Monday, June 11, 2001

Part of hospital demolished

Pavilion J housed cancer experiment

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A section of University Hospital where more than 90 cancer patients were involved in a Cold War radiation experiment has been torn down to make way for a parking garage.

        Pavilions H and J of Cincinnati's General Hospital — now University Hospital — were demolished recently. The basement of Pavilion J was where, from 1960 through 1972, cancer patients were subjected to whole-body radiation treatments in military-funded experiments.

        The new $18 million, eight-level parking garage will also house a loading dock and a warehouse for medical supplies. The garage is expected to be complete by January 2003.

        The experiment, led by Dr. Eugene Saenger, subjected mostly late-stage cancer patients to irradiation with a cobalt-60 radiation machine.

        The treatments were offered as pain-relieving treatments, but the data was used to measure how soldiers might be affected by radiation from atomic bombs. For most of the patients, the treatments did not relieve pain; and in 20 cases, the treatments were suspected by some to have hastened deaths.

        In May 1999, families who claimed their relatives were not fully informed of the risks of the experiment won nearly $4 million in a settlement of a class action lawsuit.

        As part of the settlement, the hospital was ordered to place a memorial plaque honoring the patients involved. It was located in a seldom-used courtyard between Pavilions H and J.

        That plaque has since been moved to a nearby courtyard outside University Hospital's outpatient treatment clinic, near an outdoor smoking area.


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