Health care in Fresno was greatly enhanced in 1891 with the arrival of an innovative husband-and-wife doctor team, George A. and Jessie D. Hare.
They met as medical students at the University of Michigan. Jessie Hare was one of the nation’s first female physicians.
After working at the famed Battle Creek, Mich., sanitarium, they moved to Fresno for warm weather. They opened a sanitarium — an early day hospital — stressing therapy along with rehabilitation and treatment.
At first the sanitarium was at the corner of N and Mariposa streets. In 1892, they moved to a large Victorian house on the northwest corner of K (Van Ness) and Stanislaus streets. They called it Dr. Hare’s Private Sanitarium.
They started the first accredited nurses training program and what’s thought to be the first operating room in Fresno. In 1897, George Hare pioneered the use of X-rays in the Valley, using homemade equipment. One that he took in 1903, with a 30-minute exposure, remains at the Fresno-Madera Medical Society, showing a bullet lodged in a patient’s shoulder.
The Hares stressed emotional well-being and healthful living. Patients often traveled great distances, even from other states, for their care.
In 1904 they closed the sanitarium after they were called to Washington, D.C., to set up another sanitarium (now Washington Adventist Hospital.) George Hare was a delegate to the International Medical Congress in Lisbon, Portugal.
Devout Seventh-day Adventists, they turned down a dinner invitation from the king of Portugal because the dinner was on Saturday, their Sabbath. George Hare also passed on a chance to accompany Theodore Roosevelt on one of his presidential campaigns because of the need to discuss financial terms on Saturdays.
The Hares returned to Fresno in 1906 and resumed their practice. In 1914, they built a Craftsman bungalow home and an office building at 815 E. McKinley, where they lived and worked.
George Hare became president of the American Academy of Medicine in 1915. After years of high radiation doses from early X-ray technology, he died at age 76 of bone cancer. Jessie Hare continued practicing a few years, and died at age 93.
The site of the old Dr. Hare’s Private Sanitarium is now in the parking lot of the closed Fresno Metropolitan Museum.