Early members of the MTS medical staff


Among the physicians who worked for the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium in its early years were a pair of brothers, Dr. Ellis B. Freilich (left) and Dr. Harry H. Freilich (right).

Dr. Ellis Freilich was first to work for the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium, as a member of the part-time dispensary staff. Prior to the opening of the Sanitarium on Bryn Mawr, the city agency charged with the management of TB was also known as the City of Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. This agency oversaw eight dispensaries that served as free out-patient neighborhood clinics. Each clinic was open for 6 hours a week and a total staff of 37 physicians cared for all clinics. In 1915 alone, they treated nearly 22,000 patients.

 In 1917, the city decided to open all the dispensaries for full-time service (38 hours) seven days a week to meeting the increasing number of patients. The Sanitarium on Bryn Mawr had opened and was fully occupied, but  was “inadequate to house more than one-sixtieth of the know tuberculosis cases in the city. . . .” (1) 

At that time, Dr. Ellis Freilich and five other part-time staff members were the first to be certified for full-time employment. Dr. Harry Freilich was in a group of 28 physicians who were newly hired after passing the exam.

Patients were seen both at the dispensaries and in their homes. Staff physicians alternated between days in the clinic and days in the field, a routine that ensured physicians received adequate fresh air and exercise in the course of treating highly contagious patients. Field work included treatment of patients as well as canvassing the neighborhoods to identify new cases.

In the Monthly Bulletin of the City of Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium dated December  1924, Dr. Ellis Freilich was identified as head physician of the dispensary located at 10 S. Ashland Avenue. Dr. Harry Freilich was the head physician for the dispensary at 5625 S. State Street.

Photographs are courtesy of Chuck Freilich, grandson of Dr. Ellis B. Freilich and great-nephew of Dr. Harry H. Freilich.


1. Monthly Bulletin, City of Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium, October 1917.

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