit/kanick-virgina

Familiar Names: A “Who’s Who” of Beth Israel Buildings 

Reflecting on Beth Israel’s rich history, we want to honor the many namesakes of the 16th Street campus. This post provides brief biographies of some of the men and women whose contributions to Beth Israel’s legacy are more than name deep.  

Charles H. Silver was a career public servant, including a term as the President of the New York City Board of Education. He joined the Beth Israel Board of Trustees in 1938 and was its President starting in 1947. He was also active in Jewish-Christian interfaith matters and was a staunch supporter of the Phillips School of Nursing. A highly influential man, the Archives has photographs of Charles Silver with leaders ranging from Vice President Alben Barkley (Truman administration) to Pope John Paul to the discoverer of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming. In 1952, the ground was broken for the Charles H. Silver Clinic at Beth Israel Hospital, named in his honor. We have several blog posts dedicated to his legacy, and his New York Times obituary provides a more complete biography. 

Harold and Minnie Fierman stand between two Phillips School of Nursing Students carrying clothes and a teddy bear in front of Fierman Hall
Photograph of Harold and Minnie Fierman with Phillips School of Nursing students on move-in day, late 1960s

Fierman Hall, initially opened in 1960 as housing for Phillips School of Nursing students, is named for Harold and Minnie Fierman. Harold Fierman was a long-time Beth Israel Board member, beginning in 1954 to at least 1979. He was a corporate lawyer and served as Board of Trustees Treasurer. The Archives has a number of photographs of Harold and Minnie Fierman in our catalog.  

The Linsky Pavilion is named for Belle and Jack Linsky. Belle Linsky was a Beth Israel Hospital Board of Trustees member, and her husband, Jack Linsky, was the founder of Swingline Staples. The couple was also known for their high-profile art collection, which was eventually donated to the Metropolitan Museum. The Archives catalog has a number of digitized materials about the Linsky Pavilion, which, described as an “ultramodern” and an “unusual circular building” first opened in 1966 and greatly increased Beth Israel’s number of beds. 

The Karpas Pavilion, opened in 1966 as a patient care unit, was named for Irving D. Karpas. A childhood friend of Charles Silver, he was a clothing manufacturer and stockbroker. He joined the Beth Israel Hospital Board of Trustees in 1938 and remained on until his death in 1971. His New York Times obituary provides a more complete biography, and photographs of the Karpas Pavilion are online here.  

Baird Hall initially opened in 1967 as “a 20-story, 144-unit staff apartment house.” It was named for David G. Baird, who was a stockbroker and philanthropist. His New York Times obituary is available here.  

Finally, the 16th Street campus was named for Milton and Carroll Petrie in 1992 due to their more than $21 million in contributions to Beth Israel (according to the 1991 Annual Report) and included the largest single gift ($10 million) to Beth Israel at its time in 1986. Milton J. Petrie was a clothes retailer and Beth Israel Board of Trustees member. The Archives has digitized and undigitized materials about Petrie online here.

Authored by Stefana Breitwieser, Digital Archivist

New Exhibit: At the Heart of It All

How did Mount Sinai become a global leader in cardiovascular care and research?

While we can cite many firsts, such as the first use of an electrocardiograph machine in the United States at The Mount Sinai Hospital in 1909, generations of our pioneering health care professionals have played pivotal roles in advancing our knowledge of cardiovascular disease, leading to the development of life-saving interventions and treatments.

In October 2023, Mount Sinai Heart was renamed Mount Sinai Fuster Heart Hospital, in honor of Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, who is its President and the Physician-in-Chief of The Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Fuster has led our progress in cardiology for 41 years, and his commitment to education, research, and discovery has influenced cardiovascular care worldwide. In recognition, The Arthur H. Aufses, Jr., MD Archives staff has researched and assembled an exhibit in the Annenberg lobby showcasing some of Mount Sinai’s historic contributions that revolutionized the way we understand and treat heart conditions. The below all pertain to the Mount Sinai Hospital.


1909

First electrocardiograph machine acquired for use at Mount Sinai Hospital by Alfred Cohn, a pupil of Sir Thomas Lewis. This is cited as the first use of an EKG machine in United States. Specialty of cardiology begins to develop at MSH, and by 1927, 13,000 EKGs had been performed here.

1915

The Mount Sinai Hospital established one of the first electrocardiography departments in the country under the direction of Dr. Bernard S. Oppenheimer. Doctors previously had only learned the techniques while training in Europe. The hospital’s wards were wired for connection to EKG. In 1917, Dr. Oppenheimer was awarded an American Medical Association gold medal for an exhibit on electrocardiographic changes associated with myocardial infarction (heart attack).

One of Mount Sinai’s giants was Dr. Emanuel Libman. His skills as an internist were renowned— Albert Einstein said he had ‘‘secret-divining eyes.’’ Dr. Libman started as an intern at Mount Sinai Hospital from 1894-1896 and then studied bacteriology and pathology in renowned clinics in Berlin, Vienna, and Munich. In 1897, he published his description of Streptococcus enteritis (later named Streptococcus Libman), which causes focal infection of the intestine. In 1904, Libman, using a gift from Trustee Adolf Lewisohn to build a laboratory building at Mount Sinai Hospital, established a separate department of bacteriology and serology. He went on to study meningococci, streptococci, and Bacillus pyocyaneus, known today as pseudomonas aeruginosa, and became an outstanding bacteriologist. His use of blood cultures to diagnose disease was another major contribution. His seminal work, published in 1910, dealt with the pathogenesis of subacute bacterial endocarditis, which he elucidated through bacteriologic, pathologic, and clinical studies. He introduced the terms “acute” and “subacute” and called attention to the color of the skin and many other clinical features of bacterial endocarditis. In 1924, along with his student, Dr. Benjamin Sacks, Libman first described Libman-Sacks endocarditis (LSE). Widely venerated for his teaching and introduction of clinical conferences in 1905 (known today at Grand Rounds), he worked at Mount Sinai from 1898 until his death in 1946.

So numerous, original, comprehensive and important have been the studies of the heart emanating from the wards and laboratories of Mount Sinai Hospital that I think one can correctly speak of the Mount Sinai school of cardiologists, of which [Emanuel] Libman was the founder and guiding spirit
– William H. Welch (1850-1934)

1929

Dr. Arthur M. Master devised the prototype for today’s cardiac stress test, the “Master Two-Step”. This was the first exercise test to be standardized for the weight, height, and sex of the patient and evaluated the function of the heart through blood pressure and pulse rate measurements taken before and after exercise. Along with the work of Dr. Simon Dack, this ended an era when total bed rest was prescribed for cardiac cases, noting that lowered caloric intake and moderate exercise are beneficial, while total rest is harmful.


In 1934 Dr. W. Harold Branch joined the Mount Sinai Hospital as a volunteer physician. Dr. Branch was a research member of the special cardiac clinic from 1934 to 1950, where he eventually became Senior Clinical Assistant. From New Jersey, he attended Lincoln University (1920), Howard University Medical School (1928), New York University, Columbia University, and Dr. Branch observed and documented acute coronary occlusion in African Americans, which challenged existing theory on that subject. In 1937, he published an article about a case of sudden simultaneous bilateral embolism of the popliteal arteries, which in 2022 was still considered a “rare diagnosis.” On being elected to membership in the American Heart Association, the New York Times quoted him, saying he “believed he is the only Negro member of the group,” making him the first Black man to be a member. He worked at many hospitals in the metro area until his death.


1947

Cardiovascular Research Group formed as an interdepartmental entity under the direction of Dr. Marcy Sussman. Some of the earliest studies of angiography and congenital heart disease are performed. The group included the Hospital’s cardiographers and its other experts in various aspects of the physiology and pathology of the heart. Out of their work came two new developments. The first, on the scientific side, was a detailed study of the lesions in congenital heart disease, for which several new techniques and instruments were devised. The second grew out of the realization of the practical advantages of the pooled knowledge of the group as a unit, as well as their special equipment and their skill in using it. Other members of the Medical Staff, confronted by the extremely difficult technical problems involved in diagnosis and treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease, either as the main problem or as a complication in other illnesses, began referring such patients to the group. Also in 1947, the cardiac catheterization laboratory was established.


While these machines may look bulky and outdated, they were the cutting-edge technology in their day. Keeping pace with the latest and most efficient equipment remains critical to providing the best patient care. Used in the early days of pioneering cardiac treatments, these were used to perform angioplasties, open heart surgery, radionuclide stress tests, pacemaker interpretation, among others. This group of pictures span from the 1950s to the 2000s.


1956

Cardiology was established as a division within the Department of Medicine. Dr. Charles K. Friedberg was appointed Chief. 

Also in 1956, a separate residency was established for Cardiology–Nanette Kass Wenger, MD was appointed the first resident, hence also Chief Resident. She was among the first physicians to focus on coronary heart disease in women and to evaluate the different risk factors and features of the condition across genders. In 1958, she moved to Atlanta to become a senior resident in medicine at Emory University. Dr. Wenger conducted her clinical practice at Grady Memorial Hospital and was named director of cardiac clinics and director of the ambulatory electrocardiography laboratory in the 1960s. In 1971 she was appointed full professor of medicine, and in 1998 she became the chief of cardiology. Dr. Wenger has authored and co-authored more than 1,600 scientific and review articles and book chapters. Dedicated to her professional organizations, she was also a founder of the Society of Geriatric Cardiology. She received numerous awards, and in 2004 Dr. Wenger received the Gold Heart Award, the highest award of the American Heart Association.

1958

Mount Sinai Hospital’s Simon Dack, MD, became the first editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology and developed it over 25 years into one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals. In 1988, the journal became the official Journal of the American College of Cardiology, with Dr. Dack remaining as editor-in-chief.

1950s-1970s Research

Considerable research was performed in the Division of Cardiology. This included projects in heart failure, (Richard Lasser), cardiogenic shock (Leslie Kuhn), computerized ECGs, (Leon Pordy), heart block (William Stein), vectorcardiography (Arthur Grishman), hemodynamics (Howard Moscovitz and Alvin Gordon), echocardiography laboratory (Louis E. Teichholz). Additionally, Ephraim Donoso was cited as an outstanding clinical teacher.

“Mrs. Bel Scher, supervisor of cardiology at Mount Sinai Hospital, has worked at her profession for fifteen years. She trained at one hospital, then worked at several others, even setting up a department of neurology at one of them. Posing as the patient is Miss Dorothy Rucker, who is a technician in the ECG department. In 1967 the average age of the 28 million working women in the U.S. was 41 years.”

1969: Drs. Pordy and Chesky, go over a visitor’s cardiogram they have just taken, while Teodorina Bello, technician, makes a log entry. After running 172 EKG tests on physicians who visited the Mount Sinai booth, Dr. Pordy comes to the conclusion that many doctors should see a doctor.

1983

Valentín Fuster, MD, PhD was recruited from the Mayo Clinic to serve as the Chief of Cardiology. Dr. Fuster was already well known for his research on the relationship between platelet function and atherosclerosis, which helped unify researchers in these areas.

Mount Sinai Hospital Annual Report, 1983