Published: February 28, 2022

Medical History in Philadelphia

Add to your agenda these five medical history spots to explore while at the AAO-HNSF 2022 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience, September 10-14.

Am22 Logo Square Rgb SquareThe Mütter Museum/College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 19 S. 22nd Street

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia was founded in 1787, making it one of the country's oldest professional medical associations. The Mütter Museum contains a collection of more than 25,000 medical “curiosities” including the Chevalier Jackson, MD, Collection, which houses 2,374 inhaled or swallowed foreign bodies that Dr. Jackson extracted from patients’ throats, esophaguses, and lungs during his almost 75-year-long career. Most of the items are on display.

Pennsylvania Hospital, 800 Spruce Street

The nation's first hospital was founded by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond in 1751, for “relief of the sick poor” of Philadelphia. The modern hospital offers guided tours that allow you to see the country's oldest existing operating theater where patients were “sedated” with alcohol, laudanum, or a hit to the head.

Physick House, 321 S. Fourth Street

Dr. Phillip Syng Physick lived in and had an office in this building in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Among Physick's patients were President Andrew Jackson, Chief Justice John Marshall and Dolley Todd Madison. The house was converted to a museum in the 1970s. Among the items on display are Physick's surgical tools, including blood letting instruments, stomach pumps and tubes to remove kidney stones. The house is said to be haunted. Tours are offered of the museum and garden.

Wills Eye Hospital, 840 Walnut Street

The first U.S. medical facility dedicated to the treatment of eyes, Wills Eye Hospital was created through an endowment by Quaker merchant James Wills, established in 1832. The world-renowned institute was instrumental in establishing ophthalmology as its own branch of medicine in the United States, created the first residency program in the country, and pioneered many techniques for the prevention and treatment of eye disease.

Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross (The Gross Clinic) at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Thomas Eakins was one of the finest realist painters of his time and master of the art of the human figure. A lifelong Philadelphia resident, he painted portraits and scenes of sporting and medical events including “Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross (The Gross Clinic)” in 1875. The subject is the world-famous surgeon and teacher in Jefferson Medical College's surgical amphitheater leading a clinic of five doctors operating on a patient. The depiction was shocking and frightening to those who saw it for the first time but is now recognized as one of the greatest American paintings, on view in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts' Historic Landmark Building.

More from March 2022 – Vol. 41, No. 2