Gibney as Surgeon-in-Chief: The Earlier Years, 1887–1900


Dr. James Knight's death in 1887 resulted in a change of course for the Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled (renamed the Hospital for Special Surgery in 1940). The Board of Managers appointed Dr. Virgil Pendleton Gibney as the second Surgeon-in-Chief. The hospital's professional staff was expanded with introduction of surgical procedures. Gibney, raised in Kentucky, was trained under Lewis H. Sayre, M.D., a prominent orthopaedic surgeon at Bellevue Hospital. Dr. Gibney introduced the first residency training, expanded the physical plant, and continued to care for the disabled children in the hospital while maintaining a private practice outside the hospital. He was one of the founding members of the American Orthopaedic Association and served as its first president. He was the only member ever to serve as president twice, the second time in 1912.

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  1. 1.

    In today's dollars, $2,444.

  2. 2.

    The name was changed to Transylvania University (1799–1861) and then closed at the beginning of the Civil War.

  3. 3.

    Jacob Riis immigrated from Denmark in 1870 and was confronted with extreme poverty and unemployment until 1877, when he finally found a position in the New York Tribune. Along with other reformers, he brought about change for thousands of immigrants suffering from poverty and disease in New York. He continued his work through photography and became famous for his unique photojournalistic documentary approach for social reform. He died in 1914.

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    In today's dollars, $16.6 billion.


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Correspondence to David B. Levine.

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Levine, D.B. Gibney as Surgeon-in-Chief: The Earlier Years, 1887–1900. HSS Jrnl 2, 95–101 (2006).

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Key words

  • Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled
  • Hospital for Special Surgery
  • William T. Bull
  • William Bradley Coley
  • Virgil P. Gibney
  • John Ridlon
  • James Knight
  • Newton M. Shaffer