The 1940’s …The War Years
The 1940’s found the membership consolidating. It was an association acutely aware of the roles they were playing in filling the needs of the hospital, the medical record, and the membership. During this decade the association provided ongoing education and training for medical records personnel. To do this, the various branches of the association held meetings at various area hospitals where the members came to learn and share, to exchange information, techniques, policies, and plans.
In 1941 the Association of Record Librarians of North America Convention was held in Boston. It was held at the Westminster Hotel, The Vendome, and the Copley Square Hotel. A single room with a bath was $2.50 per person per day and a suite of three rooms was $8.00 per day. In the greeting letter to each attendee the association wrote “….you gals from the big cities may smile at our lack of hustle and bustle, but on the other hand, girls from smaller towns will enjoy tremendously the novelty of tranquility in a metropolis, which we feel is definitely part of Boston’s charm.”
In 1944 the Canadian members of ARLNA formed their own national organization so the name of the American group became the American Association of Medical Record Librarians (AAMRL)
The 1948 annual AAMRL convention was also held in Boston.
It was during this decade that members were encouraged to take the registration examination given by the American Association of Medical Record Librarians. It was predicted that in the near future only the graduates of approved schools with programs for training record librarians would be able to sit for the examination.
World War II, 1942 – 1945: In July of 1942 the state association produced its first publication, “The Massachusetts News Letter” to the membership. This was in response to the restrictions precipitated by World War II. The war and its efforts enveloped everyone and every activity. Only one meeting a year of the state association was held and all other communication, sharing and networking were done through the “News Letter”. During this time there were travel restrictions and a scarcity of accommodations. Hotels, trains, and buses were taken over by the armed forces forcing the cancellation of many state and national meetings.
In health care facilities there were great demands put on medical records personnel. Many doctors, nurses, and many health care providers enlisted in the armed forces, forcing remaining staff to be rationed throughout the facility. Many record personnel were called to help at military hospitals. Hospital administrators were encouraged to maintain high standards of record keeping during this time. In 1942 it was recommended that each physician write a summary at the end of each patient’s hospital stay rather than having the record clerk abstract the record.
In the first issue of the “News Letter”, eighty three year old Grace Whiting Myers wrote “…What am I doing to help win the War? … What can I do? … Read Dr. MacEachern’s advice … read Oliver G. Pratt’s ‘Keeping Records in War Time’. …Why not send your group over to Camp Devens to see what a military record is like…ask if we can be helpful to them….Then be sure to report your findings to the membership. WAKE UP MASSACHUSETTS! We have not done our part until we have spent every spare moment in serving our country!”
When ill health prevented Mrs. Myers from attending association meetings during the next three years, the meetings would be held in her home. On her eighty sixth birthday, a cake was presented to her made from rationed sugar which was donated by several members of the association.
During this decade:
• The “Job Bank” was conceived and established in 1945.
• Sister Alma of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital taught the first course in Standard Nomenclature of Diseases and Operations. The course was held weekly for fifteen weeks.
• The American College of Surgeons was beginning its survey of hospitals. Medical records would be targets and medical record committees began emerging.
• Duplicating machines made their appearance in hospitals thereby reducing the amount of record abstraction done by medical records clerical staff.
• Massachusetts was congratulated by AAMRL for being among the “firsts” in cooperation and involvement with the national association.
Past Presidents of the 1940’s:
1949 – 1951 Edith Bayers, RRL
1946 – 1949 Bernice Lally, RRL
1944 – 1946 Sister Elizabeth Marie, RRL
1942 – 1944 Frances Siffin, RRL
1937 – 1942 Estell Ord, RRL