New York Times
HEALTH OF TROOPS IN
Could Not Be in Better, Dr. Martin, Head of Medical Committee, Declares.
ALL PRECAUTIONS TAKEN
Personnel and Supply Problems Being Solved — Epidemics of Disease Extremely
WASHINGTON, July 28. — Dr. Franklin H. Martin, Chairman of the Committee on Medicine and Surgery of the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense, in an interview today, gave unstinted praise to the personnel of the Medical Corps of the army and navy.
"The work of the army surgeon, the care of the wounded," Dr. Martin said, "easily holds the public mind; but vital as it is, it is of small importance compared with the far greater task of keeping the men in the camps and on the ships free from disease, particularly during the months immediately approaching, when by far the greater part of the American Army will be in training.
"The trained physician knows that unless certain precautions are taken, dangerous epidemics, such as typhoid fever or meningitis, are almost certain to occur in the army camps, striking often with the most surprising suddenness. The key to the whole situation is constant vigilance, and nothing can possibly be a greater spur to watchfulness on the part of the medical authorities than the knowledge that the American people will know immediately if conditions are not what they ought to be in the housing of the troops, the sanitation in the camps, and the general provisions against disease.
"The work of safeguarding the health of the army and navy could not be in better hands than it is right now. The medical corps of the United States Army and Navy have led the way in many directions in the development of military sanitation and disease prevention, and the confidence the country feels in their leadership is thoroughly justified. Best of all, in addition to the individual high professional capacity of these men, the organizations as a whole have shown an unprecedented capacity for expanding to meet the requirements of the tremendously increased task which faces them.
"Their broad-gauge character has been shown nowhere to better advantage than in the eagerness with which they have sought the aid of the best civilian professional though of the country in meeting new problems as they have arisen. The General Medical Board of the Council of National Defense, composed of the country’s biggest medical men, including Surgeon Generals of the army and navy, has served as a clearing house of professional opinion and has brought to the solution of the questions at hand in concentrated form the best medical thought of the nation. On the board are such men as Dr. Simon Flexner of the Rockefeller Institute, Drs. William J. and Charles H. Mayo, Dr. Victor C. Vaughan of the University of Michigan, Dr. John M. T. Finney and Dr. William H. Welch of Johns Hopkins, Dr. Frederick A. Besley of Northwestern, Dr. George W. Crile of Western Reserve, and Dr. Charles E. Kahlke of Mahnenmann College, Chicago, to mention only a few. As the time for mobilization of the army approaches, many of these civilian physicians are themselves entering active administration in the army and navy corps.
"During the last months the work of the medical section has been directed in three main channels. The most comprehensive has been keeping in touch in an advisory capacity, ready to assist at any point, in the work of the several divisions of control of the Government and the civilian population — the Medical Corps of the army and navy, the Public Health Service, the Red Cross, and the work with the civilian munition workers. Through the medical sections of the State Councils of Defense the departments are able to secure the assistance of reputable local physicians in cleaning up their own neighborhoods and in bringing local public opinion to bear on danger spots.
"Beside this work of keeping general oversight over all branches of the public medical service, the committee has concerned itself deeply with the problems of personnel and supplies. The personnel problem has not been solved, but it is possible to say that the section has been of great service in putting the Government departments in touch with the kind of men they need, and are working continually through personal contact and extensive correspondence on filling the ranks to the point needed to take care of the new army. The medical service must be filled with men of the broadest gauge, and we must depend on the profession between now and the first of September to furnish its best even more generously than in the past.
"The supply problem, which is cared for by Dr. Simpson, who sits in with the General Munitions Board, has been another source of difficulty in which the medical section has co-operated with the medical divisions of the army and navy. Through constant conferences with manufacturers and close attention to detail, especially standardization of products, this work is in a fair way toward accomplishment. There will be no serious dearth.
"The country can rest assured that everything of which the American medical profession is capable has been done to prepare for taking care of its new troops. So far as it is safe to predict anything, so far as it is safe to predict anything, it can be promised that there will be no dangerous epidemics of preventable disease."