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Shattuck, S. F., et. al (ed.) / A history of Neenah

Neenah's medical history from 1878 to 1957,   pp. 361-367 PDF (1.6 MB)

Page 361

                      1878 TO 1957
DURING the time covered by Mr. Cunningham in his history of Nee-
nah, and a few years beyond 1878, it was apparently quite easy to
obtain a license to practice medicine. In the few states requiring a
permit, political influence, rather than knowledge, was often an im-
portant requirement. Many of the men professing to be physicians
had never attended a medical school. They had managed to become a
"Doctor of Medicine" as far as the trusting public was concerned
merely by assisting an older doctor for a period.
  Neenah, however, was most fortunate that the majority of its early
doctors were graduates of the best medical schools of that day. Each
one was dentist, oculist, obstetrician, surgeon, internal medicine spe-
cialist, psychiatrist and counselor. He used comparatively few drugs.
There was a folding black leather case that fitted into his special back
coat-tail pocket. Contained in its tiny glass bottles were carried most
of the drugs used in average calls. Paregoric, Dover's powder, quinine,
morphine, bismuth, calomel and salol were a few of these standbys.
He also carried a bag containing dressings, instruments, chloroform
and occasionally wooden-handled forceps. There was always a bottle
of carbolic acid to use for sterilization. Aseptic surgery, the important
contribution of Lord Lister, was not yet in use. The administration of
anesthetics was still in a crude stage. There were only vague ideas
concerning hemorrhage and infections. Smallpox was the only infec-
tious disease the profession knew how to combat.
  It is doubtful if any of our young men of today can appreciate the
physical endurance required of these older generations of doctors. The
long country rides, either in a buggy or on a saddle, over makeshift
roads, were exhausting. There was a fairly good dirt road going
toward Winchester as far as "Bailey's Corners," now Ridgeway golf
course. Often a doctor's horse would be tied to a post at this place for
hours, while his less fortunate master waded through mud, marsh
land and often snow drifts to some early settler's home and back.

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