Restored Operay Multibeam Surgical Light
Origin: Saint Mary Mercy Hospital, Gary, IN
This restored ceiling-mounted Operay Multibeam Surgical Light by Kurt Wehrmann of Northern Scientific is made of aluminum, brass, copper and steel. This vintage O.R. light is one of the first shadowless surgical lights made for the surgical infirmary, or operating theater of its time. In present day, one can’t help but think of this retro style steampunk surgical light as something out of a Sci-Fi or Frankenstein horror movie.
History: About fifty years after the use of surgical amphitheaters such as the Ether Dome in Boston, Massachusetts, the Ohio Chemical and Manufacturing Company of Madison, Wisconsin produced the Operay Multibeam, a shadowless surgical lighting fixture during the first part of the 20th century. Ohio’s customers were primarily sanatoriums with surgical infirmaries. It was during this era that hospitals were also known as sanatoriums (also spelled sanitorium and sanitarium) have different meanings depending on the region of residence. Historically for Americans and most European countries it is a medical facility for long-term illness, most typically associated with treatment of tuberculosis (TB) before antibiotics. A distinction is sometimes made between “sanitarium” (a kind of health resort) and “sanatorium” (a hospital).
This particular model of the Operay Multibeam consists of a central light-emitting orb which is rated for two 200 watt lamps. Inside this orb are six 3-inch concave mirrors which reflect the light through seven convex lenses. Those lenses magnify the light, where it is then reflected off six 8-inch remotely mounted mirrors. The reflected light — when combined with light generated from a fixture located on the top of the aluminum orb — reduces the interference of shadows during surgery. Focus control is operated by turning an aluminum knob which extends down from a gear box located near the copper counter weight. By turning the knob either clockwise or counter clockwise the surgical staff can adjust the tilt of the mirrors and orb. Depth of field adjustment is made by lifting or lowering the copper counter weight. Lateral tilt can also be achieved by adjusting the friction tension located within a centrally located knuckle consisting of aluminum and brass fittings.