The mission of the Jeghers Medical Index (JMI) is to maintain and facilitate access to the Harold J. Jeghers, M.D. collection of twentieth century American medical literature. Additionally, the JMI using the educational ideas of Dr. Jeghers advances the use of current medical literature in clinical problem solving. This mission is accomplished through the following activities:
The Jeghers Medical Index (JMI) is a unique collection of articles selected from medical journals and organized into a file system based on medical subjects. This resource of medical information was begun by Harold J. Jeghers, M.D. in the early 1930s and actively maintained throughout his career of over 45 years. Contributions have come from the staff of two medical schools and from St. Vincent Hospital, Worcester, Massachusetts and St. Elizabeth Health Center, Youngstown, Ohio. The JMI contains over one million articles. Today the JMI is located on 2 South at St. Elizabeth Health Center.JMI Indexing System. Articles were evaluated, indexed and added to the file system after cutting them from their journals. Dr. Jeghers developed a personal classification scheme based on terminology corresponding to the everyday medical language of physicians. The articles were read and had one or more subject terms assigned to them. After an article was assigned subject terms it was placed in the corresponding folder of that topic. Each folder contained articles spanning many years. The JMI has over 44,000 folders.
Articles were evaluated, indexed and added to the file system after cutting them from their journals. Dr. Jeghers developed a personal classification scheme based on terminology corresponding to the everyday medical language of physicians. The articles were read and had one or more subject terms assigned to them. After an article was assigned subject terms it was placed in the corresponding folder of that topic. Each folder contained articles spanning many years. The JMI has over 44,000 folders.
Over the years an elaborate cross reference system developed and expanded to include various synonyms for diseases. The system evolved and covered clinical signs, symptoms, syndromes and abnormal laboratory findings. Descriptors were added from the U.S. National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary, Medical Subject Headings, MeSH. Dr. Jeghers continued to expand and develop his system and spent much time demonstrating how to find articles in the JMI. He used his system to answer patient care related questions. See detailed history of the JMI as written by Dr. Jeghers.
In order to preserve the information in deteriorating articles prior to 1965, a scanning project was undertaken in 1997. For the next five years, more than 115,000 articles, consisting of over 1 million pages were scanned, indexed and added to an electronic database now searchable by author, title, journal and keywords on this website. Resources for the project came in part from the St. Elizabeth Development Foundation, Youngstown, Ohio.
Dr. Jeghers saw the need for continuing self-education in order to keep up with advances in medicine and felt this goal could be achieved through "disciplined reading". He was convinced that effective medical education evolved from the care of patients. Physicians learn by solving clinical problems. Dr. Jeghers designed the JMI to assist in patient care and teaching. With a few key words or phrases a physician could rapidly retrieve relevant information. This feature made the JMI useful for house staff and medical residents as well as practitioners in a community hospital setting. The JMI has been used to as a model for medical students and house officers in building their personal libraries.
The Jeghers Medical Index contains medical articles from the 1920s to the late 1990s. Leonard P. Caccamo, M.D., a long time advisor to the JMI, was often asked about the value of historical medical articles. He saw a part of American medical history preserved in the JMI and delighted in describing the JMI as a vision of what health care holds for the future.
The JMI is a one of a kind glimpse of the unprecedented progress of health and health care in the 20th century. Dr. Caccamo metaphorically characterized the JMI as a window to the past permitting us to look back on the medical practices and the social fabric of America, ponder the political choices and decisions of those before and see today how those actions reached far beyond the health sector.
Indeed, modern medicine is soundly rooted in 20th century thought. Often starting a JMI discussion, Dr. Caccamo would quip “All that is old is not necessarily mold, and all that is new is not necessarily true”. In the 20th century, revolutionary changes in medicine occurred enhancing the treatments of infectious and chronic diseases, understanding of life at the DNA level and more recently the development of health as an industry. These legacies are revolutionary. Although not occurring overnight and at times not immediately appreciated; they are truly remarkable. Recognizing patterns of medical advancements and their societal, economic and political ramifications through the study of past articles is central to medical history and a guide to the future.
As we study the American past in light of medicine today, we can not but wonder if health has become a defining dimension of American society. Improving health is perhaps as great as ever as we enter the 21st century. Today we enter into a wellness revolution wherein we look at medicine as products and services creating health. Should that be the case, will federal policies, national economy, the entrepreneurial spirit or competition within the wellness industry widen or lessen the health gap within American society? How should public and private wellness industries be regulated in a market environment?Will the past be there to guide us in answering the tough questions and help us define the values of health shaping our society to come? The JMI in part fulfills that vision!