Celebrating Boston City Hospital

As the holiday season kicks into full gear and the New Year approaches, BUSM celebrated the past and explored history of Boston City Hospital (BCH). An intimate group of faculty and students attended “Memoirs of Boston City Hospital,” held in Hiebert Lounge on Thursday, Nov. 30.

The two-part event began with roundtable discussions lead by individuals who had worked at BCH, including:

  • Edward Alexander, MD – Nephrology
  • Emelia Benjamin, MD – Cardiology
  • Charles Bliss, MD – Gastroenterology
  • Sheila Chapman, MD – Internal Medicine
  • James Feldman, MD – Emergency Medicine
  • Kevan Hartshorn, MD – Hematology & Oncology
  • Angela Jackson, MD – Internal Medicine
  • Thea James, MD – Emergency Medicine
  • Elizabeth Klings, MD – Pulmonology
  • Howard Libman, MD – Internal Medicine
  • Robert Witzburg, MD – Internal Medicine

Past and present colleagues reconnected as they shared relics from the past, including old nametags, framed images and old printed photos, posters, books, and even bricks from older buildings no longer standing. Participants spoke fondly about their earlier days as residents and young physicians, most notably at a time when HIV was a new disease with little information for diagnosis.

The second part of the program included a historic overview and look ahead from Drs. Witzburg and James, respectively.


  • In 1849, Elisha Goodnow left the city of Boston $16,500 “for the benefit of a city hospital,” provided that it go toward the “perpetual maintenance of free beds under the control of the government.” That endowment now would be worth up to $127 million!
  • The first motorized ambulance in the city of Boston was believed to be from Boston City Hospital.
  • Francis Weld Peabody wrote his famous JAMA paper, “The Caring Physician,” at Boston City Hospital, in which he states: “One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” This paper has become an important part of medical school curriculum and is said to be as valid today as it was at the time it was written.
  • The Design Committee for the New Inpatient Facility at BCH (now the Menino Pavilion of BMC) recommended that “no patient shall be transported underground” in the new facility.

The event was sponsored by the Student National Medical Society (SNMA), Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA), BUSM Historical Society, The Beat, and Medical Humanities.

Click here to view photos from the event!