Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
Margaret Benson
I received he following story and photos from Margaret Benson in October 2010.

I entered The San on June 14, 1945 and came home June 18, 1948.  I had no coughing, but I was losing weight.  I never felt sick.  I went to a local doctor (Dr. William Conway), who then took x-rays.  He told me I had tuberculosis and would have to go to a sanatorium. 


My cousin contacted a doctor in Indiana, Pa and he made arrangements for me to enter The San. 


I was asked to bring the x-rays (taken by Dr. Conway) to The San. I arrived at The San with about 20 other individuals.  I was treated by Dr. Fusco.  Tuberculosis was not a death sentence. 


You were x-rayed the day you entered The San.  You also had a sputum test daily.


Rest was the number one restriction.  You had to rest in the afternoon from 1:00 pm until 3:00 pm.  There was no talking allowed.  At 8:00 pm you prepared for bed.  You received 8 ounces of whole milk.


Visitors were allowed depending on the condition of the individual.


My TB was in at the breastbone.  Most of the TB cases were in the upper apex of the lung. 


The treatment for TB at that time was called Pneumo Thorax (collapsing the lung).  I will send a picture explaining the procedure.   Dr. Fusco tried the treatment on me and it was unsuccessful.  The treatment could also be done through the stomach, but I refused.


In 1946 arrangements for surgery were made.  I was in Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh.  Dr. Harold Kipp was the doctor who did the three (3) surgeries.  The first surgery was to partially remove seven (7) ribs.  A week later I had to have another surgery.  At this time, they took the rest of the ribs and took the cervical rib (I was born with an extra rib).  I had to keep a 15 lb. weight on the upper right side to keep the lung from expanding at that time. 


In the fall of 1947 a 72 hour culture was taken and showed positive.  I had to go back for the third time to Pittsburgh for more surgery.  Dr. Kipp removed part of the breastbone.  The doctors and nurses said they were glad to see me after the surgery.  They said they almost lost me.  All together I had spent 13 weeks in Pittsburgh.


There was a TB hospital in Hamburg, PA.  You were put on a waiting list.  Sometimes it would take years before they could make arrangements for surgery.


When you were well enough you would be moved from a ward to a cottage.  The cottages had 4 rooms.  To bathe you had to walk to the bath house.  The winters are harsh in this part of the country.  Your hair would be frozen before you made it back to your room in the cottage. 


Margaret Benson



1.  Margaret Benson in a photo taken in 2009.
3.  Reverand Fry


5.  The austere beauty of the san on a winter night.
2.  Starting at the top and going down left to right, the people are:   Sylvia Butler, Unknown, Dorothy James, Margaret Benson by herself, Theresa Cabot, Marge Lutsoviel, Helen Sholtis and Mary Shelton lying down.  
4.  A diagram showing how pneumothorax works to collapse the lung.
6.  Grace Chapel following an ice storm in 1946.