As we continue our 50th Anniversary celebration, we turn our attention this week to Public Health. COVID-19 has given most of us a fresh appreciation for our healthcare professionals. We look at how far public health in Mississippi has evolved by dipping into this interview from 1975 when Ms. Edith Reece ended her thirty-five-year career as a public health nurse by sitting down to record her oral history.
1975 – Edith Reece of Woodville became a public health nurse in 1940. In this episode, she recalls the challenges of working for rural county health departments in those early days. At that time, sexually transmitted diseases were common and there were no effective treatments. Reece explains that public health nurses were required by law to report and roundup members of the community who refused treatment for their STDs. She explains that spinal taps were often necessary for diagnosis of syphilis and babies often contracted congenital syphilis from their parents.
In 1942. Reece volunteered to become an Army Nurse and was sent to England. She describes caring for wounded soldiers and how she put on a brave face for her patients. After serving as an army nurse, Edith Reece returned to her public health job in Mississippi. She remembers convincing county officials to replace the dilapidated health department in Woodville.
Edith Reece retired from the Mississippi Department of Health in 1975. She discusses the changes in public health she witnessed during her thirty-five-year career as a nurse.
PHOTO: Public health nurse, Floridamemories.com