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Science To Rebuild War Cripples

Creator: n/a
Date: September 17, 1917
Publication: New York Times
Source: Available at selected libraries

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Government Selects Sites for 19 Great 'Reconstruction' Hospitals in as Many Cities.




Every Wounded Man to be the Nation's Ward Until He Is Entirely Fit for Civil Life


Special to The New York Times.


WASHINGTON, Sept. 16. -- Major Gen. William C. Gorgas, Surgeon General of the Army, who is conceded to be one of the world's greatest authorities on military medicine and surgery, announced tonight an important reform in the nation's plans for dealing with wounded soldiers. From the time the soldier is wounded at the fighting front until his return to civil life the Government intends to stand by his side in an effort to prevent deformity from wounds, to refit the injured man for his place in civil life and to reconstruct him for service to himself and the State.


There will be expert orthopedic surgeons at the front not very far from the firing line to deal with his wounds soon after they are received in this effort to prevent deformity. One hundred miles behind the firing line there will be orthopedic hospitals and "curative workshops." Finally. After the mar is brought back across the Atlantic to this country there will be great "reconstruction hospitals" in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis and other large cities where the work of trying to "rebuild" the wounded men for a resumption of service in the civil life will be continued.


"The whole conception of governmental and national responsibility in caring for the wounded," said Major Gen. Gorgas in an authorized statement of the Government's plans tonight, "has undergone a radical change during the months of study given the subject by experts serving with the Medical Officers' Reserve Corps and others consulting with them. Instead of the old idea that responsibility ended with the return of the soldier to private life with his wounds healed and such pension as he might be given, it is now considered that it is the duty of the Government to equip and re-educate the wounded man, after healing his wounds, and to return him to civil life ready to be as useful to himself and his country as possible.


Hospital Sites Selected.


"To carry out this idea plans are well under way for building 'reconstruction hospitals' in large centres of population. Sites have been chosen, though not all finally approved, in the following cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Paul, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis, Richmond, Atlanta, and New Orleans. Those in Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago will probably be constructed first. Each will be built as a 500-bed hospital, but with provision for enlargement to 1,000 beds if needed.


"These hospitals will not be the last step in the return of he wounded soldiers to civil life. When the soldiers are able to take up industrial training, further provision will be ready. The injured man may be retrained to his former occupation to conform with his handicapped condition or retrained for a new industry compatible with that condition. Additional education will be given to those fitted for it, and men may in some cases be returned to more valuable work hat from which they were called to war. Workshops will be provided at the hospitals but arrangements will also be made with outside industries whereby more elaborate methods of training may be carried on. An employment bureau will be established to place men so trained in different parts of the United States.


"This whole matter comes under the Department of Military Orthopedic Surgery, recently organized in the Medical Department of the army. The following officers of the Medical Reserve Corps are in charge of the work: Major Elliot C. Brackett of Boston, Director of the Department of Military Orthopedics; Major Joel E. Goldthwait of Boston, Director of Military Orthopedics for the expeditionary forces; Major David Silver of Pittsburgh, Assistant Director of Military Orthopedics. The following, in conjunction with the above staff, compose the Orthopedics Council: Dr. Fred H. Albee of New York, Dr. G. Gwilyni Davis of Philadelphia, Dr. Albert H. Freiberg of Cincinnati, Dr. Robert W. Lovett of Boston, and Dr. John L. Porter of Chicago.


"Arrangements have been made by the Department of Military Orthopedics to care for soldiers, so far as orthopedics (the prevention of deformity) is concerned, continuously until they are returned either to active service or civil life. Orthopedic surgeons will be attached to the medical force near the firing line, and to the different hospitals, back to the base orthopedic hospital which will be established within 100 miles of the firing line. In this hospital, in addition to orthopedic surgical care, there will be equipment for surgical reconstruction and 'curative workshops,' in which men will acquire ability to use injured members while doing work interesting and useful in itself. This method has supplanted the old and tiresome one of prescribing a set of motions for a man to go through with no purpose other than to reacquire use of his injured part.

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