A comfortable little old lady,known as the “mother”of the National Jewish Hospital at Denver, came to New York yesterday afternoon.She is Mrs. Seraphine Pisko,seventy-three,pioneer hospital and social welfare leader of Denver,Colorado,and executive secretary of the hospital ward for more than thirty years.With Dr. William S. Friedman,president of the institution she has arrived to attend the national annual board meeting to be held Sunday at the Waldorf Astoria.
At the age when most women are relegated to arm chairs ,Mrs.Pisko is still full of enthusiasm and ambition for her remarkable “child”, the first and largest national,non-sectaian, free hospital for tubercular poor in the United States. A greyhaired,pleasantly wrinkled,diminutive woman,dressed simply in black,she speaks with pardonable pride of the modest birth of her life’s work.
“In the early days of Denver,poor people with tuberculosis,Jews,came from every part of the country in search of health in the Colorado climate.But they needed more than climate they needed food,shelter and medical care.We were just a handful of Jews in those days and we could not take care of them all. We did the best we could, but it was not enough.Our rabbi, Dr. William S. Friedman,conceived the idea of a free hospital for tubercular patients.We finally managed to open through the help of the B’nai Brith Lodge,and we started with teen.”
The hospital is “kosher”and has a Hebrew school for the children, besides its regular public school studies.There is a synagogue in which services are held twice a day and “Kaddish” recited for the dead.
Mrs.Pisko recalls as a “wonderful dream comes true”, the dedication of the hospital thirty-five years ago, on December 1899.Previous to this date the poor Jewish consumptives used to live in “rooms” ,hardly cared for, neglected,with occasional free services by some kindly physician.
“Now”,she said,with glowing eyes, “we have one of the most upto-date hospitals for tuberculars in the world.We are able to help far-advanced patients to a remarkable degree. We are also doing wonderful work for crippled children and our hospital contains the only national preventorium for children in the United States. And most important of all, it is the only place, outside of heaven,that money will keep you out of. No one who can pay may enter.”