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Quain, Eric P.

By | Last Modified: January 24, 2018

Doctor Eric Peer Quain was a pioneering medical practitioner, and husband to Doctor Fannie Quain – North Dakota’s first female doctor and revolutionary in her own right. He is best known as one of the founders of Quain and Ramstad Clinic (now part of Sanford Health) and for introducing Novocain to the United States.

Born on August 22, 1870 in Sweden as Eric P. Qven, the future Doctor Quain immigrated to Minnesota at the age of 18 when his mother remarried following the sudden death of his father. 

He completed medical school in 1898 and interned in Saint Paul. Under advisement of a teacher, Quain relocated to Bismarck in June 1899.

He practiced medicine at St. Alexius Hospital before, in 1902, partnering with Niles O. Ramstad to found Quain and Ramstad Clinic, which today is part of Sanford Health. The clinic later affiliated with Bismarck Hospital, where Quain served as chief of staff.

In 1912, Doctor Quain imported the first supply of Novocaine into the United States, introducing it as a local anesthetic.

He was a founder of the American College of Surgeons in 1913.

With the onset of World War I, Quain organized a Red Cross unit in France, which was staffed by volunteer doctors and nurses from Bismarck. He was later appointed chief of military surgical services in France.

He joined the Officers Reserve Corps in 1917, where he was commissioned as a Major. Soon after, he was assigned to the Medical Corps and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He was stationed at various posts, including Fort Snelling, where he was discharged on August 1, 1919.

After the war, Quain was elected President of the North Dakota State Medical Association in 1922.

Personal Life

Quain married Doctor Fannie Almara Dunn in 1903. The two met while both working at St. Alexius. They had two children – Buell and Marion – the first of which, Buell, is noted for his mysterious death by apparent suicide in Brazil at the age of 27.

The pair divorced at some point and Quain re-married in 1940 to Hilda Gustafson – an operating room supervisor at Bismarck Hospital.

Quain published several books, some of them personal memoirs. 

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