BY MIKE MAGEE
Health entrepreneurs today tend to give themselves very high grades, and seem surprised when their creations fall short of expectations due to a disconnect with funders or regulators with legal authority. But Medicine isn’t fair, and genius is not that common.
What other conclusion can you draw from the thousands of references and citations featuring Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush and his wild ideas on how to heroically treat Yellow Fever in 1793, but likely never heard of Dr. John Henry Rauch. The former signed the Declaration of Independence but directly or indirectly contributed to many an unpleasant death. The latter saved millions and helped the AMA and the AAMC find their way out of their post-Civil War professional wilderness.
Dr. Rauch’s career, its’ span and breadth, is startling and could well serve as a yardstick for medical imagineers today. Born in Lebanon, PA in 1828, he received his Medical Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and then opened a practice in Burlington, Iowa. He was there in 1850 for the birthing of the Iowa State Medical Society, and with their encouragement published (just five years after Iowa achieved statehood) the epic “Medical and Economic Botany of Iowa” listing 516 species, fully 23% of the known flora of the state today.
Two decades later, he was onsite in Chicago from October 8-10, 1871, when 3.3 square miles of Chicago burned to the ground taking 300 souls with it, and managed the emergency medical aftermath for the city. By then he was all too familiar with conflagration and disaster, having earned the imprimatur of lieutenant-colonel from the Union Army as assistant medical-director of the famed Army of Virginia during the Civil War.Continue reading…