|The Chicago Fresh Air Hospital building's footprint is highlighted in green.|
|Photo courtesy of the Rogers Park West Ridge Historical Society.|
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease of the lungs and other organs. Once considered incurable, the disease caused its victims to slowly waste away, which was why it was called “consumption.” With a mortality rate of approximately 18 per 10,000 people, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death within the city of Chicago at the turn of the 20th century.The Chicago Fresh Air Hospital later became known as Bethesda Hospital around 1960 and, at one time, was affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital (today's Sinai Health System).
Early attempts at controlling tuberculosis in Chicago focused on home sanitation, public health education, and isolation of the patient. Private hospitals took in a few tuberculosis patients, but public facilities to care for the affected were not available.
In order to raise public awareness, the Visiting Nurses Association and physician Theodore Sachs spearheaded an antituberculosis movement in the early 1900s. This eventually resulted in the passage of state legislation, the Glackin Tuberculosis Law, in 1909, giving the city of Chicago the ability to raise funds for the treatment and control of tuberculosis through a special property tax.
In 1914, there were 10,000 registered cases of Tuberculosis (TB). The number of deaths due to TB in Chicago that year was 3, 384. Yet there were only 300 public beds available in the city for patients who could not afford to pay for treatment. In March 1915, the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium opened its doors to citizens of Chicago suffering from tuberculosis. Treatment was free to residents of Chicago.
In 2005 a Korean-American gentleman named Park converted the former hospital into a condominium complex.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.