Valpo's link to the invention of the hypodermic needle
Conrad and Catherine Bloch settled in Valparaiso and became early merchants of the city. They constructed their large double-pile brick home in the Italianate style in about 1873. Luther Bloch Jr., a grandson, leased the building to Dr. Harvey Cook who turned the building into a hospital in about 1923. Dr. Cook was a resident of Valparaiso living just blocks from the hospital at Morgan and Chicago Streets. The hospital closed in the early 1930s.
Harvey Samuel Cook, born in Gilman, Illinois in 1888, is best known for his contribution to medicine by his invention of the hypodermic syringe. Cook, while an Army-medic during World War I and in need of local anesthetic as quickly as possible, developed the idea for the syringe by drawing inspiration from the cartridges used by Army riflemen. Cook created brass syringes with double-pointed needles which locked into place; he cut glass tubes and rubber pencil erasers which were used for stoppers. Cook filed an application for patent of the hypodermic syringe on October 21, 1916 and it was patented on June 26, 1917. He branded it as the Cook “Carpule” System of Hypodermic Medication. At this time he was a resident of Worthington, Indiana. Later he moved to Chicago and established Cook Laboratories from which the syringe was produced.
Dr. Cook relocated to Valparaiso, Indiana and established the Valparaiso Hospital and Sanitarium in about 1923. Cook graduated from the Kankakee Conservatory of Music at Kankakee, IL and later attended Valparaiso University for two years. He married Ida Mae Doty in Valparaiso in 1910. He entered the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery and graduated in 1913. He began his medical practice in Gilman, IL, but entered World War I as a medic, receiving the rank of first lieutenant. Cook returned to Valparaiso in 1920 and established his hospital a few years later, but was “forced to give up the venture because of a health breakdown.” Cook served as city health commissioner and city councilman, both positions he resigned from due to his illness. Cook was credited with extensive oversight of the city’s health and was credited with helping the community avoid large scale illness during a major typhoid epidemic in 1933.
Today the former hospital is a single family home again. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.