FEBRUARY 20, 1941
NEW YORK, Wednesday—A few guests lunched with me yesterday, one or two afternoon visitors and an evening spent happily listening to a fine concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Then the night train to New York City and a series of appointments here this morning which I will tell you about tomorrow.
Days ago I promised to write a column about the miners' hospital in Montgomery, West Virginia. I hesitated to write about it until I could investigate every possible source to see whether there was something wrong with it that I had not been able to discover! It seemed to me too good to be true, yet I failed to find that Dr. Laird himself, who is so interested in rendering a service to his patients at a minimum cost, was painting too rosy a picture or forgetting to mention some fact which would make this service impossible to duplicate. I have grown skeptical, I suppose, so I kept on trying to find out if there were any flaws in the plan.
I can find no flaw, and so at last I want to tell you what has been done in Montgomery. At the same time I want to pay a tribute of admiration to Dr. Laird and his associates, for the remarkable organization and humanitarian approach to this question of hospital care.
Here in a small place in West Virginia, surrounded by a mining area which is none too prosperous—as you may see if you drive past the houses lived in by the miners—there is a hospital which is as well equipped, as attractively furnished, as airy and light and cheerful as any I have ever seen. The nurses seem to give skilled and loving service. There is a training school for nurses, and most of the girls come from miners' families. That, perhaps, is why they know so well how to care for the men and their families, who make up the bulk of patients. The miners receive complete hospitalization for themselves, their wives, children, and aged parents who live with them, for the sum of $1.00 per month. There is no extra charge for operations, for anesthetics or for medicine. Some of the cases of broken backs have been in the hospital over a year.
Every detail is thought out and carefully planned. Every room in this hospital is not only attractive but convenient for nurse and patient. The equipment is of the best and arranged in the most convenient way for those who have to use it.
There is no skimping on wages. Everyone receives the average for the vicinity for the type of work they are doing. Babies, old people and young people are cared for equally well.
After much questioning, the only explanation for this remarkable achievement of Dr. Laird's seems to be the great care taken to eliminate waste. One other is the preventive medical work which the graduate nurses do when employed by the coal mine owners. Dr. Laird says that after they have been at work for two years there is a distinct drop in the number of people coming in with minor ailments, which are eliminated by better knowledge of nutrition and general health care.
Dr. Laird should be utilized to teach more young men who are going to work in hospitals all over the country what really good management of a hospital can achieve.