Local history: Erlanger struggles for capital in early 1900s

The seven student graduates of the class of 1901 in Erlanger’s three-year nursing program are shown along with nursing school instructors and Erlanger’s first operating room supervisor, who was also an instructor. / Contributed photo

(Editor's note: Third in a series)

In the late 19th century, the idea of entering a hospital was viewed with hesitancy and often with fear. Hospitals were often considered to be "places where one simply went to die" and were avoided if at all possible. Doctors made house calls, and if a patient was not financially able to pay for medical services, he or she often was forced to rely upon the skills of "home care" from a family member. By 1900, Erlanger had helped to change that perception for Chattanooga residents.

In January 1902, according to The Baroness Collection, 20 private and 33 charity patients were cared for at Erlanger as the hospital continued to open rooms. Even with capital expenditures, Erlanger's monthly expenses were maintained at about $1,000 as Supt.