Throwback Thursday: Nursery remodeled, April 12, 1953
By Kristy Bleizeffer Apr 7, 2021
On April 12, 1953, Memorial Hospital of Natrona County unveiled their newly remodeled nursery to the Casper Tribune-Herald.
“We’re turning out more college material than Natrona County has ever known," nurses told the paper. They then pointed to the new Bloxsam Oxygen-Air Pressure Lock, a newborn incubator with air that was 60 percent oxygen. “That increases brain power,” the nurses said.
History, though, proved that it didn’t. A 1956 clinical trial showed no difference in the outcomes of newborns placed in a Bloxsam than those placed in other incubators. More than 700 hospitals used Bloxsams before they fell out of favor in the late 1950s.
But, in 1953, the Bloxam was one of the stars of our new obstetrics department. The project’s price tag? $21,000.
The Tribune-Herald seemed impressed: “Indeed, the new obstetrical department with its all-out emphasis on scientific care reflects the continuing progress of hospital and medical science in assuring a healthy start in life for all youngsters.”
Some of our “all-out emphasis on scientific care” included:
- Bathrooms and showers: The new remodel included “semi-private rooms for mothers, bathroom facilities adjoining all rooms and shower facilities for all patients. Prenatal patients, who previously had no adjacent bathroom facilities and absolutely no shower facilities, now have both within easy reach.”
- An Autoclave sterilization machine: Before 1953, bottles, water, nipples, milk and everything else used in feeding babies was sterilized separately using the “standard method.” But with the Autoclave, nurses could mix the formula, seal the bottles and put them in Autoclave, “which provides seven pounds of steam pressure at temperatures up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit. When removed, the whole works is sterile.”
- Coordinated color: “The color scheme gives every room a light, attractive look. The old beiges, creams and dark browns have been replaced by a nice, warm brown and a soft, muted green in the nursery. Swedish red in the nurses’ station and medicine room, pale green and white in the delivery rooms and a soft green throughout the remaining sections.”
- Contamination control: Nursery care was so strict that doctors were kept out unless they scrubbed, capped, masked and gowned. They could check babies in the examination room, separated from the nursery by a plate-glass window with a sliding glass panel. “The babies are placed on small, shell-like trays and passed through the sliding panel to the doctors, who hand them back through the opening to an attendant when examinations are completed. Nurses and attendants actually working with the babies wear clean white dresses.”
Throwback Thursday looks back on Wyoming Medical Center’s long, rich history in Natrona County. Special thanks to the Casper College Western History Center, which archives our vast collection of newspaper articles, photographs and other memorabilia; and to "Wyoming Medical Center: A Centennial History," by Rebecca A. Hunt, Ph.D.