Arnold H. Einhorn

Dr. Arnold H. Einhorn

Faculty: Emeriti

Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics

Arnold H. Einhorn was born in 1923 in Antwerp, Belgium. He and his family were forced to flee to France during the German invasion in 1940, where they were allowed to live as refugees for several months before being forced into an internment camp and then transferred to Rivesaltes, a French concentration camp. 

Einhorn and his family were liberated from the camp in 1941 and moved to Montpellier, where Einhorn earned his baccalaureate. Facing discrimination and unable to continue studying in Monpellier, Einhorn joined the Resistance. As part of the Jewish Underground within the French Resistance, Einhorn helped to smuggle people from one zone to another, and assisted families in attaining false papers until he was snitched on by a local peasant. After that, Einhorn recalls, his chief told him, “‘we can't use you anymore, but if you want to be a guinea pig, we have a new pass road to Spain." Einhorn accepted and began to pass back and forth over the Pyrenees with false papers. He recalls, “I was completely unaware what I was doing - how dangerous it was." 

Einhorn was caught in Spain and detained in jail for fifteen days before being put in another camp, where he remained until American Joint Distribution Committee assisted in his release in 1943. After that experience, Einhorn was determined to join the army, but was unable to join the armed services in his native Belgium, ostensibly because of a lack of documentation. He recalls, “When I came there they said, 'You don't have any papers.' I said, ‘Papers? Who's got papers?’ I’d been living for two years on false papers.” Einhorn decided to sail to Haifa and joined the British Royal Army Service Corps instead. He served for three years in Italy, Egypt, Holland, and France.

Einhorn recounts, “when I was discharged, I had no money, and I came to Paris.”  He decided to pursue medicine at the René Descartes School of Medicine at the University of Paris, Sorbonne. In school, Einhorn wound up in the elite academic track. He describes the process of getting into the elite track as a "terribly difficult national competition" with only 200 people a year being accepted.

In the elite academic track, Einhorn concentrated mostly on pediatrics, with focuses on pediatric diseases and pediatric surgery. After attaining his M.D. and completing residencies at the Hôpital des Enfants Malades at the Hôpital Claude Bernard for Infectious Diseases, he chose to leave France explaining, “I did it because I felt that maybe being Jewish I might not get to the academic top.” Einhorn decided to immigrate to America to pursue teaching at a University level, and arrived in New York on Bastille Day (July 14th) in 1954.

Einhorn recalls, "I had a very bad first experience in America because I went to a place in the South Bronx that nobody else wanted to go.” He describes Lincoln Hospital in those days as "a slaughterhouse. They had no attendings…but they had patients." On the strength of his recommendations from his time in Paris, Einhorn soon obtained a pediatric residency at Bronx University hospital, and quickly became chief resident. Einhorn was the only foreign chief resident they had, he explains, “because at that time people thought at the time anything that's not American [was not as good.]”  

Einhorn was disturbed by the proximity and disparity of quality between the two hospitals, and approached his boss, Henry Barnett, about it. “I said, how can you tolerate to have two miles down the road a place that shouldn't exist [anywhere]?” Einhorn suggested to Barnett that he create a big brother system and make Lincoln Hospital an affiliate of Bronx University Hospital. Later, when Einhorn had been forced to go to NYU to get an American degree because of corruption in the system (an individual demanding bribes from practitioners with foreign degrees was later sentenced to seven years in jail), his old boss from Einstein Hospital called him up in the middle of the night. Barnett explained that he had been at a party, and told Einhorn, '"The Commissioner of Health came to Einstein begging ‘something should be done,’” and Barnett told him, “‘one of my residents keep on saying it’s a shame what we’re doing here - the richest country in the world..." Einhorn’s initial suggestion that all city hospitals affiliate with Universities was discussed and adopted, and Einhorn was appointed as the Director of Lincoln Hospital.  

Einhorn recalls, “I made a success out of it. When I came in, there was not one attending." As Pediatrician-in-Chief and Residency Program Director he initiated rotations of interns, and “was day and night there.” During his time there, he recalls he received surprise visits from both the mayor and the commissioner of health to verify that all of the good things they were hearing were true. In 1962, he created the first pediatric home care program in the country and funded it from his own salary. He also created a pediatric intensive care unit in 1969 and did extensive community outreach in both English and Spanish.  At the same time, Einhorn held a full time faculty position at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and attained tenure as Professor of Pediatrics in 1970. Einhorn remained at Einstein for twenty years.

In 1978 Einhorn left New York to join the faculty of the George Washington School of Medicine and to serve as the Chairman of Pediatric Medicine at the Children’s National Medical Center. During his time at the CNMC, he also served as Pediatrician-in-Chief, Pediatric Residency Program Director, and Coordinator of Senior GWU Student Pediatric Curriculum and an additional four years as Professor of Pediatrics and Senior Attending Pediatrician. Einhorn strove to create excellent work conditions of the staff at CNMC. He sought to hire collegial people and introduced policies such as paternity leave, and compensation for scholarly travel and research.

At George Washington University, and later at Georgetown as well, Einhorn made sure that his students saw each patient as a person and not just a case study. In total, Einhorn estimates that in his fifty years in academia, he trained around 1,000 pediatricians. Einhorn’s work focuses on the clinical toxicology and ecology of childhood, and in addition to publishing many different journal articles, he is the co-editor of the 14th and 15th editions of the widely respected textbook Pediatrics.

In retirement, Einhorn is working on updating lectures from his storied career, and in co-operation with GW is looking toward digitizing the 60,000 slides he amassed in his time teaching. A lecture series in his honor created in 1992 by the CNMC House Staff and Faculty, the Einhorn Annual Lecture, is ongoing.

Education

B.S. equivalent, Sarbonne
M.D., University of Paris, René Descartes, 1954

Audio Clip from Interview