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Adjusting Our Lives

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Dr. Frank’s articles appear in this space every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

In recent times, the number of hospitals has rapidly increased and there has been great improvement in the quality of hospital service. Hospitals originally intended for the care of the indigent sick, later developed to meet the needs of the well-to-do in private hospitals, and now there is a growing tendency to serve the patient of moderate means. In the United States, about 800,000 disabled people are now found in the hospitals at almost any given time.


Certain definite factors, peculiar to Jewish life and related to habits, particularly our religious prohibitions and dietary precautions, justify the great need for the existence of separate Jewish hospitals. In communities containing large and moderate sized Jewish populations, they are surely as necessary as other sectarian hospitals.

This “separatism” has in the past few years been criticized for the reason of the heavy financial burden caused by Jewish hospitals to the federations for the support of Jewish charities. On a fair average, one-third of federation budgets goes for the support of Jewish hospitals and clinics.

Although the Jewish welfare service is now more than ever before greatly pressed for funds, this consideration can hardly eclipse the fact that separate Jewish hospitals are necessary on many plausible grounds. Their establishment has been prompted by a desire on the part of the self-respecting Jewish community for a Jewish atmosphere, Jewish food, and the justified wish, alive in any patient, to be fully understood and sympathetically treated.

The advantage of being understood, even if the vernacular of the patient is Yiddish, German or Polish, is, let us remember, not only a strong influence in putting the patient at ease, but is also very important from a medical point of view, namely, as a means of arriving at the proper diagnosis of what really ails the patient.


It is important to emphasize that a strong anti-Semitic bias and prejudice exists in Gentile hospitals and clinics as regards Jewish doctors and nurses. For this reason alone, the necessity of special Jewish hospitals cannot be gainsaid. In fact, a well-functioning hospital offers sufficient facilities for the training of the young interne and doctor, in the main hospital (wards) itself as well as in the out-patient department (dispensary).

Without practice in a hospital on the part of the young physician, and without affiliation with a hospital by its seasoned medical man, it is thus, impossible to raise the level and quality of the Jewish medical practice of the future.

Again, Jewish hospitals alone offer opportunities for the training of young Jewish nurses, and can do a great deal to meet the future demand for these professional women in and out of hospital wards. In a few words, the valuable opportunities which present themselves in hospitals have done and will do much in the future towards the training of Jewish physicians and nurses.


The fact that non-Jewish hospitals admit Jewish patients merely shows that hospitals need the patients as well as the patients need the hospitals. In larger cities, forty to fifty per cent of Jewish patients are hospitalized in Gentile institutions, including the city hospitals. They are supplying good material for training purposes. These same hospitals welcome, of course, contributions from Jewish sources, but they fail to show their liberality in the admission of Jewish internes and in the affiliation of Jewish doctors.

“Acute,” that is, general hospitals, are only one aspect of health work in the community. There is as much need for Jewish hospitals for the scientific and up-to-date care of the chronic sick and the convalescent. As a matter of incontestable fact, however, the number of beds for chronic and convalescent patients is, in Jewish hospitals, disquietingly insufficient.

For many years to come, there will be continued need for Jewish hospital facilities, both for patients in wards and in the out-patient clinics. Where there is a Jewish hospital within the community, the child care, family service and other social welfare agencies that require medical service can make contacts with the hospital for the benefit of the clients.


The ideal should be a completely rounded out, unified and integrated community plan for health work, with high standards of sickness prevention and efficient treatment.

In other words, a Jewish hospital, to function adequately, has to become the heart and core of a health center. We use the term center not only in the usual sense of preventive medical work, health education, and coordinated communal activity for the needy acutely sick, but as the center for all Jewish sick people. This ideal can be attained in various ways.

Either in a wing, or in a separate plant near the hospital our sick aged and our chronic sick have to be taken care of institutionally. Near the hospital also might be located the community’s convalescent home, unless the community is very large and can afford both town and rural or suburban convalescent facilities.

To sum up, we should think of Jewish hospitals no longer as hospitals for the acutely sick, but as general hospitals, primarily for the Jewish sick, serving as best they can the institutional care of all the sick, chronic, convalescent, acute and mentally deficient. With the rapid aging of the American Jewish community the number of chronically sick persons and incurables will grow in an unprecedented way.

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