News Release: Emory Healthcare

Mar. 30,  2009

Emory Healthcare Thanks Doctors and Honors History on National Doctors' Day

When we are ill, doctors are the people we want to see most because they are trained to heal. When we are well, doctors are trained to help keep us well. No matter the specialty, physicians make a difference every day in caring for the sick, injured and well, while advancing medicine to the next level.

March 30 is National Doctors' Day, a day to show appreciation to doctors across the country. Emory Healthcare takes the day to recognize the extraordinary work and care its highly skilled physicians provide to thousands of patients and their families annually.

"Emory physicians are recognized as true leaders in discovery, innovation and outstanding care that make a difference in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases, not only in Georgia, but around the globe," says John T. Fox, president and CEO of Emory Healthcare. "Doctors' Day provides a simple way for Emory Healthcare and health care systems nationwide to say thank you to so many dedicated professionals."

The first Doctors' Day observance was held on March 30, 1933, by the Barrow County Alliance, in Winder, Ga. The idea of setting aside a day to honor physicians was conceived by Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond. The recognition occurred on the anniversary of the first administration of anesthesia by Dr. Crawford W. Long in Barrow County, in 1842. (On March 30, 1842, Dr. Long used ether to remove a tumor from a patient's neck.) The first National Doctors' Day was celebrated in 1991.

The former Emory Crawford Long Hospital, now named Emory University Hospital Midtown (EUHM), was named after Dr. Long in 1931 because of his achievements and innovations in medicine.

About Crawford W. Long, MD

Dr. Long graduated in 1839 from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which was the most prominent medical school in America in Dr. Long's time. He trained for two more years in hospitals in New York before coming to Jefferson, Georgia, to set up a practice near his family.

While in Pennsylvania, Crawford Long and several of his fellow medical students observed traveling showmen dispense nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or ether to curious crowds interested in the intoxicating effects of the chemicals. Because of the exhilarating results, this became a popular leisure time activity among young people.

The legend, passed down by Dr. Long's family and friends, was that some of the locals in Jefferson heard about the intoxicating effects of nitrous oxide and asked the young doctor if they could try it. Dr. Long did not have a way to prepare or preserve the laughing gas, but did have a medicine, sulfuric ether, which would produce equally intoxicating effects. Ideas about social use of drugs were different more than 160 years ago, and Dr. Long agreed to let them try ether in a controlled setting. While the young people were under the influence of the ether, they apparently felt no pain. As a highly trained physician, Dr. Long recognized that he might have found the solution to the search for anesthesia.

Anesthesia, a way to make patients both unaware of pain and still enough for surgery, was an essential to the advance of medicine. In fact, it is said that for modern medicine to exist, three discoveries had to be made: anesthesia, antiseptics or the realization of germs and bacteria, and antibiotics.

Dr. Long discovered the key to anesthesia in 1842, antiseptics were discovered in the 1860s, and antibiotics were discovered in the early part of the 20th century.

Keeping History Alive

In Februry 2009, Emory University renamed Emory Crawford Long Hospital to Emory University Hospital Midtown. Being more clearly affiliated with Emory in the public eye helps to expand upon the hospital's 100-year tradition of providing outstanding care to people in metro Atlanta and throughout the region.

Even though the hospital has a different name now, the history of Dr. Long lives throughout the Midtown Atlanta institution. Some of the historical signage will remain intact, while adding the initials "CL" for Crawford Long onto much of its new signage. A museum-quality historical display, erected during the hospital's 100th anniversary in 2008, remains in a high-traffic area for all to see.

Plans are underway for the Crawford W. Long Museum to be more prominently featured to both patients and visitors. Historical medical equipment, some of which came from Dr. Long's medical practice, can be found in the museum. A marble statue of Dr. Crawford Long, which is a replica of the one that stands in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., is among the display.

"As Emory University Hospital Midtown continues to grow into a premier academic medical center, our goal is to keep the Crawford Long name and history ever present within the hospital," says Dane Peterson, COO, Emory University Hospital Midtown. "As we celebrate Doctors' Day, there is no better time than this day to highlight Dr. Long, his historical discovery and his namesake within our hospital."


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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