Barlow Respiratory Hospital

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Barlow Respiratory Hospital
Barlow Respiratory Hospital
Barlow Respiratory Hospital is located in Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Barlow Respiratory Hospital
Location in Los Angeles
Location 2000 Stadium Way, Los Angeles, California, United States
Coordinates 34°04′34″N 118°14′53″W / 34.076°N 118.248°W / 34.076; -118.248Coordinates: 34°04′34″N 118°14′53″W / 34.076°N 118.248°W / 34.076; -118.248
Founded 1902
Lists Hospitals in California
Official name Barlow Sanitorium
Designated October 9, 1990[1]
Reference no. 504

The Barlow Respiratory Hospital is a hospital located in the Elysian Park neighborhood of Echo Park, near Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

Originally a tuberculosis sanatorium, Barlow Respiratory Hospital is a long-term acute care facility in Los Angeles that specializes in respiratory diseases and also treats related secondary ailments. The hospital treats approximately 750 patients a year and sets the national benchmark in ventilator weaning at nearly 50%.[2]


The hospital serves an older patient population that suffers from medically complex conditions. 80% of Barlow’s patients are over age 60 and more than half are below the federal poverty level. 80% of its patients are from Los Angeles County while the remaining 20% are admitted from national and international medical facilities. Patients stay at the hospital for an average of 30 days, which is ten times longer than the national average.[3] The patient population is also ethnically diverse and mirrors the diversity of Los Angeles County.


The hospital has four primary treatment programs. Through these programs, it is able to care for conditions that are often associated with respiratory diseases, thus promoting a holistic model of treatment.

Ventilator Weaning Program[edit]

The Ventilator Weaning Program works to aid patients in becoming more independent from ventilators. In 1970 the hospital admitted its first patient for weaning from prolonged mechanical ventilation.[4]

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program[edit]

This program often works in conjunction with the Ventilator Weaning Program. It evaluates and works with patients in bedside classes to teach lifestyle changes and family/caregiver training. In order to evaluate how successful the program is and the health improvement that each patient is experiencing, Functional Independence Measure (FIM) scores are used. These scores indicate a 71% improvement in function for persons graduating from the program.[5]

Wound Care Program[edit]

Many patients entering the hospital have been bedridden for long periods of time. Unfortunately, this often requires specialized care in order to treat the resulting bed wounds.[6]

Chronically criticallyill program[edit]

Many patients not only suffer from respiratory diseases, they also increasingly endure multiple chronic medical ailments. To combat this, the hospital has developed this interdisciplinary program.[7]


Walter Jarvis Barlow founded the Barlow Sanatorium in 1902. He received his MD degree in 1892 from Columbia University. Though he was born and raised in New York, he was forced to move west in search of a dry and sunny climate after contracting tuberculosis in 1895. The sanatorium was founded on 25 acres (10 ha) of meadowland next to the city-owned Elysian Park on Chavez Ravine Road. The location seemed ideal because the surrounding configuration of hills provided for clean air and the neighboring Elysian Park seemed to insure against any future development. The land was purchased for $7,300. Patients were housed in tent cottages that were specifically constructed so that patients would have maximum exposure to fresh air and sunlight; at that time these elements were of primary importance in order to recover from tuberculosis.[8] In the early days of the Barlow Sanatorium patients lived by strict rules; one document read:

" Patients must not expectorate anywhere except in cups provided for that purpose. Cloths are to be used as handkerchiefs and burned morning and evening. Patients must not discuss their ailments or make unnecessary noise. Patients must not put anything hot on glass tables. Lights out at 9 p.m. Cold plunge every morning; hot baths Tuesday and Saturday. Patients are forbidden to throw water or refuse of any kind on the ground. When doctors think them able, every patient must do some work about the Sanatorium or go away. Patients disobeying these rules will be dismissed. "[9]

As the century continued, medical advances made tuberculosis a less serious threat in the United States. Because of this, the tuberculosis sanatorium shifted its focus towards chronic respiratory diseases and secondary related diseases.[10]

The site was named a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1990.[1]


  • 1902 - Founder Walter Jarvis Barlow, M.D., attempting to recover from tuberculosis himself moved west in search of a milder climate. During this year he established Barlow Sanatorium to care for others with tuberculosis.
  • 1925 - The Solano Infirmary, the original hospital structure, burned down, but quick action by the fire department prevented any loss of life. By 1927, the infirmary reopened.
  • 1937 - Dr. Walter Jarvis Barlow, founder of the Barlow Sanatorium, died at the age of 69.[11]
  • 1938 - An official affiliation was forged with the University of Southern California Medical School that continues today.[12][13]
  • 1944 - Effective treatment for tuberculosis was first developed, which brought much promise for those suffering with this disease.[14]
  • 1960s - Barlow Sanatorium transforms into a hospital for chronic respiratory diseases.
  • 1970 - Barlow begins to admit patients for weaning from prolonged mechanical ventilation.
  • 1990 - Barlow Respiratory Research Center was established.[15]
  • 1994 - The Barlow Foundation was incorporated.[16]
  • 1997 - The first satellite facility opened at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier.[2]
  • 2007 - The second satellite facility opened at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys.[2]

Buildings on the campus[edit]

Buildings on campus
The library
The Guildhouse

Barlow Respiratory Hospital is unique in that it maintains a 25-acre campus with cottages, a library, the main hospital, and a community hall. Old chicken coops are still standing on the outskirts of the campus. This unique layout can be attributed to the hospital's history as a tuberculosis sanatorium where patients lived for several years.

Cottages on the campus[edit]

Originally tuberculosis patients lived in tent cottages in order to be constantly exposed to free flowing air. As time went on permanent cottages were added to the campus by various donors. The style of these cottages reflected the popular trends of Los Angeles of the time. The architecture of the bungalows is in the California bungalow style.[17] During World War I many servicemen contracted tuberculosis and were sent to the Barlow Sanatorium. Because of this the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Red Cross built and furnished four four-room cottages for military patients, some of which are still in use today.

The library[edit]

Dedicated to the sanatorium on May 6, 1922, this stucco and red tiled library is still in use today. It was paid for by the Los Angeles Optimists Club and has stained glass windows donated by James Slauson and a second by Mrs. Helena Torrance in memory of her husband, Jared Sidney Torrance. Jared Sidney Torrance had served on Barlow’s Board of Trustees since 1910 as vice president and president. The library underwent renovations in 1992.[18]

The Guildhouse[edit]

The Guildhouse was originally the "Men’s Help" quarters, where the men working in the hospital would live. In 1975 the old building was converted into a gift and plant shop. This was funded by the Barlow Guild, a large group of ex-patients dedicated to philanthropy, and the Guildhouse opened in April of that year.[19]

The hospital[edit]

In 1903, the original hospital of the Barlow Sanatorium was a permanent cottage with 13 rooms, two baths and 12 patient beds. It was built with donations from Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Solano, and was consequently named the Solano Infirmary.[20] In September 1925, the Solano Infirmary burned down. Thankfully, no one died. In 1927 Alfred's wife, Mrs. Ella Brooks Solano, provided for the creation of a new infirmary, the Ella Brooks Solano Infirmary, a building that is still in use as the main hospital today.



  • Finegan, Robert. The Barlow Story An Illustrated History of Barlow Respiratory Hospital 1902-1992. 1992. Crown Printers, San Bernardino, California.

Further reading[edit]

  • Abel, Emily K. Tuberculosis and the Politics of Exclusion: A History of Public Health and Migration to Los Angeles. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0813541761
  • Abel, Emily K. Suffering in the Land of Sunshine: A Los Angeles Illness Narrative. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0813539010

External links[edit]