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Society member opens the state’s first TB sanitarium in 1903


Tuberculosis (TB) at the turn of the 20th Century was a critical issue for the Wisconsin Medical Society.

In 1904, the Society launched a public health campaign to educate people about the disease, 21 years after sending its first recommendations to the State Board of Health on how to prevent the spread of TB.

The campaign urged the public schools at the time “to abandon the practice of having all the children in one class share a single handkerchief, toothbrush and toothpick.”

A year before the Society launched its TB campaign, member W.B. Hopkins, MD, of Cumberland opened the state’s first TB sanitarium. Evergreen Cottage Park Sanatorium, located in Lake Nebagamon in Douglas County began operation in 1903. Dr. Hopkins, and other physicians who volunteered their time there, treated patients during the summer months.

Evergreen Cottage Park consisted of just an office and three one-story structures with screened-in sides—two wards segregating women and men and a dining hall. Patients paid $15 a week, or if they wished, could build their own cabins on the property and pay $10 a week for medical treatment.

According to a historical marker erected by the Society in 1966 where Dr. Hopkins’ TB sanitarium once stood, patients treated at Evergreen Cottage Park were given “close medical attention, good food and restrained exercise” to keep them “cheerful, hopeful, temperate in all things.”

Financial difficulties forced Dr. Hopkins to close Evergreen Cottage Park in 1905. But the work he and his colleagues did there was not forgotten. The last sentence on the marker reads: “It was a brave effort that stimulated inquiry into the treatment of tuberculosis in Wisconsin.”

The same year Dr. Hopkins’ Evergreen Cottage Park closed, the state legislature passed an act establishing a state-run TB sanitarium.

Test your knowledge

In what year was the first Presidential Citation awarded? If you know the answer or want to take a guess e-mail Jennifer Wieman before noon Wednesday, April 13. Good luck!

Paul Wertsch, MD, correctly answered last week’s question. Sandra L. Osborn was the Society’s third woman president, serving from 1997-1998. Other women to have served as Society president are: Pauline Jackson, MD (1993-1994), Marcia J.S. Richards, MD (1995-1996), Tosha Wetterneck, MD (2012-2013), and Barbara A. Hummel, MD (2016-2017).

Due to multiple responses, this week’s winner was randomly drawn.

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