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Report Of The Health Officer

To the President of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute:

During the year the addition to the infirmary was completed, which almost doubles our capacity for taking care of the sick and brings our total number of beds up to fifty-six. Included are private rooms with baths between, which fills a long needed necessity for isolating patients with contagious diseases and provides the proper room for the nurse detailed for this special duty.

In the addition, besides the bed space, there are rooms for x-ray, laboratory, doctor’s office, and a large sun-parlor for convalescent patients. This sun-parlor is so arranged that it can be used for a sick ward when more bed space is necessary, as in case of an epidemic.

The staff is composed of a health officer in charge of infirmary and health conditions at the college, a consulting physician on duty when necessary at any time during the year, and three graduate nurses. In addition to their routine nursing, one of these nurses acts as superintendent of the hospital, with duties as such, and another assists in the laboratory and x-ray room as technician. Two janitors are on duty during the day for general work at the infirmary.

Meals for patients in the infirmary are served from the nearby dining hall, and only liquid diet for the very sick patients is prepared at the infirmary.

During the year 1928-1929 there were 575 patients admitted to the infirmary and 2,441 days of patients in the infirmary. During the year 1929-1930 there were 666 patients admitted to the infirmary and 3,472 days of patients in the infirmary. There has been no death from any cause at the infirmary during the two-year period. These figures are not a very good index to the real conditions existing, for sickness from slight diseases, as mumps, will run the per cent of sick up one year very much more than in another year where conditions were more serious, as in the case of influenza in 1928.

The above refers to patients sick enough to be confined to bed. In addition to these there are from twenty-five to fifty treated each day at sick-call and allowed to continue their class work. No record was made of those treated at sick-call, except the ones excused from duty or on leave. I believe, however, that the number treated each year will show a constant increase if the enrolment at college increases as it has been doing in the past.

Just before matriculation all freshmen are given a thorough physical examination and the findings are recorded on charts retained on file in the doctor’s office during the four years the student is in college. Where defects are found the student is re-examined and defects corrected, if possible. Where defects are not correctable the student is advised as to the amount of study, exercise, or military training desirable in his particular case. Soon after matriculation each freshman is inoculated and vaccinated against typhoid fever and small-pox, which carries them through to the R. O. T. C. and complies with our standard which is accepted by the U. S. Army.

All juniors are re-examined to determine their fitness for entering camp and to find any defects that might have occurred since their freshman examination. The junior examinations are more strict, if possible, than the freshman examinations, and we received a very favorable report this year concerning the physical fitness our boys showed during the examination at camp.

All women students are examined each year and are treated when sick, at their infirmary, located in the girls’ dormitory. This infirmary is adequate at present to take care of the sick girls, but will not be large enough in the near future, and I would like to recommend a new building for girls, with infirmary attached, large enough to take care of future needs.

No major surgery is done here, but after a diagnosis has been made the patient is at once taken to the surgeon of his choice at Roanoke, or elsewhere, for treatment. This is done with the consent of parents and the family physician.

We lecture at the beginning of the session, to the freshman class as a body, and point out the different ways in which a student may check his physical condition and bring his physical development up to the maximum state of efficiency. All during the year as contact is made with the students, from time to time, they are advised about caring for their physical condition, which is so necessary to any development.

We have taken advantage of the radio to lecture to the people of Virginia and elsewhere, laying special emphasis on the need of being physically prepared to enter college and showing how a great deal of time is lost to students from their class work by not being physically fit, as they could have been if the proper precautions, had been taken before entering school.

It has been advisable to continue my membership with the medical societies of the county and state, also national, which I have done; and I have attended all meetings where it has been possible to leave the infirmary.

Our organization is functioning very smoothly, and with the addition to the infirmary our needs are very small at this time. However, this does not take care of the girls. The following recommendations are made:

1. Increase the budget for the health department as the enrolment increases.

2. The present infirmary, including the old and new portions, should be painted or penciled on the outside so that the two parts will harmonize in color.

3. In building a new structure for the women students a new infirmary should be included in the building.

My work as health officer for the college and a member of the administrative council, is brought to your attention by the various departments, and I feel that it is not necessary to mention it here, except to ask for an increased appropriation to take care of the various departments in a sanitary manner, as for example, the water supply.

Respectfully submitted,

Chas. R. Woolwine, Health Officer.