Excerpts Buncombe Co Public Health

A city-county venereal disease clinic was established in the old library building.  Dr. A.F. Toole was appointed clinician.  Dr. Scruggs served until 1921 when Dr. Robert G. Wilson was elected.

                May 31, 1921 the Buncombe County commissioners voted to contribute the sum of 750 dollars toward the salary and expenses of a veterinarian for meat and milk inspection in the county provided the city of Asheville furnished a like sum.  In consideration of this action, the state board of health and the federal government furnished an additional veterinarian to work on the milk shed.

                October 4, 1922 the county commissioners agreed to pay 50.00 dollars per month to the city health department for laboratory work done for the county. 

                January 29, 1923 they agreed to pay 50.00 dollars per month toward the salary of a part time public health nurse for Buncombe County.  Miss May Stockton was appointed for this position. 

                Miss Stockton resigned March 31, 1924.  A Miss Dillingham, the first clerk, was employed as the department’s first full time public health nurse.  She had formerly worked on the nursing staff of the city of Asheville Health Department, and before coming to the county health department, had completed her course in public health nursing and received her degree from William and Mary College, Richmond, Virginia.        

In January, the health bulletin was combined with the municipal bulletin, a publication edited by Mr. D. Hiden Ramsey, commissioner of public safety.  The purpose of the magazine was to give the public definite and detailed information about all operations of city government.  1916 brought the great flood, drowning several Asheville people and leaving many homeless.  The health department became headquarters for flood relief.  Health department became headquarters for flood relief.  Health department employees helped set up food and sleeping stations and stored and distributed household goods, as many of the flood sufferers were health department clients.  In September the first school nurse, Miss Pearl Weaver, began working in the city schools.  Her salary was paid by Mrs. Reuben Robertson, who was at that time president of the orange street mothers group, a forerunner of the parent-teacher association.  In the December municipal bulletin she reports for a three months period 1,427 pupils inspected and reports of defects sent to parents.  Six children were taken to specialists to be fitted with glasses.  Used to care for the water and sewage system on the property.  Twelve utility districts were created by legislative act to provide water and sewage service in the county.

                February 1, 1926, upon advice of the health officer the board of health passed special rules regulation plumbing, the inspection of wells and springs used by the public on highways to determine the purity of the water and requiring all persons handling milk products to have a certificate of health from the health officer or a duly licensed practicing physician.  Mrs. Beatrice Crowell was appointed public health nurse October 1, 1926.  Buncombe County was the first county in the state to have two full time public health nurses.  The nurses carried on an extensive immunization program, working six days a week, and often working on Sunday to put up quarantine signs.  A great deal of public health education was carried on through the schools and in the homes visited by the nurses.  Prenatal and well-baby clinics were established in the county.

                In 1927 Buncombe County became a tuberculosis accredited county, every dairyman in the county having tuberculosis accredited cattle, as certified by the U.S. Public Health Service.  The first preschool clinic in North Carolina was held in Weaverville.

          March 20, 1928 a committee was appointed to draft a milk ordinance to control the production and sale of milk and milk products in Buncombe County.  A committee was also appointed children.  She served in this capacity until 1920, when she resigned and Dr. Eugene R. Cocke was appointed. 

                In 1919 the secretary of the health department was appointed registrar of vital statistics for Asheville and Asheville Township, thus bringing these records into health department where they belong.  Dr. W.B. Hobson, a qualified veterinarian, was employed as meat inspector.  The local venereal disease clinic was established in the old library building March 1, 1919.  Dr. A.F. Toole was appointed clinician.  Public Health nursing began to function as a unit.  It was not a division of the health department, but operated under the supervision of a public health nursing committee.  Pioneers in this field were Miss Pearl Weaver, supervisor, Miss Jane M. Brown, Mrs. I.C. Hanna and Mrs. Edna P. Jenkins.  Miss Aline Reynolds, daughter of health officer, served as clerk on volunteer basis.  Funds for the service were provided by the associated charities, the Asheville school system, the city of Asheville, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and interested citizens.  The city provided space in the health department for the organization, and street car fare for transportation.  Within a few weeks a public spirited citizen provided a car, model t ford, for the supervisor.  The great influenza epidemic occurred during this year.  The hospitals were overflowing with patients.  The Health Department assisted the Buncombe County Health Department in setting up a temporary hospital in the boroughs, now YMCA property on Woodfin Street.  The Health Department, under the supervision of the health officer, provided soup and services.


                In 1920 a new housing law for tuberculosis patients was enacted.

                In January 1922 Dr. McCormick, bacteriologist and chemist in the laboratory suffered a heart attack and died.  Mr. C.C. Demaree was appointed to this position March 1, 1922.  In April the Health Department again began publication of the health bulletin.  The following clinics were set up:  Maternity and Infant, Orthopedic, Tuberculosis and a General Adult Clinic.  These were staffed by members of the Buncombe County Medical Society.  In June Miss Maggie McAdams, Mrs. Maggie Greenlee, first colored nurse, and Miss Rose McFee, part time clerk, were added to the nursing staff.  September 11, Miss Maude Stezer, now Mrs. Grady Morgan, became a member of the Nursing Staff.  The city provided two additional cars for use by the nursing staff.  Mr. Fred Seely provided milk for underweight babies in the children’s clinic.  The clinics grew so rapidly the associated charities provided additional rooms.  Miss Pearl Weaver resigned as supervisor of nurses and Mrs. I.C. Hanna was appointed to this position.


                By 1926 the city clinics had outgrown their quarters in the associated charities building and were moved to larger quarters on government, now College Street.  The first diphtheria toxin antitoxin was used in the city schools.  The new city hall was in process of being built and the old building was to be razed.  The health department was moved to the gymnasium room of the new municipal building, which houses the police and fire departments.  The gymnasium occupied the rear floor of the second story.  There was plenty of room, but no privacy, since there were no partitions.  August 1, 1926, upon resignation of Dr. Cocke, Dr. Margery J. Lord was again appointed part time school physician.  Miss Jane Brown, acting supervisor of nurses, was designated to assist Dr. Lord’s staff.  Mrs. Edna P. Jenkins became supervisor of the nursing staff.


                On October 15, 1936 the first well baby center was opened in the community house on factory hill.  Five others were established within a few months in other parts of the city.  The centers were staffed by members of the Buncombe County Medical Society and Public Health Nurses.  The Asheville business and professional women’s club sponsored the centers and furnished scales and other equipment, and provided milk and cod liver oil. 


                November 21, 1937 the health department began the use of an audiometer in the William Randolph School.  The audiometer was loaned to the department by the N.C. State Board of Health with Miss Margaret W. Thompson as technician.  The program extended to other schools in the city.