While a current topic of conversation, vaccinations for various ailments have been around for generations. Take this photo of a school vaccination clinic, circa 1950s, at the old Hailey High School Gymnasium. In the center is Dr. Robert H. Wright, a pioneering physician for the Wood River Valley who served the community for 60 years. Joining him at this vaccination clinic are nurses Polly Street, Louise Barr Rathke, Joyce Arrien and volunteer Dorothy Ensign, as well as members of the community.
Dr. Wright moved to Hailey in 1907 to practice medicine. He opened his own practice in 1910, which he operated until 1967. His office was in the W.H. Watt Bank Building in Hailey. Dr. Wright was the first doctor to respond to the North Star Mine in February of 1917 after a devastating avalanche killed 15 and injured another 17.
According to a newspaper article from The Hailey Times, published on April 21, 1955, 221 first and second graders from Blaine County schools received their first dose of the polio vaccination at the school clinic. Dr. Wright was joined by Dr. Grant Hawkes and Dr. John Moritz to administer the inoculations. Local students from Carey, Hailey, Ketchum, Bellevue, Gannett, Triumph, Sun Valley and Picabo were bused to Hailey for their shots. Many local organizations worked to fund this clinic by hosting parties, dances and different carnivals. In 1955, Blaine County collected more than $5,000 dollars during their March of Dimes fundraising efforts.
For more information on Dr. Wright, The North Star Mine Avalanche and other topics, stop by the Jeanne Rodger Lane Center for Regional History’s Betty Olsen Carr Reading Room.