ORANGE COUNTY UROLOGICAL SOCIETY HISTORY
By: Joseph Hart, MD
Orange County’s national prominence began in the distant past when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo anchored at Catalina Island on October 7, 1542 and claimed the lands lying in the east for the King of Spain. The Lands were then occupied by various tribes of indigenous Indians who were described by Don Gaspar de Portola during his travels of discovery in 1769. Although Portola walked on beyond Orange County, two of his soldiers returned to stay. By 1810, Jose Antonia Yorba and Juan Pablo Peralta received a Spanish grant of land entitled Rancho Santiago de Santa Anan that embraced most of today’s Orange County. The decline of the missions had already begun with Mexico’s independence from Spain and the loss of Spanish financial assistance when Orange County farming and trade were described by Henry Dana in 1835. Medicine then, as elsewhere, consisted of folk remedies with no hospitals or practicing physicians. By 1889, the County of Orange was formed. There were three incorporated towns and fourteen physicians. These pioneers joined together to promote the ideals of medicine through the formation of the Orange County Medical Association. There were still no hospitals to serve the rural population of 19,000.
Meanwhile, spectacular medical advances were taking place elsewhere. The first successful nephrectomy was performed by Gustav Simon in 1869, but did not become practical until Roentgen’s X-ray in 1895 permitted pyelographic diagnosis of renal disease and function studies of the opposite kidney became available. Inspection of the female bladder through an urethrocystic speculum by Segalas in 1820 led to the Desormeux endoscope that illuminated the bladder interior by a reflected turpentine and alcohol flame in 1853. The prototype of the modern cystoscope was invented by Nitze illuminated by a platinum wire electrically heated to become incandescent. The wire’s extremely short lifespan was a problem soon to be answered by Edison’s carbon filament light bulb in 1890. By 1896, miniaturization of the telescope and the creation of a small, easily replaceable bulb by Leiter, issued in the modern age of Urology.
But many years were to elapse before Urology as a surgical specialty replaced the 19th century description of our specialty as Genitourinary Diseases and Venereology. The change toward surgery was gradual but was made a major emphasis by E.L. Keyes with the formation of the AAGUS in 1886 and Ramon Guiteras at the time of formation of the AUA in 1902. Syphillology gradually shifted to Dermatology, but Dr. Adrian Zorgniotti Recounted being in charge of a 12 bed venereal ward during his residency in the early 1950’s.
Centralized health care dawned in Orange County in 1902 with the opening of a twelve room Santa Ana Valley Hospital followed shortly by the Fullerton Hospital in 1902. The hospital quickly outgrew its bounds and was enlarged and reopened as the Santa Ana Hospital in 1914 with forty-five beds. A nursing school opened there in 1915 continuing under various names until today. The first physician to describe himself as a Urologist was W.H. Wickett in 1917 upon co-founding the Johson-Wickett Clinic. He had graduated from USC Medical School and was licensed to practice in California in 1907. He began general practice in Fullerton until limiting his practice to Urology upon opening the Clinic.
Orange County grew slowly and so did the number of physicians. By 1940, there were 117 physicians but very few urologists. With the onset of World War II, many Orange County physicians entered the military service joining thousands of others from across the country. Many of them were stationed at the Santa Ana Army Air Base and other Orange County military installations. The doctors liked what they saw in Orange County and they stayed, doubling the physician population in only five years after the War. The influx of specialists began as well and Orange County’s first urologist se up an office in Santa Ana in 1935. Dr. John P. Davis graduated from Rush Medical College in 1927. Going to the Newman Clinic in Shattuck, Oklahoma from 1928-1935, he took additional training in Urology and general surgery. He began practice in Urology in the old Dr. Maroon Building at 809 N. Main Street with his Pediatrician wife, Dr. Stella Davis. Dr. Davis’ solo status was soon altered by the arrival of Dr. James Herring, Dr. Carl Pearlman from Nova Scotia and Dr. Fred Hunt from Stanford.
Thousands of physicians had returned from the War anxious to continue their careers and their training. The war had brought an emphasis on specialization and America was graduating record-setting numbers of Urologists from universities across the nation. Several of them made Orange County their destination. Dr. Guy Biagiotti from Ohio, Dr. Joe Bush from Iowa, Dr. john Mackey from Missouri, Dr. Murray Russell from New York, Dr. Harold Wanless from Toronto, Canada and Dr. Richard Wineland from Michigan. In addition, Dr. Charles Deeks, Dr. Wallace Gerrie and Dr. Clifford Schmiesing came form California.
By 1959, Orange County was served by fourteen Urologists and a need from an organization to promote continuing medical education consultation and socialization became recognized. Dr. Jay Longley and Dr. John Mackey discussed the formation of such an Association with Dr. Earl Nation at a Western Section AUA meeting in Monterey. The fruits of that discussion were to result in a letter of proposal to Orange County Urologists by Dr. Longley on June 1, 1959. The first organizational meeting took place on June 17, 1959 at Dr. Longley’s home in Corona Del Mar. In the tradition of the first organizational meeting of the AUA at the Frei Robber, a wine house, food and wine were a part of that meeting as they have continued to be a part of our Scientific Assemblies ever since. Momentum for the Association gradually gathered and a Constitution and Bylaws were presented to the OCMA June 21, 1962. An organizational meeting held at Hoag Hospital Library July 15, 1962 recommended John Davis President, Fred Hunt Vice President and Jay Longley Secretary/Treasurer.
The first meeting of the Orange County Urologic Society was held November 29, 1962 at the OCMA Building, newly constructed for $280,000 and containing 13,000 sq. ft. Members present were Harold Wanless, Fred Hunt, John Davis, Murray Russell, Carl Pearlman, and Jay Jongley. Recommendations of the Formative Committee were accepted and Dr. John Davis became President pro tem. Charter members were Davis, Deeks, Wanless, Russell, Pearlman, Mackey, Gerrie, Longley, Bush, Hunt, Schmiesing, Wineland, and Biagiotti. The President named four standing committees: Accounting – Longley and Gerrie, Membership – Pearlman, Wanless and Wineland, Executive – Davis, Hunt, Longley and Russell, Program – Fred Hunt.
The Scientific purpose of the organization was established early and the first Scientific Session was conducted by UCLA’s Fred Smith discussing “Pseudohermaphroditismn” on May12, 1964 followed by Cleveland Clinic’s William Engel presenting “Some Dramatic Responses to Endocrine Therapy of Cancer of the Prostate” on December 8, 1964. Less than two weeks later, founding President John Davis passed away from cancer having continued practice until the last six weeks of his life.
Over the next six years, OCUS brought major new advances in Urology to its membership with Scientific Sessions held two or three times a year presenting information on Impotence, Dialysis, Hypospadias, Angiography, Renal Transplantation, Radiation Therapy and Surgery of the Solitary Kidney. Following a two year lapse in Society activities, OCUS was revitalized in 1972 by a vigorous team of Urologists, Drs. Dicus, Hart, Prince and Schmiesling. Membership was extended to all practicing Urologist and an aggressive campaign to recruit members resulted in twenty-four additional members to the Society in 1973. The Scientific sessions were expanded to five to ten per year and Dr. Schmiesing presided over presentations by Dr. Otis and Dr. Martin, UC Irvine, Dr. Gittes, UC San Diego, Dr. Utz, Mayo Clinic, Dr. Lytton, Yale, and Dr. Krantz, University of Kansas.
Within three years, OCUS membership included all practicing Orange county Urologists in additions to corresponding membership from Los Angeles County and Riverside County Urologists. We were then the fifth largest Urological Society in America. Dr. Martin’s Urology residents from UC Irvine and Dr. Hadley’s Urology residents from Loma Linda University routinely attended and conducted an annual resident’s Essay/Research Scientific Session. Sequential Presidents were Dr. Howard Walstreicher, Dr. Guy Biagiotti, Dr. Jerry Miller, Dr. Donald Dicus, Dr. John Davis, Dr. Joseph Hart and Dr. Herbert Schwarz. Each contributed to an astonishing decade of advance for OCUS.
Early meetings during this period were conducted at a variety of locations generally selected on the basis of the best price for the food and wine. Area hotels, hospital conference rooms, OCMA Banquet room, area restaurants and the ever-popular Dick Darling’s Silver Slipper Supper Club. During the early 80’s, the burgeoning membership and activities of the OCMA had burst undertaken. A major improvement was contracting food services through Turnip Rose Co, the county’s finest caterer. Since then, OCUS meetings have been conducted at the OCMA building whenever possible.
The year 1980 saw the expansion of OCUS continuing medical education activities for members to Post Graduate Seminars open to all physicians and cosponsored by the Western Section AUA. The first Postgraduate Course was “The Urologist and Sexuality” directed over four days at the Disneyland Hotel by Dr. Joseph Hart. August 14-17, 1980. “Uroradiology” at South Coast Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa October 2, 1981 was co-directed by Dr. Herbert Schwarz, Dr. Donald Martin and Dr. John Prince. An OCUS “Medical Seminar at Sea” from January 13-24, 1982 on the Golden Odyssey took participants through the Panama Canal to the Mexican Riviera, the Caribbean and South America. Faculty members Dr. George Drach and Dr. Dave Paulson conducted the Seminar directed by Dr. John Prince. “Comprehensive Care of Genitourinary Trauma” on November 5, 1982 at the Irvine Registry Hotel was directed by Dr. Don Martin.
The Decade of the 80’s also witnessed the increasing impact of legal and socioeconomic issues on all physicians. OCUS formed a Urological Consultation and Defense Committee to serve its members. It became rapidly apparent that the needs of our County Urologists were the same as those throughout the State. Discussions about the formation of a socioeconomic organization to inform and represent California Urologists were conducted by Dr. Don Dicus and Dr. John Prince. Consultation with Western Section officers and others led to the creation of the California Urological Association with Drs. Dicus and Prince among its first officers. The seed planted by OCUS members grew and flourished into the nation’s only State Urological socioeconomic arm that now boasts 400 members, 60 percent of the total practicing urologists in the State. Continuing aggressive activities by CUA have included cancellation of onerous requirements for justification of prostatectomy, amendment of a bill criminalizing failure to provide printed therapeutic alternatives to prostate cancer patients, and opposition to physician advertising Board Certification equivalence. A CUA delegate is seated on the Advisory Panel of Urology of the CMA and coordinates with the AUA Key Contact Program in Washington, D.C. Services to members includes a CUA Hotline especially helpful in new CPT and RBRVS problems.
Historically, the participation of the nation’s Urologist in donning the yoke of office responsible for directing health care needs of Americans has been astonishingly higher than our small percentage of all surgeons would suggest. This has held true of OCUS urologist. OCMA presidents have included 6 urologists. The California RVS, formerly a gold standard for determination of fees for service in the State and nation, was co-authorized by an OCUS member. Testimony to the Hsiao Commission on PPRC and RBRVS was given by an OCUS member. The Urologic Advisory Panel CMA chairman and the Urologic Delegate to the CMA Council on Scientific Affairs for the past eight years has been an OCUS member.
After three decades of education and leadership, the OCUS moves confidently toward the 21st century with dedication, commitment, expertise and the exemplary talent of its members continuing problem-solving and service to the health care needs of Orange County residents.
(1) Clinical Urology. Lowsley, O.S., Kirwin, T.J. 1944. Williams and Wilkins Co.
(2) History of Orange County, California. Pleasants, J.E. 1931. J.R. Finnell & Sons.
(3) Newport Bay, A Pioneer History. Meadows, D.C. 1973. Sultana Press.
(4) Orange County Medical History. Ball, C.D. 1926.
(5) Principles and Practice of Urology. Hinman, F. 1937.