Throwback Thursday this week highlights the good parts of two public health-related stories featured in the May 1936 issue of Hospitals magazine, in honor of Public Health Week, which runs through April 10.

In an article titled “It Did Happen,” the story of how Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital treated a surge of 50 patients after the Johnstown Flood of 1936, was related by H.G. Fritz, superintendent of the Johnstown, Pa., hospital.

Conemaugh was one of the facilities that picked up the slack left by Lee Hospital, which was knocked out of service by the flood. One of the ways it managed to do that was by converting a sun porch into an emergency ward, pictured above.

Fritz offers 15 pieces of advice, including: “Do not let newspaper men influence you to make statements or make any intimations on which they might quote you in order to exaggerate the degree of the work.” That's still good advice.

Fritz also urges hospital executives, “Do not hesitate to commandeer the services of any individuals or their equipment.” It’s unclear how well that one holds up.

The issue also introduces the new U.S. surgeon general, Thomas Parran Jr., M.D., hailing his experience in syphilis control and rural health.

thomas parranParts of Parran’s “Six-Point Program” for his term should sound familiar to modern public health officials, while others won’t:

  1. Finish wiping out tuberculosis.
  2. Wipe out “the unmentionable disease,” syphilis.
  3. Boost access to cancer treatments.
  4. Reduce the death rates of mothers in childbirth and of newborns in the first month of life.
  5. Correct the conditions that result from improper diet.
  6. Improve the lives of children with disabilities.