St. Luke’s ICU, 1962

January 21, 1962

Mrs. Edward Stein, head nurse, checks the Circ-O-Lectric bed in the intensive care unit at St. Luke’s in Janu-ary 1962. Ethan A. Phillips, 57, of West Allis, Wis., has occupied the bed since a recent operation for a cerebral hemorrhage. Mrs. Phillips is at left. The bed can be turned in a circle so the patient, usually paralyzed, can be moved to different positions. News Tribune file photo

The intensive care unit, or ICU, is a standard feature of today’s medical centers. But back in 1962, the concept was relatively new. This photo accompanied a Jan. 21, 1962, News Tribune article marking the first anniversary of the ICU at St. Luke’s hospital. Here are some excerpts:


By David L. Gardner, News-Tribune staff writer

Several persons were sitting in the small waiting room on the fifth floor of St. Luke’s Hospital. A telephone at one side of the room was the center of attention.

"That’s a direct line into the unit" the resident administrator was saying. "If a person wants to see a patient, he calls into the unit to find out if he may."

"The unit" is the intensive care section now nearing its first year of operation and considered one of the most important departments of the hospital. …

As the name implies, it accommodates in one area critically ill patients in need of close supervision. It also provides supplementary service when the post-anesthesia recovery room is closed and a treatment center for accident victims when emergency rooms are filled. …

From the "nerve center" of the St. Luke’s intensive care unit, all 16 patients in the section can be seen. News Tribune file photo


The efficiency of the unit is noticeable when one first enters the room. From her desk in one corner, Head Nurse Mrs. Edward Stein can see all of the room’s 16 beds unless the curtains have been drawn around a patient for breathing or examination.
Resident Administrator David Schmauss said the unit “virtually does away with the special duty nurse.

“Before the cost to the family for a room and a special duty nurse was about $80 a day,” Schmauss continued. “It costs a person $40 a day in the intensive care unit and he still receives the special care his condition demands.” …

Visitors are allowed in the unit only five minutes out of every hour, at any time during the day. Only one person may see a patient at a time and that one must be a relative.


I would have like to have included the first name of the ICU’s head nurse, but — in a sign of the era — she was referred to only as “Mrs. Edward Stein.”

5 Responses

  1. Pingback : Duluth hospital photos, 1960s | News Tribune Attic

  2. Beverly

    Genealogy research can be hindered by the “Mrs. Husband’s Name.” It’s hard to understand nowadays why women wouldn’t use their own names.

  3. Jim

    I stay in contact with Bob Stein, Dorthy Stein’s son. I think her nickname was Dot. Not sure. She was a very nice woman.

  4. Don H.

    My wife went through St. Luke’s RN program from 1972-75, at which time she began her employment there (she’s still there). She remembers Mrs. Stein very well, and tells me her first name was Dorothy.

  5. michelle (cunningham) mills

    Thank you for the article and photos that bring back to me so many wonderful memories. I was a third year nursing student in 1961 and was involved in the moving of patients from the medical/surgical ward adjoining the new ICU into the new unit. I was fortunate to work in the new ICU as a student nurse and was awed by what then were amazing advances in critical care: oxygen available from wall outlets rather than from heavy, clumsy oxygen tanks at the bedside, suction access from a wall outlet to enable quick access for removing matter from patients’ airway and for providing operation of chest drainage apparatus, doing away with the glass bottles by the bedside and such advances as the circle bed along with the superior layout of the unit to provide constant patient observation. I, of course, recall head nurse Mrs. Stein very well. She was a wonderful, skilled and compassionate nurse and a perfect role model for all of us who worked as nursing students under her direction. We never called her by her first name. That was not acceptable in those days and, unfortunately, I do not find her name listed in my copy of the 1958-60 St. Luke’s School of Nursing bulletin.

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