In the early days on the Colorado frontier, women took care of family and neighbors because accepting that “we’re all in this together” was the only realistic survival strategy—on the high plains, along the Front Range, in the mountain towns, and on the Western Slope.
As dangerous occupations became fundamental to Colorado’s economy, if they were injured or got sick there was no one to care for the young men who worked as miners, steel workers, cowboys, and railroad construction workers in remote parts of Colorado.
So physicians, surgeons, nurses, Catholic Sisters, Reform and Orthodox Jews, Protestants, and other humanitarians established hospitals and—when Colorado became a mecca for people with tuberculosis—sanatoriums. Those pioneers and the communities they served created our community-based humanitarian healthcare tradition.
These stories about our Wild West heritage honor the legacy of our 19th-century healthcare pioneers and will inspire and entertain 21st-century readers. Because we can be inspired only if we understand the facts—and because facts are more likely to be understood when presented in context—this chronology includes national and international developments that establish an indispensable frame of reference for understanding how our pioneers created the local-community-based healthcare system that we’ve inherited.