It wasn’t easy to recruit doctors to work in tuberculosis sanatoriums. Many who took the job had recovered from tuberculosis themselves. The Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium near Puposky, Minnesota, in the cold north-central area of the state, went through several doctors before finding one who would stay. At first, there was a superintendent and several visiting doctors. When Margaret Neal took the job as the San’s first superintendent in 1916, she brought along her tuberculous husband, Dr. Homer Neal, who could not treat patients because of his illness. However, when doctors visited, they looked in on him because he and his wife lived in the Sanatorium. Neal eventually died at the San, but not from tuberculosis. Learn more in Open Window, Chapter 6.
Finally, Dr. R. L. Laney arrived to serve as both the San physician and the superintendent. He did much to make the San self-sufficient. He had stayed longer than any of the other doctors, but once he got the San off to a good start, he, too, gave notice.
It was not easy to find a replacement. Laney was ready to leave. Finally, board member Mary Chapman Ghostley agreed to take the job. Having just adopted a baby daughter, the commissioners had to first agree to pay her a man’s wage so that she could afford to hire someone to help take care of the baby. And her husband would have to give up his job at the bank. There were few opportunities outside of the San in Puposky.
Throughout Open Window, you will read about Dr. Mary’s independent nature, her hard work and determination, and the dedication that kept her working until she was 85.
Photo: Dr. Mary Ghostley arrives as her first job as a physician in Blackduck, MN.