Widespread Public Health Resources in the Deep South.
(April 7, 2020) There are many secrets in the deep south. One of them is that there is already a widespread public health system in these little known areas of the USA. And the system was already in place before Martin Luther King, Jr., began his crusade for equal rights. It was already in place before the flu epidemic of 1918, and before the Spanish-American War, even. It seems to have been formed by both ex-Confederate and ex-Carpet-baggers in the late 1870's.
The State of Alabama actually started public health in the USA with the nation's first public health system between 1875 and 1879. (I didn't know this fact until April 7, 2020. The rest of this article, I already knew before that.)
What reminded me of this subject was an article I saw a few days ago written probably by a reporter not from the deep south, about public health clinics in Mississippi, and how surprising it was for this reporter to have discovered this in such a place as Mississippi.
Therefore, it generally gets ignored by the distortion-prone U.S. media who seek out stories which create conflict over stories which might yield greater harmony and peace.
WWII actually helped fortify the public health system in the south, and in the rest of the U.S., by providing hundreds of trained nurses who had been members of the U.S. Army's nursing section during World War II. Many of the "public health nurses" on duty in the deep south after 1945 were often World War II veterans, and who found ready employment after the war servicing the needs of residents regardless of race.
Yes, there was segregation at these public health clinics before the Civil Rights era. On some days, "blacks" only were allowed. On other days, "whites" could reap the services being provided. There were also doctors on duty at certain times. Vaccines were provided free of charge on many occasions.
The subsidized clinics are still to be found all over the deep south, but no one wants to talk about it since it shows that "separate but equal" was not always about cruelty and hatred.
This is a story the media should find and report. I hope there's some historians who can research it better than I can remember.
I received some treatment at the local public health clinic as a child. Our family doctor was 40 miles away, the public clinic only 5 miles from home. The nurse on duty two days a week was a former Army nurse. On other days, she was at other locations.
I think I recall hearing that the state where I was born was well known in public health circles, and had received awards for their internationally acclaimed top-quality public healthcare, well before the Civil Rights era.