Greater Baltimore Medical Center
"An Interview with Warren Wurzbacher, MD"

Warren Wurzbacher, MD's Story

“I hear you delivered the second baby.”

Dr. Wurzbacher: “Well that’s what we think. We’re pretty sure we did, but we both had trouble finding the obstetrical department when we had a patient and they were and then when we found it, we noticed that there were two names on the board and I think I asked ‘Are there any other patients in labor here?’ and they said no, just your two patients and so I thought to myself it would kind of be neat if we were the first ones, if my patient and I were the first ones to deliver a patient in the new building facilities. And I think I just missed it by several hours I’m not sure who was first, but it could have been Jack Savage or Bill Englehart. I think we might have been third, definitely not the first. But we took a run at it and it started to roll at first and we went rapidly on and on and on.

Now, they put the doors on wrong in the delivery room, and they didn’t discover it until they had to use them. And you had to scrub up on a sink outside the delivery room, and then get your hands covered with a towel and get inside the door to the delivery table. You had to have somebody open the door for you and then shut the door took a few minutes. It never was a big problem, but we still felt that it was an inconvenience. After that they modified the door so that they swung open the proper way simply by changing the hinges on one side. Otherwise the building and the facilities were perfect. I think I remember Jack Savage or Bill Englehart who was responsible for that.

The second delivery – the obstetrician was me, I have no idea who that patient was. But I thought it might be noted someplace but in any event, this is a marvelous place to have a baby, and then they came along and, I can’t say the word ‘goofed it up,’ but they came along and let a lot of people into supposedly sterile atmosphere of the delivery room. I liked it better the other way. But, apparently, advertising sells and people who wanted to have a really complete home care delivery can now have it. However, they better have a good backup if at home they get in trouble they need someplace to go immediately and have another doctor who can handle emergencies better than the midwives can come in and take over. And that’s not too hard, but it’s a little scary if you don’t have a backup in there to call on immediately. I think they only had one room out of four reserved for c-sections and emergencies which seemed to work out fine. But, it sure was nice to have a doctor who first of all hopefully could do anything he needed to and secondly get things accomplished quickly and not wait for the doctors to take a cab and come to the hospital.

But in any event we somehow worked it out. But the public feeling to have some semblance of order and they suggested that if you don’t push too hard it will work out, and it did, so an awful lot of people and their families and their pets and their entire menagerie of people can come in and sit and watch the delivery. I have done so many births of a child and I still find it magical, and I understand people’s curiosity – but you want to be able to move quickly if you have to and that way for the other doctor to get a cab and come over. It has worked out beautifully – not only for this hospital, but the word spread that if you want your baby delivered in a hospital setting, you can do that here and you can have a delivery that pretty much suits your way and your doctor’s way. Who could ask for more?”

“As part of the 50th anniversary, we’re collecting stories – Jenny wanted to make sure we had yours. This is a big deal, we haven’t been able to talk to too many people who were here when the hospital opened.”

Dr. Wurzbacher: “Well that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. But there were a lot of nurses running around trying to find where are these clean sheets, where are the anesthetic, where’s the ether, we were using either back then a fair amount. But we got it all put together and it makes a nice facility. Thousands and thousands of women have been carefully handled and had their babies carefully delivered. I think anyway.”

“What is your best memory of your career here?”

Dr. Wurzbacher: “Oh, my favorite memory? I suspect that’s probably number one is to be up there first or second, maybe even third or fourth. And, I shouldn’t say that, I’ve often wondered how long it really took to do a cesearean section if everything went real quick, smooth, no problems. So, this one day we started timing the incision – the operation with the incision – and then we closed the incision. And somebody says how long did it take. It took one half hour. I didn’t normally do that because there was normally a little hesitation and trying to find this layer and that layer and this connection to that connection. But this time it was smooth as silk and we do know that if I had to, if it was a primary c-section, and hadn’t had surgery or radiation or surgery or been operated on anything before that I know I could do one in 30 minutes. As I would say, 30 minutes skin to skin. It was a beautiful day and the baby was healthy, and everything turned out real well for the patient and her baby.

It was fun to be in the hierarchy in the beginning of things at this beautiful place. After that it got to be pretty routine. And if you love something, the quicker it gets to be routine the better we all are. And that’s what we did. It doesn’t mean I have to make a speech or show the exact, point out all the layers and what we did next and what we did here and where we opened. I’m not going to do that, but it was neat to be involved in the early part of a procedure and with the ability to cut down the time and still do a beautiful job. I think everybody honestly did that well. So, I’m kind of proud of what we did. I was one of the first, but I wasn’t the only one here. We had a lot of obstetricians that I learned a lot from – I give them an awful lot of credit. They taught me a lot more than I taught them.

Good luck to you. I look forward to reading about the articles and what other people remember about the beginning. You know it all started with Women’s Hospital joining up with Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat over on Eutaw Street, and then man did this blossom from there. This is a great, great hospital.”

“Thank you so much for talking to us!”

Dr. Wurzbacher: “Thank you, it was my pleasure. Good luck to you.”

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