We had the honor of visiting the newest hospital in San Antonio today…the first new hospital on the city’s Southside in 30 years — Mission Trails Baptist Hospital. This naturally inspired a curiosity about hospitals: the origins, the evolution, the fun facts!
The word Hospital can be originally drawn from the Latin word “hospes” meaning a foreigner or stranger, which leads us to guest; a derivative from this “hospitium” — which came to signify the relationship between guest and host — brings us to hospitality!
As guests today at Mission Trails Baptist Hospital, we can definitely say that all the welcoming reception and friendliness associated with that idea was certainly in evidence and the facility is most aptly named.
However, we’ve come a very long way from the Renaissance, when most people did not have the financial means or access to physicians. Instead midwives using herbal potions assisted not only with childbirth but also treated ailments. And, most minor surgeries were performed not in medical facilities but in BARBERSHOPS! Using the same tools for cutting hair and shaving beards, they lanced boils, removed warts, practiced blood-letting with leeches and even performed DENTAL PROCEDURES. This certainly makes that trip to The Smile Center look a LOT more appealing, doesn’t it? Even today, that barber-surgeon legacy continues with the striped barber pole: red represents the arterial blood, blue the venous blood and white for the bandages.
Dentists and Surgeons eventually became separate professions, moving away from their barbershop roots and giving rise to more formal education and dedicated facilities where specialized care could be rendered. In the United States, our own Renaissance Man, Benjamin Franklin helped found our first hospital in 1751, which was the first public hospital in the country. The Pennsylvania Hospital became the model upon which all public hospital systems were based.
Today, there are more than 17,000 hospital worldwide and more being built every day. Around the globe, Switzerland has the highest number of hospital bed per capita which may explain why folks admitted into a Swiss hospital have the longest average stay of any nation in the world — 10 days. Our neighbors to the south in Haiti only have one hospital bed for every 10,000 residents.
In the Netherlands, where hospital care is readily available, about 30% of all Dutch mothers still give birth at home, unlike the majority of their European counterparts where hospital births are the norm. While it may be easy to take a smug view of this from our US vantage, consider that the very first President ever born in a hospital was Jimmy Carter!
Just a couple of hours down the road from San Antonio, the largest medical center in the WORLD can be found in Houston at the Texas Medical Center! Seeing 4.8 million patients every year, the 52,000-plus employees keep 21 million square feet of facilities humming to the tune of a $10 BILLION impact on the economy.
Not everything associated with hospitals is serious, however! In Taiwan, a Hello Kitty-themed hospital can be found. And in 2009, Dartmouth Children’s Hospital in New Hampshire was the site of a Guinness World Record: The most people dressed in superhero costumes on file — 1,016!
Of course, no discussion of hospitals would be complete without noting the significant role they have played — and continue to play — in entertainment. The list of movies set in hospitals is staggering. From the serious examination of the life-and-death drama to the irreverence of M*A*S*H! Quick — what did M*A*S*H stand for? Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.
From Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey, St. Elsewhere and ER to Grey’s Anatomy and General Hospital, the venerated medical facilities have always provided rich fodder for television writers and never have been absent from the TV landscape!
And, while everyone who works in a hospital may not measure up to George Clooney or a “McDreamy”, doctors at the University of Barcelona Hospital noticed that surgeons tend to be taller and more attractive than other doctors. After testing this theory in a scientific study, their results showed that, on average, senior male surgeons were significantly taller and better looking than senior male physicians.
Now, we MAY be biased at The Smile Center, but we believe that Dentists could stand up to any surgeon in that department! But, don’t take our word for it…visit your neighborhood office of The Smile Center and see for yourself.