“The Atlantic City Convention was in all respects the best meeting in the history of the American Hospital Association.”

So declared Hospitals magazine in an October 1937 report about the convention held earlier that year in the New Jersey resort city. More than 4,000 people from as far away as Cuba and China registered for the meeting and, if the Hospitals article is any indication, they must have been very pleased to be there.
“The Convention Hall was a thing of beauty,” the magazine crowed. “The Exhibitors had staged a wonderful display of equipment and merchandise. The wide avenues and aisles were lined on either side with attractive booths and well displayed products. Lounges were conveniently located.”

One highlight: “Mrs. Eleanor D. Roosevelt, the First Lady of our Land, paid a special visit to the Convention Hall on Tuesday afternoon and was very interested in the exhibits, which she personally visited.” Moreover, state governors were holding their conference in Atlantic City at the same time, and 21 of them visited the AHA convention. “All of them,” Hospitals reported, “were very much interested in the work of the Association and in the Exhibits.”

In addition to a full slate of roundtables, clinical demonstrations and panel discussions, attendees got a chance to ride the AC Escorter, the latest model of the rolling chairs that carried tourists up and down the famed 5-mile boardwalk. They also were entertained by “the finest choir in the land,” the Westminster Choir of Princeton and by “the delightful artist, the lyric tenor of the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Joseph Bentonelli.”

While the AHA convention no longer takes place, the association and its subsidiary, Health Forum, hold an annual Leadership Summit that draws big-name keynote speakers and health care leaders from across the country. This year’s Summit will take place July 23-25, in San Francisco.

Check out H&HN's other blasts to the past in our previous Throwback Thursday posts.