1953 – 200 Women Built a Polio Citadel

1953 – 200 Women Built a Polio Citadel

Announcement Date: September 25, 1953

How 200 Women Built a Polio Citadel


1st Respirator Center for City
Staff Writer.


It was only three years ago when young Jack Martin, an ex-Army officer and rising manufacturer, returned home to Manhattan from a country weekend with a bad cold. Two days later, he entered a hospital. Two days after that he died—of polio.

Again, infantile paralysis had broken a family with the sudden fury of a cyclone.


Memorial To Be Dedicated.


On Oct. 10, at Mount Sinai Hospital a memorial will be dedicated to Jack Martin. The city’s first respirator center and interim quarters will start service—all because Jack Martin had a sister who turned her back on the easy solace of tears and turned her despair into hope for others. The sister is a pretty, auburn-haired mother of three—Mrs. Vita Feldman, of 5 Regent Dr., Lawrence, L. I.

Shortly after Jack’s death, Mrs. Feldman rallied a group of her friends to organize the Jack Martin Polio Fund.


“To see,’ she explains simply, if we could offer some help to stop this disease.”


200 Members.

Now numbering 200, the fund’s membership has spread to New York and Westchester County. All women, the members are mainly mothers for, as Mrs. Feldman, the president, explains: “It is every mother’s hope to be able to conquer it (polio) and play some small part in doing so.”
With Mrs. Feldman, the project became monumental in itself. Every bit of her spare time, all my thinking time,” was spent in raising funds to fight polio. Luncheons, dances, theater parties were organized—all proceeds going to the fund.


A Responsibility.


“As difficult as it is to raise money,” explained Mrs. Feldman, “it’s even more difficult to allocate it to the proper channels. It’s a responsibility. There are a lot of takers, but you don’t want it to go down the drain.”


When $65,000 had been raised, the group turned to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis for advice.

Foundation officials mentioned that there was a need for a respirator center in New York—the nearest are in Boston and Buffalo. The fund officials were excitedly receptive.


Hospital Contacted.


“We started to make that our goal and aspiration,” relates Mrs.Feldman. Mount Sinai Hospital was contacted as a likely location and proved receptive too.

So the center is becoming an actuality on Oct. 10. The Greater New York chapter of the polio foundation reports that it has a waiting list of patients and that similar lists are common at other local chapters in the state and neighboring states. The unit will be supported jointly by the Jack Martin Polio Fund and the local chapter.


Capacity of 42.


The hospital expects to begin in December to add a floor to its Pediatric Pavilion, 100th St. near Madison Ave. for the permanent polio facility, which will have a capacity of 14 respirator or 28 non-respirator cases. Temporary quarters are in a former teaching suite on the second floor of the pediatric annex.


Victim’s Sister Got It Started.

Martin Respirator center of Mount Sinai Hospital—and a spunky sister. She’s not through yet. Fundraising will continue. “And now we’re planning,” she smiled, to do some voluntary work in the hospital.”