Hospital advertising has come a long way since the early 20th century

Mary Phillips digs into the archives of The Oklahoman to find the origins of hospital advertising in the paper.
BY Mary Phillips mphillips@opubco.com Published: October 1, 2012
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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.”