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Healing Kentucky

Healing Kentucky: Medicine in the Bluegrass State

Phyllis MacAdam General Editor
Nancy Disher Baird
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 64
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  • Book Info
    Healing Kentucky
    Book Description:

    Most towns did not have hospitals of their own before the mid-twentieth century, and Kentucky towns were no exception. Kentucky's first real hospital opened in 1823, but it was in Louisville -- too far away to serve many Kentucky communities, especially in cases of emergency. For this and other reasons, the lifespan of the average Kentuckian in the 1800s was only 40 years. Today it has grown to 75, and trained medical professionals are available to most communities throughout the state. Healing Kentucky tells how medical care changed in Kentucky over 200 years and became the much safer and better system we know today. It also describes early healing practices and methods used to care for the sick in the days before safe hospitals, even on Civil War battlefields. From cholera epidemics to polio and plastic surgery, readers will learn much about the people who shaped medicine in Kentucky.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2629-6
    Subjects: History, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. iv-iv)
    Virginia G. Smith

    The Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc., began New Books for New Readers because Kentucky’s adult literacy students want books that recognize their intelligence and experience while meeting their need for simplicity in writing. The first thirteen titles in the New Books for New Readers series have helped many adult students open a window on the wonderful world of literacy. At the same time, these New Books, with their plain language and compelling stories of Kentucky’s history and culture, have found a wider audience among accomplished readers of all ages who recognize a good book when they read one. As we publish...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. v-vi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    Kentucky was not a healthy place during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Disease, childbirth, polluted water, bad food, and many other problems killed Kentuckians. In 1850 the average life span was about 40 years. Today, one can hope to live 75 years or more.

    Homes and other buildings could be very dangerous. Stoves and fireplaces burned wood and coal to heat buildings and cook food. They also made smoke and soot that polluted the air. Candles and lanterns gave light, but they also increased the threat of fire. Windows had no screens to keep out insects that spread disease....

  6. 1 She Lived! Early Surgery
    (pp. 3-5)

    Jane Crawford lived on a farm near Greensburg in 1809. Although she thought she was too old to have more children, her stomach began to grow. “I think I am going to have a baby,” she decided. As her stomach grew, she thought that she might have twins. After nine months no babies were born, yet her stomach continued to grow. She went to a doctor and learned she had a 20-pound tumor growing in her stomach. The doctor in Greensburg did not do surgery, but someone told Jane Crawford about a good doctor in Danville named Ephraim McDowell. He...

  7. 2 They Died Faster Than Coffins Could Be Made: The 1833 Cholera Epidemic
    (pp. 6-10)

    The moon had just come up over the treetops. Only the bugs seemed to be awake on that hot June night in 1833. The birds were asleep; the farm animals were asleep. Lexington’s Dr. John Esten Cooke was asleep—until someone knocked loudly on his door.

    “Dr. Cooke. Dr. Cooke. Come quickly. Please come quickly! My little Mary is very sick. I fear that she has cholera.”

    Dr. Cooke listened as the man said, “This morning she was well, but after lunch she became very sick at her stomach. She has vomited many times. She has bad diarrhea. Mary is...

  8. 3 It’s a Wonder That Anyone Survived: Civil War Medicine
    (pp. 11-14)

    Have you watched the TV showM*A*S*H? If so, have you noticed the clean operating space? Have you seen the sterile masks, gowns, and gloves worn by the doctors and nurses? Have you noticed the tender care given to wounded soldiers?M*A*S*His about an American Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit in Korea during the Korean War (1950–1953). Ninety years earlier, during the American Civil War, the care given to soldiers was quite different.

    The Civil War began in April 1861. It was fought because the South wished to separate from the United States and form the Confederate States...

  9. 4 No One Should Live in Filth: Yellow Fever and the Kentucky Prison
    (pp. 15-19)

    A mosquito helped elect one of Kentucky’s best—and most hated—governors!

    Yellow fever is a virus that usually occurs in tropical places. It is spread from one person to another by the bite of a mosquito that is native to warm climates. People with yellow fever have a very high fever and throw up blood. Because the disease harms the liver, their skin and eyes turn yellow. Many of them die.

    The disease-carrying mosquitoes live and breed in swamps and areas of standing water. By draining many of these areas and by preventing people sick with yellow fever from...

  10. 5 He Had Red Sore Eyes and Is Blind: Trachoma
    (pp. 20-24)

    “Why is that man being led down the street like a horse?” Linda Neville wanted to know.

    “He had ‘red sore eyes’ and is now blind,” a friend replied.

    “Are there no doctors who can cure him?” she asked.

    “No, ma’am. Not here in Knott County,” was the reply.

    Linda Neville was a Lexington schoolteacher. In 1907 she visited a friend who lived in Knott County, in the Kentucky mountains. During the visit she saw many blind people. She learned that some of them lost their eyesight because of a germ that caused rough spots on the underside of the...

  11. 6 Viruses Among Us: Smallpox and Spanish Flu
    (pp. 25-29)

    The next time you see a picture of George Washington, look closely at his face. Does his skin show ugly scars? As a young man, Washington had a disease called smallpox. Smallpox makes the body form deep “poxes” or sores on the skin. Washington’s skin was badly scarred from the disease. However, the artists who painted his pictures did not show these scars.

    Smallpox is one of many diseases caused by a tiny germ called a virus. It spreads from person to person through the air. Smallpox probably has been the world’s oldest and worst killer. During the 16th–18th...

  12. 7 It’s the Law: The State Board of Health
    (pp. 30-35)

    With so many diseases around, Kentucky needed a way to make people safe and improve their medical care. In 1878 the state’s lawmakers created the Kentucky State Board of Health. The Board has fought—and won—many battles to protect the lives of Kentuckians. It has helped the state’s citizens along the path to a longer and healthier life.

    Dr. Joseph McCormack of Bowling Green served as one of the Board’s earliest leaders. He believed that it would be easier and cheaper to prevent disease than to cure it. He also believed lack of cleanliness caused or spread most illnesses....

  13. 8 It Struck Fear in Every Parent’s Heart: Polio
    (pp. 36-40)

    Dr. Z. K. Jones took care of people in Bowling Green and Warren County for more than 60 years. Scott Keele was one of his favorite patients. Dr. Jones had cared for Scott since he was a newborn baby. He made sure Scott received his baby shots and was vaccinated. He rode his horse out to the family’s farm to care for Scott when he had the measles, chicken pox, mumps, and other sicknesses.

    Most of his care, however, had been for Scott when he got hurt. When Scott fell out of the tree, Dr. Jones rode his horse out...

  14. 9 You Could Die of Dog Smell: A Hospital for Morehead
    (pp. 41-44)

    In 1945 the small mountain town of Morehead, Kentucky, was “just a dot on a muddy road” in Rowan County. Some of the people who lived in Rowan County worked in the lumber and clay mining businesses. A few worked at Morehead Normal School and Teachers College. Unfortunately, some had no jobs.

    Louise Caudill was one of the first doctors in the area. When she opened her office in 1945, many people doubted that a woman could be a good doctor. However, her friends and neighbors told their friends and neighbors how much they liked this woman doctor. Soon, Dr....

  15. 10 Fixed Her Face: Plastic Surgery
    (pp. 45-48)

    The wordplasticcomes from a Greek word meaningto shapeorto mold. Plastic surgeons shape and mold skin, bone, and other body tissue. Sometimes they replace damaged tissue with healthy tissue from another part of the body. Sometimes their work helps burn or accident victims or aids those with birth defects.

    Cleft lips and cleft palates are among the most common birth defects. A cleft is an opening in the upper lip or the roof of the mouth. No one is quite sure what causes the clefts, but they happen in the early weeks of pregnancy while the...

  16. 11 Sounds Like Science Fiction: Heart Transplants
    (pp. 49-53)

    Surgery has come a long way since the days of Jane Crawford, Ephraim McDowell, and the 20-pound tumor. When Mrs. Crawford had her surgery nearly 200 years ago, there was no way to put her to sleep, no way to ease her pain, and no way to prevent an infection. Mrs. Crawford and Dr. McDowell would be shocked to see the kinds of medicines and operations that are available today. Modern patients are put to sleep during surgery, and medicines ease their pain afterward. Many kinds of surgery—on bones, organs, and even the brain—are possible. Surgeons have learned...

  17. Final Comments
    (pp. 54-54)
  18. About the Author
    (pp. 55-56)