Feđa Fischer-Sartorius

Portrait of F. Fischer-Sartorius provided by KDBZ.

4.3.1901 – 12.9.1990

Asst. Prof. Primarius Feđa Fischer-Sartorius, M.D., Ph.D., made a significant contribution to the development of social pediatrics, organizing children’s health care, and the training of future pediatricians. She is also credited with the creation of the Children’s Hospital in Klaićeva Street, where she established the Center for Maternal and Pediatric Care.

She was born in Ukraine in 1901, and educated in Germany. She pursued medicine in Hamburg before specializing in pediatrics in Münster, after which she stayed on at the university as an assistant professor.

At the age of 36, she moved to Zagreb and took on a position at the Children’s Ambulatorium. Three years later, she moved to Koprivnica to become Head of the School Polyclinic. There, she established the home care service as part of the children’s dispensary.

In 1943, she joined the People’s Liberation Struggle, becoming a medic for the 6th Army Corps. The following year, she became the manager of the Civic Hospital in Psunj and the health official of the People’s Committee of the County of Nova Gradiška.

After the war, she led the Children’s Department of the Zagreb University Hospital Center, before becoming the head of the corresponding department at the Sisters of Charity Hospital. It was on her initiative that a network of institutions dedicated to children’s health care was created. She also initiated a variety of preventative programs. She worked in Belgrade for two years as Head of Administration for Maternal and Pediatric Care of the Public Health Committee of Yugoslavia before returning to Zagreb, where she was appointed Head of Department for the Care for Mothers and Children of the People’s Republic of Croatia.

In the wake of the Second World War, the quality of health care that new mothers and infants received was quite poor, so there was a need for a specialized institution that would provide it. This led to the General Hospital in Klaićeva Street (formerly known as the Sanatorium) being turned into the Children’s Surgical Hospital with Fischer-Sartorius as its director.

With UNICEF’s support, she founded the Center for Maternal and Pediatric Care in 1956. The Center’s mission was to reduce infant mortality and increase the quality of care received by mothers and children. The Center also organized classes for new parents, nurses and midwives, and provided professional development for health care and social service workers all over Croatia. It also supported the efforts of medical field teams to “educate the people on matters of public health.” The success of her collaboration with UNICEF brought her the title of President of the UNICEF Office in Croatia. Additionally, in 1956 she launched the first pediatric journal in Croatia, Bilten Centra za zaštitu majke i djeteta (The Bulletin of the Center for Maternal and Pediatric Care). The journal is still published today, under the title Paediatria Croatica.

Doctor Fischer-Sartorius was Head of the Center until her retirement in 1964. She passed away in 1990.

Hospital for Children in Zagreb, 16 Vjekoslav Klaić Street

The new building of the Center for Maternal and Pediatric Care, designed by Vladimir Turina, was built in 1956 next to the extant 1909 building of the Children's Surgical Hospital (incidentally, designed by Feđa's uncle, Ignjat Fischer). Dr. Fischer-Sartorius was at the helm of both these institutions, first separately (until 1964), and later as a single institution that combined preventative and curative healthcare.