Beacon of Hope: Growth Years
Masur Returns
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Founding Years 1944-1953
Growth Years 1953-1969
Years of Change and Renewal 1969-1993
Footnotes
About the Author

Despite the favorable prognosis for clinical advances and intramural funding, internal obstacles attributable to decentralization forced the hospital to restrict growth in 1957 and shift resources to the development of central services.60 The major problem, which would recur throughout the next two decades, was an acute shortage of nurses. The patient load as of March 1, 1956, required 363 nurses, but only 269 full-time and 19 part-time nurses were on duty, reflecting a turnover rate of two resignations for every three hires.61 Director Shannon went before Congress in February 1956 to explain that full operation — 510 activated beds — would not be reached for another year.62 The actual situation on the wards was more serious, for the average daily census of occupied beds remained below 300 for most of fiscal year 1956.63 The nursing services, at this point organized into a Nursing Department but still responsible to the institutes, were stressed by diagnostic regimens requiring five times as many tests as in general hospitals, and by a mushroom growth in follow-up examinations.64 Seeking a more vigorous response, Dr. Shannon in October reappointed Dr. Masur as Clinical Center director.65

Remembered for his “endearing belligerence,”66 Masur employed a leadership style that was at once strong-willed, pragmatic, and compassionate. During his 13-year tenure as director, he emphasized “traditions of excellence”67 in clinical service to make the Clinical Center a national model. His frequent refrain, “This institution doesn’t follow standards; it sets them,”68 underscored his keen interest in pragmatic solutions to operational problems. Among his early credits were organizing the Clinical Associate alumni program and setting standards for the normal control program. He accurately perceived that a minority of NIH basic scientists resented the priority accorded to clinical applications and avoided participation in Clinical Center activities.69 But he was less interested in achieving a synergy between scientists and clinicians than in building up clinical services and enforcing the discipline that researchers and staff needed to observe in a patient-care environment.70

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