I am writing this post as part of a series on gratitude for health, in its various forms. It is a continuation of sorts from my very first post.

In 1830, a shopkeeper and his wife living in what is now the Westphalia region of Germany welcomed the birth of their son, Abraham Jacobi. Impoverished, the parents worked indefatigably, saved their money, and sacrificed a great deal to put their son through school. Their efforts paid off and Jacobi earned his medical degree in 1851. After fleeing Germany to avoid arrest for promoting political and social reform, Jacobi emigrated to the United States. His early contributions to the New York Medical Journal helped established pediatrics as a medical speciality. Then, nine years after obtaining his medical degree, he was hired by the New York Medical College and held the first medical position in North America that focused on childhood diseases.

Pediatrics is a relatively young discipline and, at the time it was established, it represented a departure from mainstream medicine. It is not that physicians in North America didn’t treat children, and not even that they didn’t focus their practices on treating children. A pediatric hospital for orphans and poor children had been established in Philadelphia about five years before Jacobi accepted his position at the New York Medical College, and even that was certainly not the first children’s hospital in the world. What was unique in the establishment of pediatrics was the idea that children’s presentation of certain illnesses was in many ways fundamentally different than the presentation in adults.

Boy with Stethoscope

Photo Credit: (c) J. Matthew Lake

There is nothing sadder than illness or death in children. The idea of pediatrics and especially children’s hospitals is one for which I hold a great deal of admiration and gratitude.  Someone had the idea of bringing together the best in the field of pediatrics and placing them in one place so that very sick children could get the best care possible.  It was part of larger movement that acknowledged that children should be afforded some greater protection from the ills of the world.

Today, I am thankful for the field of pediatrics and for children’s hospitals, because they have saved my son (twice), have saved the children of people I know, and they save more children every day.

Have you had a positive experience with children’s hospitals? Please share your thoughts in the Comments.

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