Newspaper Clippings: Pike County Health Center, 1938

I see in the news that some legislators want the state department of health to save lots of money by going “back to the 1900s” and, instead of treating people in county health clinics, they could just hand out educational brochures and stuff. Today’s newspaper article, from 1938, may be too late in the 1900s to be of assistance in guiding this new/old approach, since it appears that actual health care by real physicians was intended at McComb’s health clinic.

On a more serious note, I had never heard of the Commonwealth Fund of New York and had no idea that they were building county health clinics. This makes them just one of several northern philanthropies, including Carnegie for libraries and Rosenwald for African American schools, making their mark on the Mississippi landscape in the form of new buildings in the early and mid 1900s.

The Commonwealth Fund’s Colonial Revival health clinic in McComb is now used as a city hall annex, and the health department has moved out to the highway, possibly into a remodeled grocery store at 114 Presley Blvd.

Pike County Health Center, McComb (1938), donated by the Commonwealth Fund of New York.

Dedicate Pike Health Center

Commonwealth Fund Director Presides at McComb Observance
McCOMB, June 10–Barry C. Smith, general director of the Commonwealth Fund of New York, formally dedicated the Pike county health center which was recently completed here as a gift from the Commonwealth Fund to Pike county.

The dedicatory service, held at the First Baptist church, was attended by a large crowd, including representatives of practically every governmental and civic group in the county.

Smith dedicated the building “to the spirit of cooperation which prevails between public health workers and physicians of Pike county,” commending these two groups for the program that has been made in this section.

Throughout the day a host of people thronged the Pike county health center, adjacent to the McComb city hall, inspecting its conveniences and its array of modern equipment. The building was opened to the public and members of the Pike county health department staff escorted groups through the rooms, explaining the function of each.

J. Oliver Emmerich served as master of ceremonies at the dedicatory service which began at 2 p.m., introducing Mayor Xavier A. Kramer for a brief welcoming talk. Mr. Smith was then introduced for the dedicatory address.

After Smith the following were introduced: Miss Barbara S. Quin, assistant director of the Commonwealth Fund; Dr. Clarence L. Scaman, director of the division of public health of the fund; Dr. W. F. Walker, director of the division of health studies of the fund; members of the state board of health; Dr. T. Paul Haney, Jr., director, and the staff of the Pike county health department.

Members of the board of supervisors were then presented after which the following members of the health center board of trustees were introduced: Mayor Xavier A. Kramer; City Commissioner A.B. Barclay, W.R. Watkins, High L. Simmons, W.C. Price, E.E. Stewart, E.C. Fortenberry, Stennis Johnson, Donald P. Dunn. City Commissioner W.O. Rutledge was also presented.

Today’s Pike County Health Department:

Categories: Hospitals/Medical, McComb


15 replies

  1. I wonder if the Pike County Clinic had a New York architect or a Mississippi architect?

    The Rockefeller Archive Center has a large collection of the Commonwealth Fund files. Apparently they maintained a program here from 1931-1947.

    Series 12: Division of Public Health, 1930-1952, 22 cu. ft. (FA284)

    Arrangement: Arranged in 3 subseries:

    General Files
    State Files
    Public Health Fellowships
    Fellowship files within this series are arranged alphabetically, first by state and then by last name of recipient.

    Biographical/Historical Sketch: The Commonwealth Fund announced in late 1929 a new project that began operation on January 1, 1930, and promoted rural health and medical service in the United States. The program, instead of emphasizing child care, comprised all health services in rural communities. Initially the project was limited to two states, Tennessee (1930-1945) and Massachusetts (1930-1945), and to two counties or districts in each state. Later the program was also active in Mississippi (1931-1947), Oklahoma (1938-1949), Alabama (1938-1942), Arkansas (1945-1947), California, Florida (1945-1947), Kentucky (1945-1947), Louisiana (1946), Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington. Dr. William J. French, the first director of the CF’s child-health demonstration in Fargo, North Dakota, and former head of the CF’s Austrian Program, was named director. French resigned his post on April 4, 1931, and on May 15, 1931, Clarence L. Scamman became the new director of the Division.

    The goals set forth were to create field units to promote rural health service and develop well-rounded health services. The work was conducted with the cooperation of the states’ health departments. The project also included the establishment of scholarships for graduate study by rural physicians and for nurses and teachers who wished to study methods of health education, and scholarships or loan funds for medical students who would undertake rural practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just found this clipping …
    Do we understand that if any community in Mississippi meets the conditions set forth it may too. secure one of the hospital under the basis prescribed by the Commonwealth Fund just as Tupelo did?” . Replying. Robert Jordan, associate director of the hospital division of the fund, said: “Any community meeting the eligibility requirements of our program may apply for assistance, but the funds we have available permit but one award per year. It is natural, therefore, that we should select for this award the community which appears to present the greatest need. There is no allocation of awards to particular states or areas, although we naturally prefer to distribute the awards as widely as possible throughout the country.”
    It will be recalled that the fund will put. up $200,000 to $275.000 in the eligible community selected that will supply $40.000 to $60.000, the site, and guarantee operating costs of the hospital.

    -Hattiesburg American February 7, 1938

    Apparently it was the 1936 tornado that delayed the construction of the commonwealth hospital in Tupelo.


  3. Here is the other part of the question answered.

    McComb, Dec. 17—Ground was broken Thursday for the construction of the Pike County health building which will be built adjacent to the McComb City Hall through a $60,000 gift from the Commonwealth Foundation of New York City. The building contract was awarded Dye and Mullins, Columbia contractors, and Ray Williams, McComb, today began excavation for the building under a subcontract.
    -Biloxi Daily Herald December 18, 1937

    Liked by 1 person

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