Hospitalization plans were enacted as the Great Depression was ending and World War II took center stage in American life and policy. WHA participated heavily in recruiting and training medical professionals of all stripes for the armed services. WHA newsletters from the time show that doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators were all concerned with wartime efforts: educating field medics and physicians, staffing hospitals while many professionals were serving in the military, publishing news of hospital units stationed abroad, and coping with medication and material shortages.
Third in a New Look Series: Fighters on the Home Front (published in LOOK, June 1, 1943)
YOUR DOCTOR MEETS A WAR HEALTH CRISIS
While Younger physicians to go war, “Doc” is guarding the civilian front
“Doggone it!” says Harry A. Keenan, M.D. “I’ve often made calls when I felt a lot sicker than my patients.” At 66, diabetic and asthmatic, “Doc” sees 50 to 60 patients a day, serves an area of 150 square miles around Stoughton, Wis. At his office, he feels the strain every afternoon about 4, interrupts his work for a cup of tea. On country calls, he has had to stop his car (“I couldn’t breathe”) and give himself a shot of adrenalin to ease an asthma attack. He averages five hours of sleep a night, hasn’t had a free weekend or time for a movie in nine months.
With bouncing vitality, this jovial little doctor – who looks like America’s family physician – carries on selflessly at home while over 45,000 of his colleagues (53,000 by the end of 1943) serve the armed forces. Before Pearl Harbor, the Stoughton area (pop. 15,000) had five doctors. When one joined the Army, another the Marines, Dr. Keenan took over much of their practice. “If anything should happen to me, he worries,” the other two doctors remaining in town couldn’t handle the added burden.”
Throughout the nation, 10,000 communities like Stoughton must also “make do” with less medical care. In many sections, the shortage has become critical. But with the American people lending a hand, our supply of doctors more evenly distributed, and men like Dr. Keenan unswervingly devoted to their calling, we can hold our own for the duration.
Click here to see more of the LOOK article on Dr. Keenan.