Saturday, November 26, 2016

North Carolina Provides Free Surgery for School Children, 1919

A report of an afternoon visit by the Wilkes Nurse to Mount View School was printed in the November, 1919, issue of The Health Bulletin, published by the North Carolina State Board of Health

I went to Mount View Saturday morning, September 27, 1919, for special examination of 33 school children who have not been examined in school. Obtained the names from Dr. Reece, the dentist for the State in this county. Sent notices to the parents to meet me at the public schoolhouse. It is not in session and will not be until November 1st. Has been suspended since September 1st. Exactly one-third responded by coming. Most of them had dreadful throats. 

The last one who came in before 1 p.m. was a pitiful looking woman and child dusty and travel stained. The others had gone and I was alone in the schoolhouse waiting for any others who might come. The child was a boy nine years old. His mouth was open. I looked at his throat. I don’t think I have ever seen a worse throat. It was almost closed. The tonsils met at one point. The other part was submerged, pushing against the pillars of the throat so they bulged and looked taut and shiny like a balloon. I asked the mother how far they came and she said eight miles. I asked her how she came and was amazed when she replied, “We walked.” The child was lying on the bench. I questioned her and found out that she had four children. That her husband worked at a sawmill for $1.50 a day, and they owned 40 acres of land. She said her husband was not well, had dropsy in his feet sometimes. She said she had been telling her husband for some time something would have to be done for the child. He cannot talk plain and chokes when he is asleep. His pillow is always wet with saliva. 

Dr. Reece treated his teeth. The child gave Dr. Reece the wrong post office address the reason I called them to this place. The postmaster sent it to the right post office although directed to the wrong.

Before I knew of all this I asked her if they could afford to pay and she said yes, they would manage it some way. After I found out I told her we would do him free.

I have shed the first tears I have shed in this county over this incident. That is saying a lot.

                                Cleone E. Hobbs, State School Nurse

We suppose an investigation would be in order in this case, or at least a committee appointed to place a value on the 40 acres and to inquire about the whereabouts of the mule before arranging for a life-saving operation for that boy. But we will cheerfully leave all that to the coroner, or somebody. Our business is to try to get the child treated before it is too late.

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