Published On November 20, 2020
One of the greatest global outbreaks of cholera starts in 1831, and by 1833 it has spread to Quebec, Nova Scotia and New York. MGH doctors propose special wards to isolate patients with this and other contagious diseases. By 1849, construction begins on a standalone building—“The Brick.”
Vaccination of the Vulnerable
Boston sees an outbreak of smallpox. A vaccine has been available for more than 50 years, but despite compulsory vaccination in Massachusetts, many haven’t received it. The trustees of the hospital vote that year that whenever a case occurs in the hospital, all patients should receive a fresh vaccination.
A Disease Census
Accurate numbers of Spanish flu victims are critical for planning, especially on the war front in Europe. At Base Hospital No. 6, a hospital run by MGH in France, the staff epidemiologist takes a survey of troops in the area and produces daily reports on the presence of disease. This innovation gives commanders critical information that helps blunt outbreaks.
The Respiratory Intensive Care Unit
During the polio outbreak of 1952 to 1955, MGH takes the unprecedented step of devoting an entire floor—the ninth floor of the White Building—to the disease. One of its hallmarks is the weakening of chest muscles, and many patients require an iron lung to breathe. Soon after, MGH creates the first unit dedicated to respiratory intensive care in the United States.
Prepared for the Worst
The 2014 Ebola outbreak sees more than 11,000 deaths in Africa and a few cases make it to the United States. This highly infectious, deadly pathogen calls for a national response. MGH is designated one of only 10 regional emerging and special pathogens treatment centers in the United States, which entails a trained staff and a network of transmission protections.
Stay on the frontiers of medicine
- Chapter 1: In the Path of the Pandemic
A novel coronavirus would come to affect every ward, clinician, researcher and patient at Massachusetts General Hospital.
- Chapter 2: The Virtues of Necessity
As the first COVID-19 patients arrived, pressure mounted to discover how the disease worked and how it could be beaten back.
- Chapter 3: The Fight That Lies Ahead
When the caseload began to ease, clinicians came to grips with the new normal as researchers set their sights on ending the pandemic for good.