July 16, 1943
SEATTLE, Thursday — Last night I flew into Seattle, having been busy all day in San Francsico. Admiral Reed called for me at 9:30 a.m. and we went at once to the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. They now have a complete dental room and are doing very excellent work for the men who need it as part of their general hospitalization. Then we went through a number of wards and I saw many new boys and some of the patients that I had seen on my last visit.
It is encouraging to see these boys improve and change from mere skeletons racked by fever and pain into human beings well on the road to recovery. Youth is a great asset, but certainly modern implements of war can play havoc with the most wonderful constitution. As we stopped at one bed the doctor said to me, "This Marine tells us he is nineteen years old, but we have our doubts about it." My own surmise is that the boy is only seventeen, and he has seen a good bit of fighting in the Southwest Pacific.
This hospital has developed a small family wing since I was last there, which makes a great difference to the enlisted men who know that there is a place where their wives and family can be taken care of. After lunch, I spoke to the men who could be assembled outside on the grassy lawn, and then with Admiral Reed I proceeded to the Mare Island Hospital.
Oak Knoll, of course, is entirely new and it grows by leaps and bounds. Some three thousand men are now being taken care of there. Mare Island is old and established and the construction is permanent. While it has increased in size, they are now trying to cut down on their number of patients. They have some orthopedic cases there and a shop in which braces, legs and arms are being made.
An experimental procedure is in process of development in which I was most interested. If it should prove as successful as they think it is going to be, the cost of artificial legs will be cut by almost two-thirds. Instead of taking several weeks if a part is broken, it will take only a few hours to repair it. These two things are very important to handicapped people.
If a man is earning his living and can't go to work without his artificial leg or arm, the difference between a few hours and several weeks counts in his earning power. The difference between a $30 and $40 original investment and $150, which an artificial leg has cost in the past, is a very considerable item, not only in a personal budget, but in what it will cost in the care of rehabilitation of our men in Army and Navy hospitals.
There are at Mare Island also a number of psychiatric cases and the atmosphere in these wards seems to me extraordinarily cheerful. I was interested to find in both hospitals that WAVES are now being used in increasing numbers, both as hospital corpsmen and as technicians of various kinds. There is a school for the WAVES who are training as hopital corpsmen at Oak Knoll. One WAVE at Mare Island is a psychiatrist.
By the end of the day my feet were somewhat weary as well as my spirit. I take my hat off, however, to the way the work is being done in these hospitals. It is one of the things we can be very proud of. There is no question in my mind but that our boys are getting the best of medical care and excellent nursing. I went to my son's for a cup of tea and glimpse of the children and took the plane for Seattle.
My daughter and I attended a meeting this morning, but I shall have to tell you about that tomorrow.