Historic 300-Year-Old Thompson House is Site for Learning About Three Centuries of Medicine
STONY BROOK, N.Y., January 5, 2010 – Beginning this January, Stony Brook University medical students will step out of their 21st Century medical training into the garb and ways of the 18th Century to teach elementary students about the history of American medicine from the late 1700’s to today. They will teach through the lens of the life of Dr. Samuel Thompson, a self-educated 18th Century physician, at his home, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s (WMHO) 300-year-old Thompson House.
Developed by WMHO and Stony Brook University Medical Center, the on-site interactive program is designed to spark students’ interest in the fields of science, research and medicine. Called “Medicine: Past, Present and Future,” the program melds the historical expertise of the WMHO staff and knowledge of 21st Century medicine and research via the medical students. While geared toward 4th to 7th grade students, the program can be adapted for adults as well and is available for groups by appointment year-round.
“Stony Brook University is thrilled to take part in celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the Thompson House and the unique educational component that will take place here,” said SBU President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D., who attended the December 16, 2009, celebration and event, along with SBUMC physicians, staff, medical students, as well local government officials and program supporters. All attendees had a chance to experience the program first-hand.
“The collaboration between the Ward Melville Heritage Organization and Stony Brook University on this initiative is a natural one that combines a rich local history story with the education of science and medicine,” added Dr. Stanley.
SBU medical students will teach the 1.5 hour program in the first person as Dr. Thompson’s apprentice. Children are first brought back to 1789, when Dr. Thompson practiced medicine and in his kitchen used a mortar and pestle to grind an assortment of herbs as medicines. The other rooms of the Thompson House (c. 1709) are used to bring students through the centuries to learn about how medical practices changed.
Students also become part of the program as “patients” of the apprentice while learning about illnesses of the past, such as Yellow Fever and Consumption. Dr. Thompson’s apprentice demonstrates how a broken leg was set on one of the “patients” in 1789 and how the techniques change through the centuries, culminating in the current methods by way of a demonstration on Smart Board Technology in the 21st Century Room.
“This program is going to be a fun way give back to the Long Island community, while at the same time learn about the history of medicine and how we as a society have evolved to practice the way we do today,” says Pyranka Relan, second-year medical student and one of approximately 10 SBU med students who will serve as program educators.
Enhancing the educational program is information about the life of Dr. Thompson himself. The WMHO researched his life and discovered he was an American patriot, lived in the house in the 1700s, practiced as a physician and may have even treated some member of George Washington’s Spy Ring. Dr. Thompson was also a farmer and prestigious leader of the Setauket community. His journal (c.1800) and cash receipt book reveal other details of his life, including his inventory of good purchased from around the world and what he charged for his services.
Coinciding with the 300th Anniversary celebration of the Thompson House and program launch was a check presentation by the WMHO to SBUMC for $50,000, proceeds from the 2009 Walk for Beauty, Walk for Life. Total funding from the annual event hit the $1 million mark after the 2009 proceeds. Co-sponsored by the WMHO and SBUMC, the Walk for Beauty raises funds for breast and prostate cancer research.
Established in 1971, the Stony Brook University School of Medicine includes 25 academic departments centered on education, training, and advancing scientific research. The primary mission of the School is to educate caring and skilled physicians. The school’s graduate and specialty training programs are designed to educate medical specialists and investigators in the biomedical and clinical sciences to be well-prepared to advance the frontiers of research, clinical practice and education.
Stony Brook University Medical Center received a check for $50,000 from the Ward Melville Heritage Organization during the 300th Anniversary Celebration of the historic Thompson House and launch of the WHMO/SBUMC educational program “Medicine: Past, Present and Future.” With the funding, WMHO proceeds for breast and prostate cancer research at SBUMC have reached $1 million. Pictured, from left: Yvonne Spreckels, Director, Community Relations, SBUMC; Theodore Gabig, M.D., Acting Director, SBU Cancer Center; Rose Cardin, R.N., Associate Director of Nursing and Service Line Administrator for Cancer Services, SBUMC; Kara Hahn, President, Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook; Gloria Rocchio, President, WMHO; Anna Kerekes, WMHO Trustee; Olga Belleau, V.P., State Bank of Long Island; and Michael Hayman, M.D., Associate Director for Research, SBU Cancer Center.