NATIONAL JEWISH CENTER FOR IMMUNOLOGY AND RESPIRATORY MEDICINE


NATIONAL JEWISH CENTER FOR IMMUNOLOGY AND RESPIRATORY MEDICINE, non-sectarian hospital and research facility in Denver, Colorado, for respiratory, immune and allergic disorders. As early as the 1860s, hundreds and later thousands of men and women flocked to Colorado to "chase the cure" and seek a remedy for tuberculosis, the most dreaded disease of the era and the leading cause of death in 19th-century America. There was no single accepted treatment standard for tuberculosis or consumption as it was commonly called in the early years, but by 1880 medical opinion emphasized fresh air and high altitude for respiratory ailments, and Colorado, with its dry and sunny climate, drew tuberculosis victims like a magnet. By 1896 Colorado was being flatteringly referred to as "the World's Sanatorium." Yet, consumptives who flocked to Denver in the hope of finding a cure were often unable to secure simple lodging, let alone medical care. Since no publicly supported institutions for tuberculosis existed at the time, the challenge of adequate care was left to private institutions. In Denver, the Jewish community was the first to come to their aid with the founding of National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives.

Frances Wisebart *Jacobs, nicknamed Denver's "Mother of Charities," was the impetus behind the founding of National Jewish Hospital. Launching a relentless campaign on behalf of the sick and indigent, she enlisted the assistance of the new rabbi at Temple Emanuel, Rabbi William Friedman, and they worked together with other community members for many years to make her dream a reality. The Jewish community, which numbered about 500 at the time, was composed primarily of acculturated German Reform Jews from Central Europe, and National Jewish Hospital was finally opened in 1899, with the financial assistance of the International Order of B'nai B'rith, the first sanatorium in Denver for tuberculosis patients. The hospital was formally non-sectarian and treated all patients free of charge; however, the vast majority of patients in the early years were East European Jews, and in addition to medical treatment the hospital taught classes in English, civics, and skills for new trades in an effort to Americanize the new immigrants and help make them financially self-sufficient. Like most early TB sanatoria, treatment emphasized enforced rest, fresh air and sunlight, and a diet rich in milk, eggs, and meat.

With the advent of antibiotic treatment, over the years the threat of tuberculosis was brought under control, and National Jewish Hospital evolved with the times. In 1978, National Jewish merged with the National Asthma Center, which grew out of the original Jewish Sheltering Home for Jewish Children (later the famed Children's Asthma Research Institute and Hospital (CARIH)), founded to assist the children of parents who were tuberculosis victims, and in 1986 the two institutions became known as the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine. The passing of time brought yet another change, and today the institution is called the National Jewish Medical and Research Center and continues to treat patients from throughout the country with cutting-edge medicine and research. It is known worldwide for treatment of patients with respiratory, immune and allergic disorders, the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to these illnesses. Since 1998 National Jewish has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Hospitals" as number one in the nation for excellence in treating respiratory diseases. In 1999 National Jewish marked its centennial and a legacy of one hundred years of healing. Today, it continues as a non-sectarian, independent, not-for-profit clinical and medical research center whose mission is to develop and provide innovative programs for treating patients of all ages and to discover knowledge to educate health care professionals and provide them with the tools for treatment and prevention.

[Jeanne Abrams (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.