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The Lakeside Unit: Cleveland Medicine in World War I


The month of January (2015) marks 100 years since the organization of the Lakeside Unit, first US medical contingent to step foot on foreign soil in World War I. The Unit, comprised of Cleveland surgeons and nurses from Lakeside Hospital (now University Hospitals Case Medical Center) was generated by a request from the staff of the American Hospital in Paris and Myron T. Herrick, US Ambassador to France. This request was directed to George W. Crile, MD, chief of surgery at Lakeside. Crile was very interested in the opportunity to treat victims of mass trauma, as he was researching the effect of shock and hemorrhage on the human body. He heartily accepted this challenge and drew the personnel from surgeons and nurses he had worked with at Lakeside Hospital. The Unit spent three months in Paris operating out of the American Ambulance (French military term for “hospital) and in those three months treated over 1200 patients with gunshot, shrapnel and shell wounds, fractures, frostbite and trenchfoot.

This compelling story comes to life through George Crile’s personal diaries and the photographs taken by members of the Unit, housed in the historical collections at the Dittrick Medical History Center and the Stanley A. Ferguson Archives of University Hospitals. Archivists Jennifer Nieves (Dittrick) and Dianne O’Malia (University Hospitals) have curated several exhibits, presented papers at military medical conferences and are awaiting the spring publication of an article about the Unit’s experiences

We are extremely happy to announce the launch of a website featuring the photographs and documents generated by the Unit. The site tells the story of the Unit in three phases; from their three months in Paris, to the mock mobilization and coming soon, their two year stay in Rouen. This will be an ever growing site as we find more photos and new information about the Unit. Check in frequently! http://www.lakesideunit.com

Page last modified: February 8, 2017