A brief history about Dorchester County Health Department
Dorchester County Health Department has seen many changes from its humble beginnings in the late 1800s to today. In 1877, the State Legislature gave the State Board of Health the power to require that Boards of County Commissioners organize local Boards of Health and appoint health officers. According to Dr. W. B. Johnson, Health Officer, 1950, Dr. George P. Jones served as Dorchester County's first part-time health officer from 1893 to 1900. It was in 1914 that "the Shore" got it's first full time health officer, Dr. Edgar A. Jones, who covered all nine counties in a horse and buggy. The Dorchester County Health Department's first quarters were in two rooms of the second floor of a building on High Street in Cambridge.
December, 1934 marked the beginning of regular monthly Prenatal Clinics on the first and third Thursdays of every month. Also of significance during the early '30s the first Child Hygiene Clinic was held in 1936. See related article. The infant mortality rate for 1936 was 94 deaths per thousand live births. Today's much-improved rate of 40 deaths per thousand live births as reported in 1996 still leaves room for improvement.
Of the major fatal diseases during the early 1930s, heart disease and nephritis were the most significant at 16% for the county. Other disease of significance are as follows: Cancer and Cerebral hemorrhage (8%), Tuberculosis (7%), pneumonia (10%). Death rates during 1930 - 1934 for Tuberculosis, Intestinal diseases (Typhoid, Diarrhea, and Dysentery), and Contagious diseases were 95 less than during the period 1915 - 1919. Because of the concern over the death rate with cancer, the Cancer Detection Center was opened on the 4th Monday of every month beginning in February 1948.
In 1940, the department was moved to the city-owned Wallace property (circa 18th century), which would serve, as it's inadequate home for the next 31 years. In 1971, the Health Department moved to the Woods Road location. In January, 2000, the Health Department moved again to it's current Cedar Street location.
According to Dr. J. H. M. Knox, Jr. Chief of the Bureau of Child Hygiene of the State Department of Health, a child's resistance to disease could be greatly increased by "establishing a regular routine" as outlined by the family physician. Dr. Knox, Jr. believed "food suited to the child's needs, a balanced diet supplemented by a daily allowance of cod liver oil, orange or tomato juice, sunshine, fresh air, a daily sponge followed by a brush rub with a coarse towel, regular hours for sleep and plenty of it; freedom from excitement, clothing adapted to the weather with special regard to sudden sharp changes of temperature are, among the essentials for normal growth and health."