For the Nation's Health (Public Health Service, 1952)

By: U.S. National Library of Medicine

[Narrator:] This is the story of the United States Public Health Service. It's a story of many parts. It's a story of hospitals like this one in New Orleans and this one in Norfolk, Virginia. It's a story of the leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, the hospital for study and treatment of drug addiction in Lexington, Kentucky, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Clinical Center there. It's the story of quarantine stations at our major ports of entry like this one at Miami, and this one at New Orleans.

As a matter of fact, the story of the Public Health Service can be found in many places throughout the United States and its territories. [ Music ] The story began with President John Adams in 1798, when he signed the Act establishing the Marine Hospital Service, forerunner of the Public Health Service today. Many people have helped establish the Service's distinguished traditions, people like Joseph Goldberger, who pioneered in studies of pellagra, a once widespread dietary disease. Leslie Lumsden, whose work in typhoid epidemiology and rural sanitation is a cornerstone of modern public health practice. Joseph Mountain who stimulated nationwide interest in many fields of public health practice and administration, such as chronic disease control and the health problems of the aging. Charles Armstrong whose adaptation of poliomyelitis to rodents speeded up polio research, and Edward Francis, whose studies of the origin and causes of tularemia have done much to improve our knowledge of this disease. Other Public Health Service scientists developed vaccines against Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and typhus, and perfected many others. The Service was also instrumental in the virtual eradication of malaria in the United States.

Today, the Public Health Service employs over 21,000 people in about 250 occupational specialties. These include physicians, nurses, sanitary engineers, dentists, scientists, dieticians, veterinarians, physical therapists, pharmacists, social workers, administrative specialists, instrument-makers, animal caretakers, nursing assistants, clerical personnel, and a host of other specialists necessary to the effective operation of the Service. Civil Service personnel comprise the largest number of these employees. About one-fifth of the Service's employees are regular and reserve officers of the Commissioned Corp, a long-established career organization of professional medical and health personnel, and one of the uniformed services of our country. Because of the professional nature of the Service's activities, many of its major programs are directed by commissioned officers. Officers of the Commissioned Corp serve either in the regular corps, or career service, or in the reserve corps on active or inactive duty. Officers on inactive duty belong to a component of the reserve corps known as the Commissioned Reserve. The Commissioned Reserve is a readily available personnel held in reserve for grave national emergencies, and trained to meet critical situations affecting the health and well-being of large numbers of people.

Such emergencies might involve the destruction of our cities, extensive illness and death from disease epidemics, or the unusual health problems associated with major natural disasters. The Public Health Service is the oldest and largest of the five operating agencies that comprise the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The Public Health Service is organized to work closely with state and national organizations through national conferences and advisory groups of private citizens, to give meaning and direction to its many programs.

For the Nation's Health (Public Health Service, 1952)

The actual work of the Service is carried on by four major bureaus. One of these bureaus is the Office of the Surgeon General. This is not an operating bureau, but is responsible for coordinating activities and providing administrative services for the three other bureaus. The three other bureaus, known as operating bureaus, are the Bureau of Medical Services, the Bureau of State Services, and the National Institutes of Health. Let's examine these bureaus and their activities one at a time. First, the Bureau of Medical Services. This bureau operates foreign quarantine programs.

It administers grants for construction of hospitals and medical facilities, operates numerous hospitals and outpatient clinics, and the Indian Health Program. It conducts dental and nursing studies of personnel needs, and makes professional personnel available upon request to other federal agencies. Personnel in the Bureau of Medical Services work in Public Health Service hospitals from Massachusetts to California, and in outpatient clinics providing medical care to seamen of the United States Merchant Marine, the United States Coast Guard, and the families of Coast Guard officers and enlisted personnel. They serve in Public Health Service hospitals and clinics on Indian reservations in the United States and Alaska, in federal prisons, with the Coast Guard in Alaska, and with the Coast Guard on the high seas. Personnel from the Bureau of Medical Services are also assigned to quarantine duty with United States embassies in foreign countries.

In this country, quarantined personnel are on duty at our major seaports, and at our international airports, where they determine the health status of passengers entering the United States from abroad and keep daily surveillance for disease-bearing insects that may find their way into this country. The Bureau of Medical Services is also responsible for the Hospital Construction Program, under which the federal government matches state and local funds for the construction of hospitals and other medical facilities in communities where there are no such facilities, or where existing facilities are inadequate. Public Health Practice, the control of disease in the community as a whole, is the responsibility of the second major operating bureau, the Bureau of State Services. Through research, demonstration, training, and consultation, the personnel of this bureau work closely with state and local health agencies on many different health problems. The bureau coordinates the activities of regional staffs located in eight of the nine regional headquarters of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. It is through these regional staffs that many of the Public Health Service's cooperative federal, state, and interstate programs reach the people of this country. The Bureau of State Services assists state and community health officials on such problems as mosquito and fly control, animal-borne diseases, safety of public water supplies, water pollution control, standards of sanitation governing the preparation and serving of food and milk.

Personnel of the Bureau of State Services study, develop, and demonstrate methods of community refuse disposal. They train local health personnel in effective methods of sewage treatment, in rodent control, and in housing hygiene. They study the relationship between air quality and community health and conduct research to improve the working environment of the industrial worker. They also work on Indian reservations to eliminate health problems caused by insanitary conditions.

The Bureau of State Services provides grants to states to help them finance health programs, such as the establishment of new county and local health services. In addition, there are grants to states for specific health problems. These include tuberculosis, diabetes, heart disease, venereal disease, cancer, and dental decay. Grants are also made to support studies of the special problems of the older citizens in our communities. Specially trained epidemic intelligence officers of the Bureau of State Services provide disaster aid to states in the form of prompt investigation of disease outbreaks. Another unit of this bureau, The National Office of Vital Statistics, compiles, analyzes, and publishes national reports on births, deaths, and disease outbreaks. To augment its field activities and the research programs of the service, the Bureau of State Services operates the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta, Georgia, the Robert A. Taft Sanitary Engineering Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Arctic Health Research Center in Anchorage, Alaska.

The global scope of the bureau's activities is indicated by its international health programs in approximately 60 foreign countries where the service provides technical assistance in the development of health services. Here are some nurses in Iran. This is a physician in Formosa and this is a sanitary engineer in Iraq. The third major operating bureau in the Public Health Service is the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. This bureau referred to for brevity as NIH, consists of seven research institutes, a clinical center, and four independent divisions. Although the service conducts research programs in many places, NIH is the largest installation for this type of work. In modern, well-equipped laboratories, NIH scientists are making important progress in many areas of research.

In areas such as heart disease, cancer, mental illness, arthritis and the metabolic disorders, the neurological and sensory disorders, allergies and infectious diseases, and diseases of the mouth and teeth. At the Clinical Center, the findings of the laboratory scientists and the experience of the physician are brought together in a concentrated attack on disease to accelerate man's knowledge of some of our most stubborn disease problems. NIH scientists also work at the Public Health Service's Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Hamilton, Montana, where they study diseases that are transmissible from animals to man. NIH has also the responsibility of certifying the safety, purity and potency of biologics used in the treatment of disease.

Over two-thirds of all the funds appropriated to the National Institutes of Health by the Congress are awarded to scientists in the nation's medical schools, universities and other research centers. These federal funds are helping to expand medical research and research training throughout the country. As a result, our knowledge of the major diseases of man is rapidly increasing, bringing us closer to the day when the main causes of disability and early death can be reduced to a minimum. One type of award granted by NIH helps medical schools expand their training facilities, such as laboratories and classrooms which permit modern methods of instruction. Another type of award is the Research Fellowship which helps talented young scientists enter research careers. Still other funds are granted to non-profit institutions for the construction of essential research facilities in many parts of the country. Now let's look once again, but briefly, at the organization of the Public Health Service. It is part of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Under the direction of the Surgeon General, the Service administers programs in three major areas of activity. These are research into the causes of disease, the prevention of disease and promotion of health, and the care and treatment of patients who look to us for this kind of service. Through its 21,000 employees, the Public Health Service today brings benefits to every American, not so much as a direct dispenser of services, but as a leader and guiding influence. The Service's work is reflected in an increasing store of professional information, [ Music ] in popular knowledge of medical developments, in improved local health programs throughout the United States and its territories. The Public Health Service, as it has for more than 150 years, is dedicating its energies and resources to increasing man's knowledge of the cause, prevention, treatment, and control of disease, that the people of this nation and their children are more adequately protected than than ever before from the suffering and hardships produced by disease. [Music.

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