The Foundation’s History Begins with Portland Osteopathic Hospital
In an article from the Foundation Newsletter of June, 1988, Executive Director David Rianda met with Ira J. Neher DO, who was one of the Founders of Portland Osteopathic Hospital, established downtown in May 1944. The article, available here, is a wonderful story about Dr. Neher and osteopathic medicine in Oregon during the first half of the 20th century.
Starting a practice in 1930 was quite frustrating for Dr. Neher. Oregon passed a law in 1917 that prevented DOs from having a medical licence. Although the law was repealed in 1927, the country was in the middle of a depression and their were very few DOs in Oregon. For the first years of his practice, Dr. Neher had what he called “semi-staff hospital privileges” at hospitals without security. In 1940, he was granted limited privileges at Portland General Hospital, but he grew increasingly frustrated as more restrictions were placed on him.
It was not uncommon for Dr. Neher and other DOs to have their prescriptions seized by the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners in an attempt to prove their were practicing medicine illegally. Finally, Dr. Neher, Leonard Purkey DO, and William Hands DO decided to establish an osteopathic hospital in Portland.
Dr. Hinds was a Hillsboro physician who was successfully making penicillin in his home. The general public had very limited access to the drug as it was being used almost exclusively in the war effort. But he needed a place to use the drug intravenously, and lacking any other hospital privileges, he joined with Drs. Neher and Purkey. Portland Osteopathic Hospital was born.
You can learn more about Dr. Purkey and see his 1921 diploma from The College of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, which hangs in the Foundation office, at https://www.nwosteo.org/what-is-a-do/purkey-documents/.