With full-page newspaper advertisements and dramatic television commercials featuring specialty hospitals and their offerings these days, it’s hard to imagine there was once a time when a newspaper advertisement for a hospital was just the name and location.
Dr. F.K. Camp, founder of Wesley Hospital, pioneered the use of display advertising for hospitals.
In the August 1911 edition of The Oklahoman, a display advertisement shows the building and announces the opening of Wesley Hospital in the Herskowitz Building on Broadway and Grand.
Camp and his wife had established Wesley Hospital on two floors of the Herskowitz Building. But by December 1911, he had purchased an apartment house at 12th and Harvey and remodeled it into a hospital “second to none in the state. Operating room equipment the best money can buy. Beds, from $10 to $35 per week. Excellent nursing. An ambulance will meet trains when requested.”
The ads for the new Wesley Hospital location would show a photograph of the hospital and provide information about the hospital improvements and amenities.
The doctor and his wife owned and managed the hospital until 1919 when it was bought by a group led by Dr. A.L. Blesh and renamed the Hospital of the Oklahoma City Clinic.
On Aug. 10, 1919, The Oklahoman published an announcement about the hospital’s sale and Dr. Camp’s retirement. It also mentioned Camp’s advertising success:
“Dr. Camp’s advertising campaign, which was launched several years ago to popularize Wesley Hospital, was so successful that he became known nationally as the man who had made a success with advertising in a field where the ethics of the profession had long held against the use of display space in connection with the business. Dr. Camp was a pioneer in advertising a hospital. His methods were discussed by members of the profession throughout the country. Many hospitals in the large cities of the nation followed Dr. Camp’s lead.”
Camp was not through initiating innovations, however.
When he and his wife retired to California, they bought the already historic Brookdale Lodge, built in 1870 near Santa Cruz.
While searching the Internet trying to discover what Dr. Camp’s initials stood for, I discovered he was responsible for creating a landmark in the lodge that still exists.
The lodge, now known as the Brookdale Inn & Spa with the slogan, A River Runs Through It, has been closed due to financial problems since January 2011.
Its restaurant, called the Brookroom, was built so the natural brook on the property would run through the 200-seat dining room, complete with trees and boulders amid the tables and chairs.
The Brookroom was Dr. Camp’s creation, and for some 60 years after his death, the Brookroom was still a popular California destination, even featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Camp’s Oklahoma City legacy still stands, too.
Old Wesley Hospital became Presbyterian Hospital, now a part of the OU Medical Center. And the old hospital building on 12th and Harvey is now the Wesley Village Retirement Community.