We have quite an array of 19th and early 20th century medical equipment in our collection, much of it used by Dr. G. Alvin Poust of Hughesville (one of the co-founders of Muncy Valley Hospital). The Poust Collection alone has well over 300 items in it, two of which are pictured here: the double immobilization brace, and the charmingly-titled Yankauer Combination Pressure and Suction Outfit. This ingenious device administers ether from one bottle and draws “blood and secretion” into the other, simultaneously cleaning and anesthetizing the patient. It was designed particularly for tonsil and adenoid operations.
Some non-Poust items in our collection include the two pictured surgical kits, both in lovely polished wood cases. The larger kit is for various surgeries and includes a large bone saw and a tourniquet (the brass screw-like device and coiled strap at the top right). A note in the case says it was used by “Dr. Nevins, Montoursville”, probably Dr. John Nevins. The smaller kit, used by Dr. T. A. H. Thornton of Lewisburg, has a very informative note inside: “tools for opening skull”.
Finally, the tall item with the large wheel is a foot-powered dental drill patented in 1891. That’s right: foot-powered. While drills driven by electricity later took their place, the foot-powered variety was still being used in the field during World War II. Something to think about the next time you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair.