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Emily Gates oral history interview

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Emily Gates oral history interview
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University of South Florida -- Library. -- Special & Digital Collections. -- Oral History Program

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Oral history ( local )
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interviewed by Unknown Unknown.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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C53-00053 ( USFLDC DOI )
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Florida Public Health Oral History Project

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subfield code a C53-000532 USFLDC DOI0 245 Emily Gates oral history interviewh [electronic resource] /c interviewed by Unknown Unknown.500 Full cataloging of this resource is underway and will replace this temporary record when complete.Transcription and timecoding of this interview is underway and will be added when complete. At that time the audio link will be replaced with the OHPi player link (player supporting syncronized audio and full-text transcription).7 655 Oral history.localOnline audio.local710 University of South Florida.b Library.Special & Digital Collections.Oral History Program.1 773 t USF College of Public Health oral history project4 856 u http://digital.lib.usf.edu/?c53.53


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text Charlton E. Prather (CP): We have, this afternoon, Dr. Emily Gates, a pediatrician who practiced pediatrics all of her life. And she is not that old, but she came to Florida during, first, the Second World War years for some specialized purposes, but she departed Florida for some 20 years.
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But I like to think of her as having spent the important part of her professional career with the Florida public health organization. I know shell probably correct me on that, but I would emphasis the important part of her professional career. Dr. Gates, its truly a pleasure to have you here.
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And on behalf of the libraries at the University of South Florida and the College of Public Health of the University of South Florida, I say just a hearty, heart-warmed welcome and express the appreciation of us all that you would willingly come and sit and talk about the exciting days, and some of them not exciting, I know, but your days in Floridas public health movement.
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And I know that you had the opportunity to witness a lot of important things being done. And I happen to know for a fact that you would initiate a lot of things that became increasingly more important over time, and I hope that youll review some of those for us.
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Its just exciting, for me, to anticipate our conversation today about your career in Floridas public health. For my curiosity and our readers, we know that you spent a lot of time in California. And I want to think that you were born and raised in Minnesota. What in the world got you to Florida?
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CP: You were five years old? Marvelous.
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EG: It took awhile, but I finally got here.
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CP: That is marvelous. So what got you to Florida first was your grandparents. And I presume your mother brought you?
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EG: Yeah, and then she moved here. Her husband had died, and she moved to Florida. And it was lonely here, and I felt like it would be better if I could be somewhere near her. And the opportunity to work with the state board of health occurred to me. I hadnt asked for a job, but I thought, Ill go see what I can get.
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CP: Good. Remind me, I think that your dad and your mother were physicians.
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EG: No, my mother was a mathematical brain.
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EG: If the adding machine and mother didnt come out the same, we sent the adding machine to get fixed. But they ran a small hospital in Minnesota and that was why I thought I was qualified for the first job I got here.
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CP: With the state board of health? Tell me about that. Your mother lived where?
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EG: Minnesota and then moved to Lakeland. She moved to Lakeland.
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CP: Oh, she moved to Lakeland.
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CP: You wanted to come to be close to where she was.
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EG: I thought it was a good idea.
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CP: Yeah. I do too. I think thats a good idea. But you got here and then decided maybe you might want to go to work.
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EG: Oh, I knew I had to go to work. Somebody had to. She was on what was then retirement and my father had died quite young. And so they hadnt had any time to put things together. No, she had enough but, anyway, I knew that I needed to work because I couldnt justI had all this education, and I couldnt just loaf around. And I didnt want to.
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EG: Im trying to figure outI went to a clinic in Lakeland. And they didnt want me. I really thought they needed me because they didnt have
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CP: They probably did.
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EG: I found out later that they did. But they didnt want me. And so I thought, Well, I would apply to the state board of health and see what they had. And Lillian Marsh was head of the maternal and child health then.
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CP: Yes, I remember Lillian so well. Thank you for mentioning her name.
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EG: She was a very nice person. And she thought that I could do somewe had this EMIC program, Emergency Maternity and Infant Care, for the wives and children of the men in the lower four pay grades. Thats a mouthful.
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CP: Wow. Thats a mouthful.
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EG: We contracted it down to EMIC.
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CP: Im glad you called it EMIC.
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EG: And we did not have a Medicare or any of those things way back then. That was in 1945, a long time ago.
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CP: I can remember 1945.
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EG: But anyway, there were a few hospitals that would take these women and the kids, but they didnt know how to handle a per diem. They had to see what the per diem for taking care of these people. And they didnt know how to figure out the per diem.
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CP: They didnt know what a per diem was.
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EG: And I could talk to my mother about some of these things, and she could explain to me how I could explain to them what they needed to do. She was a real asset in this program.
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So we got a lot of the little hospitals inFlorida was an armed camp. In 1945, we were overwhelmed by the number of military people here and also their wives and children, and there had to be something done for them.
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And thats what we set about to make possible, that thered be proper care for these wives and children. And it was an interesting experience. I never had a better time in my life putting something together because I started from scratch.
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CP: Yeah, with nothing.
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EG: With nothing. And some government money, thats important.
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CP: Not much.
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EG: No, but it was enough to take care of these people. And I stayed with that, and during the time we were having thatsomething that I didnt do for you and meant to do was get in touch with vital statistics and find out the birthrate before this happened and after it. And I will do that and get it to you.
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CP: Okay, that would be interesting.
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EG: Yes, its important as part of this talk, but I just didnt get it ready because I didnt think about it until last night, just a little late. But I think thats important that we know. Because Im sure that it went up by several hundred.
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And while we were doing that, we worked with the county health departments to do a nutrition survey with theMarge Morrison was the person in nutrition that later became a very good friend of mine. And she came from Hawthorne, so she knew the central part of Florida, too.
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CP: Came from Hawthorne?
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EG: Thats right.
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CP: In Alachua County.
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EG: Thats right. And we planned a program in which we would interview people that lived all over Florida. In the southern counties and the west coast and all of them and find out what they were eating, first of all. And we found out that these kids, most of them were deficient in many, many things that grew right here, including cows milk.
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EG: They were not getting enough cows milk. And they had all sorts of deficiency conditions, which was a shock to us. We found that kids are living right in the middle of an orange grove would have a deficiency of vitamin C. And they might have cows at home, but they werent drinking milk.
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It was a good study, and we had a lot of cooperation from the county health departments. In fact, thats one of the brochures, one of the little journals that we had in which it tells what we did and shows some of the county health department people. And it really was a good study.
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And it was good enough so that the journal of the American Medical Association wrote it up and complimented us on it. We were really proud of that because they didnt compliment very many people about very much of anything. But anyway, that was noted in there.
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And it was a revelation to me about the problems that I needed to try and do something about. And it was an education to the health department people because they realized how they could focus in on these families and get them to feed their kids. And the whole families werent feeding, werent eating right.
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CP: And did it not surprise you that the county health departments werent somehow conscious of these deficits?
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EG: Well, they had a lot of other things on their minds, I guess, and it was
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CP: Im sure they did.
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EG: And nutrition was not a big force in the state planning either. When Millard Kaufman came, things changed. But they had not had the emphasis that they had later.
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CP: Yes, yes, yes. What did you do about it?
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EG: Well, we talked to the individual county health departments and got them to introduce more nutrition in their programs.
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CP: Nutrition education?
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EG: Um-hm. And that continued from then on. And then, next experience that I had was with theI realized I was losing my contact with the kids. I was getting away from what I had studied. I was getting away from the care of children, and I realized that I couldnt do that. Id spent too many years planning. And so I decided that I would leave, and I would go into private practice. And thats when I went to California.
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CP: Oh, okay. On our program of aid to mothers and children of soldiers of the lower four grades
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EG: Thats a mouthful.
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CP: Yeah. I dont feel like we came to closure on that. You had federal wartime money to pay for hospitalization and medical care
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EG: And we had to get the hospitals to agree and the physicians to agree to take these things. Because they werent sure that only wives were going to pay them either and that they were going to get this government money. And we explained to them how it was all organized and got their interests and their cooperation. It wasnt hard once it got started.
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CP: Uh, yeah. I can see that you had a sales job you had to do. And its largely focused around the hospitals around military bases, or was it kind of more widespread?
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EG: Well, the military bases were widespread.
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CP: Oh yes, much better than the cold, bureaucratic-looking, letter-headed letter. I understand, particularly at that time. And you spoke to the fact that you know it was successful from an infant mortality point of view. And you probably had the data to support that from a hard, vital statistics point of view.
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CP: Dont think you should have. Dont feel guilty that you didnt. But well accept that when you look up the numbers. But Id be very curious, and youre very curious, exactly what the numbers were at that time. How long did you participate in this?
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EG: For about four years.
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CP: Really? It wasnt all that long of service. After the Second World War closed, you were continuing to deal with this?
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EG: The bases were still here, and the families were still here. And the kids had to be taken care of, the mamas.
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CP: Yes, they did. Okay. All right, but an outgrowth of that was your recognition as a pediatrician that a lot of these kids are not nutritionally sound. So they get firm planning data, you all actually did a nutrition survey. And you came up with a statewide statistic. For my curiosity, was there any particular geographic clustering that you recognized?
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EG: Not really. We found out that kids living in the middle of an orange grove might have a vitamin C deficiency. And that they might have cows on their property, and they werent drinking milk.
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CP: And they were milking the cows, too. Giving the cows milk to the calves. Oh man. Okay, so now you decide your training was going to be wasted and you better get back into the practice of pediatrics. Now, I interrupted you about the time you were fixing to begin to talk about that.
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EG: Well, I realized that if I didnt do something that continued my skills, pretty soon I wouldnt be able to do intravenouses [sic] on little babies, things that I had spent so much time getting good at. And so I decided that I needed to go into practice.
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And I had an offer of a job near San Francisco. And I had relatives there. And I decided that it would be a good thing to go out there. And I was happy there for many, many years, but I
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CP: Did you have the smell of orange blossoms and thoseoh, shootthe pretty flowers? Did you have that in California? Well, dont say that out loud. Dont say you actually had it in California.
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CP: And you had your smell of orange blossoms and the bougainvillea, I think you said. They have bougainvillea in California?
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EG: Beautiful.
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EG: Its lovely country, and I practiced there very successfully. I have a story I have to tell you because I didnt knowI had a job in San Francisco. And the week before I got out there, with everything here sold and so on, they had passed a new law that nobody could start practice in the San Francisco area unless they had been there before the war.
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Which was fair to them, but it was bad for a little girl who had just sold everything she owned in Florida and moved out there. And it was embarrassing to the doctor that was going to hire me. And I thought, What on earth do I do?
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And I had a cousin that lived in Stockton in the valley. And I went over there grieving over this problem, and I thought, What shall I do? And I thought, Well, I came from a health department. Ill go to the health officer here. And I went to Dr. Sippy and he said, Theres a doctor here in town thats starting a clinic, and I think hed hire you.
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And he did. And I stayed there for ten years. And he was great to me. And there were lots of Mormons lived in that particular area. And he was the son of the main Mormon realtor had measles, measles pneumonia, and it was going to kill him. And I was going to give him a massive dose of penicillin.
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And none of the nurses would give it because they thought I was going to kill him. Well, I knew that if I didnt do that his disease was going to kill him. And so, I gave it, and the next morning, he was almost well. The benefits of penicillin, you know.
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CP: Penicillin was truly a miracle drug and still is.
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EG: After that, I had every Mormons kid in my practice. The doctor said that I had paid my way faster than anybody he had ever hired. But anyway, thats water over there.
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CP: Thats a good story, I think.
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And so, I went and talked to him and told him that I had been in practice, but I would like to get into research and some of the things that bothered me. And he hired me, and I stayed there for a long time. But then I got the itch to come back to Florida. The sand in my shoes, I never could get it all out.
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CP: And the orange blossom just smells much better here.
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EG: They do.
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CP: Yes, they do.
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And so, I wrote a letter to him and told him that I would like to come back. And it was very opportune because the encephalitis research center had just lost its epidemiologist. Don Quick was leaving to go do something else, and they needed epidemiologists. So they hired me. And the main thing was to get here as soon as I could, soon as I could. And then that was inthe main focus of it was Pinellas County.
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CP: Do you mind telling us where the encephalitis research center is? Thats a new term.
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And it was killing, mostly, older people. And it was a very serious disease. And they needed fulltime attention to that. And they had a little building where the people that worked there lived. And they gave us that whole building.
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CP: For an office and lab? Did you have a laboratory?
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EG: There.
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CP: Okay.
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EG: But actually, they realized that we hadJohnny Mulrennan who was the mosquito man.
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CP: Entomologist, state entomologist.
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And it was a mosquito that lived where people did. And a lot of these are older people that were retired, and they had their gardens and they had all sorts of things sitting around with water in them, and they were just the place were mosquitoes to come.
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And I cant remember, all told, how many people were involved in that epidemic, but it was a very big one. And it involved Pinellas County, primarily, and around a park there and people that lived in that area. And then it involved Hillsborough County, Sarasota and Manateethose were the prime counties that were involved. And I did the work in the hospitals and wherever, in the health departments, in those four counties particularly.
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CP: Okay, and what was your job?
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EG: I went to see all the people that had it. And I did the follow-up work on the blood work. And I remember, I had thought I was pretty good bleeding babies. It wasnt any easier bleeding these old people because their veins are harder to get into than some of those babies.
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CP: Oh, they run all over the place, dont they?
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And we had a coupleI particularly remember one child from a nearby county that had eastern encephalitis, and he was a little three-year-old, and was totally ruined, just totally ruined. And I have never forgot that little boy because he, just from a mosquito bite, totally
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CP: Just a mosquito bite.
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EG: And a lot of the older people were badly brain damaged too. It was a hard time, and it was hard to see these people. And part of my job was going out and bleeding them in the home and bringing back in samples to see whether the levels were going down or what was happening with the blood levels.
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But it was a fascinating job, and I had a good time doing it. And I have to tell you, the first day that I went to work they were writing, Dr. [Albert V.] Hardy was and Dr. [James O.] Bond, who was my boss, they writing a paper about this. And they were using words thatI had been in research in California too, at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles]. But I didnt know what some of these words meant. I just kept my mouth shut. I acted very wise.
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And the next morning, I came in with my medical dictionary, and I was going to be able to ride back to my office and find out what it was that they were talking about (CP laughs), not show how ignorant I felt. But anyway
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CP: Well, your research was not in the mosquito stuff, entomology, and I suspect that was a totally new vocabulary.
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CP: How did that to mumpspardon me, you were doing mump research
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EG: Dr. Adams, who was my boss there, was interested in mumps and a possible relationship to something else he was interested in. And I was getting blood for them, but we were talking something entirely different. It had nothing to do with mosquitoes.
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CP: No, I cant imagine. I cannot imagine.
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EG: It was a far cry from what I was involved in. I didnt know words that, within a week, common everyday words to me. But by the time Id been there a week, I knew what they were talking about. I was glad I did. But that was a fascinating experience.
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CP: How long did you stay there? How long did you stay with the encephalitis research center? Its my impression that its no longer there.
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EG: No, the governor could notwell, somehow, the idea was not sold to him. I could have sold him on the idea, but it wasnt my place to.
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CP: But you werent allowed to travel to Tallahassee. I understand.
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EG: Well, I could go to Tallahassee, but I couldnt actually bear the governor in his den, and tell him what I thought about what he was doing. And he had been made to think that it was not a proper thing to continue. And so, it was defunct in a couple of years.
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It was a sad, sad thing because there was another research center that would have worked together with it, and they should have been kept together. But foresight isnt something that everybody has. Sometimes just the people that are in the field are the ones that have the foresight. And if they dont have access to the people that are making the decisions
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CP: And thats not often the case.
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EG: Thats right. But anyway
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EG: Well, people couldnt have lived in Florida if it hadnt been for mosquito control, and this had been started a long time ago. And there was a great deal of effort, emphasis, put on mosquito control. But then this outbreak focused the need for further effort and, I figured, increased the effort on mosquito control.
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And we educated people to not do the things that were drawing the mosquitos around their homes. And we tried to keep people out of the areas where the mosquitoes were worst.
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CP: I remember a program in that, about that period, called Fight the Bite. Do you remember that?
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EG: Yes, I remember now that you mentioned it.
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CP: Fight the Bite. And it was to fight the bite of the mosquito and a major public educational activity. Fight the Bite. I just hadnt thought about that in 40 years.
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EG: I havent thought about that at all, but it is right. It was a good slogan. And mosquitos liked me. Any of the repellants were great friends of mine because theyd [the mosquitos] would take one look at me and say, Ah, good.
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CP: They liked your blood type.
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EG: Thats right.
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EG: I dont know where it first came from, why it was brought here.
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CP: Yeah, which is the first: the chicken or the egg? Im not asking that question.
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EG: In kids, mostly. And actually
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CP: Being a Californian, I guess you would pick up on that pretty quick.
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EG: I did because they were having a conference in California a couple of years later, and I was able to take our cases of California encephalitis, which hadnt come from Florida, they came from North Carolina. (CP laughs)
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When we traced back, because I went up there for a little vacation and went to the hospitals and researched some of these cases and found out that they had become sick and been infected up there and not in Florida. That was interesting.
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CP: Yeah, thats of interest. Ill let you go back to California now. And youre researching the mumps, and youre visiting the coroners in which you were gathering blood. Who were you gathering blood from?
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EG: Tissue.
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CP: Tissue in the coroners office.
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EG: Tissue in the coroners office. I had always been interested in sudden infant death because I had the feeling that a death in my own family that preceded me was a SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome], and so little was known about it. And I thought that anything that we could do that would shed some light on it would help.
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And Dr. Adams was good. He helped me get a grant, and I had a grant to go to the coroners office and get tissues
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CP: From infants? From SIDS babies?
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EG: From SIDS babies to try and find out if we could isolate any one particular organism that these babies had. Well, we never got anything like that. And subsequent studies have shown that we still dont know. And while were on the subject, they think now that the position that the babys put down in may have to do with whether it dies or not because these are usually healthy, healthy children.
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CP: Thats my memory, that a SIDS death is typically a healthy child otherwise.
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EG: Its a shock.
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EG: Thats right. And often these are young people, and theyve never had any death in their family or anything, and theyve had no contact with their parents. And theyre totally at a loss. Its a sad, sad time. It devastates families.
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But anyway, we didnt isolate any particular viruses from them, and we had hoped we would. But I worked for that for a couple of years. And that was exciting going down to the coroners office in Central LA in the middle of the night all by myself.
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CP: Theyre still the busiest one in the United States.
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EG: And they were interesting. They were always very nice to me. And they helped me get my specimens and all. But sometimes driving home to the university, to the lab, in the middle of the night was harrowing. I wasnt always happy. (CP laughs) But it didnt do anything for us.
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CP: But you continued your SIDS interest forever. But you never grew out of that, as I remember.
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EG: No, we were able to get a SIDS project started here in Florida, when I was in Tallahassee. That was one of the best things we did while I was there.
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CP: Wait a minute. Youve lost me.
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EG: Ive lost myself.
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EG: Oh, well I came backI have to look at this because Ive had such a scattered career.
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CP: Youve just confused me because were talking about your going to the coroners office in LA, and then here, suddenly, youre talking about activities in Tallahassee. And I hadnt got you back to Tallahassee yet.
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EG: Well anyhow, I dont know what year we moved to Tallahassee, frankly. And I didnt have anything in my research that told me when I went there either. We were transferred
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CP: If youll let me help you
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EG: Yeah, I need help.
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CP: You came back to Tallahassee to the ERC, to the encephalitis research center
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EG: Thats Jacksonville.
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CP: Oh, back to Jacksonville. You went to Tampa in 63, then, after that, after the encephalitis center folded, you came back to Jacksonville? Or did you go to California in the interim? You come back here from Tampa? You came to Jacksonville from Tampa?
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EG: Yeah.
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CP: So you stayed with the board of health?
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EG: All the time I was in Florida I was with the state board of health.
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CP: Okay, Im getting the picture.
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EG: And somewhere along the way they moved us to Tallahassee.
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EG: I do have the right date down here.
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CP: The law said that we shall operate in Tallahassee as of July 1st, 1976. And you probably moved over several days before that.
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EG: Well, we had gotten a better handle on SIDS because, through our vital statistics, we were able to have a specific coding that was for just babies that were found dead like that.
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CP: Oh, in the vital statistics?
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CP: Death, coding of death.
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EG: They could report it that way. And I think it wasit wasnt SIDS but it was something similar to that, and we were one of the first states that got a designation on our death certificates that helped us to identify it, and we began to understand how many babies there were that
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CP: That was the first opportunity to look at the statewide figures.
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EG: Thats right, thats right. And they were being signed out all sorts of different ways because nobody knew what to say. But we had a good way of controlling that. And the next year was a great year for Florida because, for the first time ever, we had a count on the babies that were found dead like that.
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CP: Let us, for the record, determine the date of that first year. Was this after you moved to Tallahassee?
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EG: No, that was before. I really didnt feel like
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CP: Thats an important date for future historians, is the first year that we really had some sort of handle on the numbers of SIDS deaths in Florida. S-U-D-I-s, SUDIs.
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EG: They could use that as
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CP: An acceptable death certificate diagnosis. To say that I really dont know what caused the death of this kid.
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EG: Thats right. And it was sudden, unexpected, infant death.
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CP: Yes, yeah. And that was 68. Today, they feel like they got a very accurate count of the number of deaths occurring.
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CP: Thats the important date, 1968, so, thanks.
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EG: And then, when we got to Tallahassee, one of the big programs there was WIC [Women, Infants, and Children].
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{{{00:38:48.4}}}EG: Women, Infants, and Children. A feeding program for women, infants, and children.
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CP: Okay.
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EG: And Mildred Kaufman who has always been a good friend of mine, was in charge of that.
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EG: Nutritionist. And I have always had a good relationship with nutritionists. And she needed help to get her program going. And we had some federal money that we could
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CP: Now, who is we in this case?
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EG: Well, I for one and Paul Boyser, who was one of my workers and a real, real fine young man.
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{{{00:39:44.0}}}EG: Yeah. And we were able to loan Mildred, Ms. Kaufman, Paul, to help get things started. He was good with finances, and he helped get that program rolling and worked well with her. And she always has had a great respect for Paul.
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EG: Well, actually, it was an effort to get proper food to needy women and children.
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CP: Oh, in a nutshell thats what it was. Could you provide money or did you just provide education, or you provided motivation?
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EG: We provided a means for her to do the educating because she had the nutrition staff in the county health departments to get out and do this kind of education. And Paul was able to work with her to help get these things done because she did not have the funds.
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And when we decided he could go work with her, we werent sure we wouldnt go to jail. Truly, we werent sure that this was within out premise to do this. But we decided it had to be done. And actually, WIC is still going.
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CP: Yes, it is. And its a major, very effective, very valuable programmatic trust today.
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EG: Thats right. And we recognized how good it was. We wanted to help, and I think we did.
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CP: Good. For our readers, I mean, for our listeners, those who have an interest in this subject, let me tell you that Ms. Kaufman that Dr. Gates is referring to has been interviewed on this same series and she speaks, to some length, about the WIC program. Thats an editorial addition, Dr. Gates.
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EG: Thats good because I have seen her tape.
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{{{00:41:52.1}}}EG: And I know that she was proud of that program. She has done a lot of real good things in nutrition in Florida.
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CP: Yes, a lot of innovative stuff she did. But I didnt mean to get you off track.
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EG: Well, we knew that we
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CP: During your tenure, I just want to put some words in your mouth. I seem to recall you wrote what is now the school health act of Florida. Did you not write that act? Say yes.
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EG: Yes.
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CP: Yes, you did. That is now the guide and really a model for the United States. The school health act of Florida.
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EG: Ive got the Planning and Staffing a School Health Program.
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CP: There you go, right there.
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EG: Which we put together, as a manual, and its used in many, many places. But it tells how you get together a program. And it tells what nurses to have and what
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CP: Now, if I had a listener that really wanted to get a hold of that manual, where might it be found?
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EG: In any county health department, Im sure.
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CP: Okay. And the title again is?
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EG: Planning and Staffing a School Health Program.
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CP: Okay, good.
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EG: I dont know what they call it today, but it hasnt changed too much because thats what its all about.
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CP: Thats right. I interrupted you. While you were still here, school health programming became a priority issue.
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EG: Well, we realized that, although we had statewide facilities, we did not have a well-organized school health program.
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CP: So true.
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And then we even had school health aides. We had everything that could be part of a school health program. Its really a very good booklet.
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CP: Yeah, and its a good program. But its not operating, in my impression, as you envisioned it and as it got started because money, some availability of resource, got in the way.
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But remind me, during those days of your developing the school health program, the director of school health services for the department of education, a young man, help me with his name, just a super guy that left Florida and went to the US Department of Education. But within the department of education
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EG: He got his training here.
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CP: Thats correct. He got his training here, and he was a graduate, I think, of the University of Florida. But he was a Floridian. But he was so outstanding, and Im coming to a
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EG: Im sorry. I cant pull the name up.
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CP: I want to remember his name. He gave me a windmill, by the way, with the pump mechanism of a windmill. I wanted you to help me. But the point that I want to make with him, on an occasion at either the Florida Medical Association Meeting or a meeting of the Florida Public Health Association, it was my privilege to be in your hotel room.
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In some hotel in Miami Beach, in which you and the man that Im trying to think of were going back over a final draft of a bill that the department of education was going to do all in their power to get introduced. He came there on an airplane. You all stayed up all blasted night getting this bill and he preceded back to Tallahassee, did all the proper stuff, and it got introduced that year. It didnt get passed that year.
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That bill, dont you remember that? Thats is terribly important. That law, the Florida law, became a model for the nation for school health programming. And just to have such a vivid memory of you and him working so hard on that bill. Youre sitting there writing. You were doing sentence structure on that bill. And I was privileged to be witness to all of that myself, personally. Dont you forget that. Thats terribly important.
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EG: I wont forget it, but it was probably in the middle of the night.
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CP: It was.
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CP: But it wont come out.
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CP: He drove Porsches, by the way.
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EG: He went up in the Carolinas someplace, I think.
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CP: Its kind of an interim, but he ultimately left here and joined the US Department of Education because he and I maintained some contacts over some different issues because, in the interim, I changed capacities from the day of that bill.
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CP: Yes, to our issues. But I got you totally off track. You went back in Tallahassee. You were about to talk about the emergence, your personal emergence, into matters of schools health. And a lot went on before we got to that booklet, as I want to remember.
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EG: I was always deeply involved in school health.
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CP: Yes, you were.
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EG: And the people thatbecause it was for the kids.
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CP: In fact, you were rather dogged about your attitudes towards school health.
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EG: You had to be. You had to be. If youre going to get anywhere, as a public person
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CP: Youve got to have a lot of tenacity and a thick skin.
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EG: Thats right. Thats the hard part. It was always hard for me to develop a thick skin.
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EG: Well, I didnt show that. I didnt fade.
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CP: No, its not nice to show it.
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EG: No.
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EG: Yeah, we tried hard though, and I think most of the things that we worked on have borne fruit.
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EG: I think of things we worked so hard to make happen and, in general, they happened.
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CP: Yes. It took perseverance on the part of at least one person to see to it that it is not forgotten in the shuffle-buffle of the altering priorities. And you were very good at that.
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EG: I was dogged.
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CP: But theres a lot more now, even. You continued with your interest in school health, but you got that on an even keel and got other people, and it went to doing good. It got funded, the bill got funded, in due course, a very sizable little piece for a couple of years. They kind of put a lot of this into place but then the funding went bap, went off.
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Oh man, we lost the funding. When you lose the funding, you lose priority focus, and so you have to bend with the tide, but you never let anybody forget that school health is critical and it must be a first priority, still, in spite of the fact you guys are not giving it any money.
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CP: You done good, too. You done good. Now, youve moved to Tallahassee, and you carried your interest in school health to Tallahassee. Because we are now close to the department of health. We could have direct access to them.
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And there was the school health advisory committee that you were very involved with. And it was mostly you, a nutritionist from our house, and a whole bunch of folks from the department of education. Something called the school health advisory committee that I think you were responsible for getting started.
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EG: That was part of the Florida Medical Association.
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CP: Oh, it was?
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EG: I mean, we had a school health advisory committee. Well, all the last years that I worked with the state board of health, we had a lot of help from the School Health Advisory Committee of the Florida Medical Association.
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And we always had a member, we always had somebody meeting with us, and that was very meaningful because it played back to the organization and what we were trying to do. And we had their support for many of the things that we were trying to do.
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CP: Valuable to have FMA support. FMA. Florida Medical Association. Im glad you reminded me of that. I dont think they have such a committee anymore.
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EG: I was thinking about that the other day in connection with this and wondering if
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CP: What happened to them?
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EG: Wondering, what did happen to it?
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CP: And I can tell you it was a budgetary issue and a reorg [reorganization]. When they began to have trouble with money, its one of the things that left.
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EG: Well, it wasnt expensive. It shouldnt have
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CP: They combined their councils. If you remember, FMA was organized for many years around something called councils. And there was a council on public health care, theres a council on public health, which had a whole bunch of committees, one of which was the committee on school health, another was the committee on public health, another was the committee on emergency medical services.
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EG: Well, Dr. Knox was the person from Miami.
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EG: That was a pediatrician.
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CP: Longtime chairperson.
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EG: Wonderful person. He was a great help. We got senttheres something in Washington about children, I forget the title of it, but, anyway, he was in such a hurry to make his plane that he forgot his coat. Ive never forgotten that. And it was cold up there. Poor man. Yeah, when you leave Florida to go to Washington, DC, you need a coat. And he didnt have it.
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CP: There was a time
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EG: But he was a wonderful person and a great help to all school things.
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EG: Yeah.
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CP: Yeah, it had been. But you immediately learned how to utilize that committee for the broader, happier purpose. And it was that forum that brought public health, Florida Medical Association, and department of education together on common grounds. And in fact, I hadnt thought about that committee in a long time. But they were still active up to the rest of your career, I think.
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And Im not remembering when it disappeared, but it disappeared at the same time as the council on specialty medicine disappeared with the major reorg [reorganization] of the Florida Medical Association is where it went. And the basis of that was money, for your interest. Paying all those council members for travel.
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EG: Well, they didnt take a lot of travel, for a lot of people.
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CP: No, and we traveled on our own budgets.
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{{{00:55:04.0}}}CP: The state board of health paid our travel to attend those things, which are so important to the publics health. But the FMA had to pay their members to come and a lot of other councils. Well, were back in Tallahassee now and your career with organized public health, as a salaried person, did not end with school health.
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CP: So keep talking.
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EG: Well, that was the main accomplishment. Im trying to think of all these things that I have down here.
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CP: You can just get your crib notes out and begin to tick them off.
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EG: Well, Ive got EMIC and nutrition survey, encephalitis research center, the SIDS project, WIC, school health servicesoh, we got an organization going, a funded organization for SIDS, that did a lot of good in orienting people in Florida to the cause of SIDS, and they published a number of things.
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EG: Its wonderful.
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CP: Because Ill remind you that my [nick] name is Skeeter. You know that, dont you?
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EG: Yes, Skeeter.
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EG: Mos-skeeter?
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CP: Yeah.
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CP: Three-dimensional?
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EG: Its three-dimensional. And it fascinated me so, that I had to keep it. And I kept it all these years.
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EG: No, I dont.
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CP: Okay, thanks.
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EG: But anyhow, its a marvelous thing, and I hope that sometime there would be a place to put it. And now I understand were going to have our fabulous building.
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EG: Fell apart.
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CP: But thanks to the legislature and the federal government, the building is now being refurbished back to its 1923 beauty, including the fireplaces in every room.
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EG: Oh, its going to be nice.
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CP: Yeah. But the legislature has seen fit to designate that building the Florida Medical and Public Health Museum, with some designations as of how it shall be used. It is also, for your interest, formally named by an act of the legislature, the Wilson T. Sowder Building.
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{{{00:58:47.9}}}CP: I am too. And this mosquito, an appropriate resting place for that, that mosquito you have will be in this museum. So please hang on to it.
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EG: Oh, Ive kept it all these years, I wouldnt lose it now.
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CP: And make sure it comes to this place. Too, as a further commercial announcement, any of the artifacts reflective of Florida public health history, our museum-to-be is an appropriate repository for that. I hope youll see fit to give it, to give your things.
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EG: I mentioned to Dr. Prather earlier that I had a whole cabinet full of stuff that Ive saved, and I havent known what to do with it, and now, I know.
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CP: Oh, great.
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EG: And I wont throw them away, Ill bring them. Whenever they tell me that its time.
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CP: All right. And we dont know at this point.
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EG: And Ms. Scarborough, who was Nichols in her public health days, will be glad to get that cabinet empty so that they can use it for their purposes.
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CP: I can understand that. Let me go back to your career a minute though. Because Im remembering in Tallahassee that you had a formal title; it was something to the effect of director of child health services or administrator of the office of childrens health or something like that.
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EG: You know, I tried to figure out, and Ive got some scraps of paper here. And I maybe can find it. Administrator child health section, division of health. No, thats not it.
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CP: No, not division of health.
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{{{1:00:35.8}}}EG: Maybe its in one of these things?
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CP: Okay. Do you remember anything you did while in that capacity?
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EG: No. We tried to develop the school health program.
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CP: Well for history for such a benefit this consolation may be to you, no major administrator will look back on our HRS [Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services] days as a period of much accomplishment in the field of public health.
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CP: Painful transition.
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EG: We tried.
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EG: Thats right. We all tried, and we survived it.
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CP: Yeah, we did. We survived.
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EG: We still have the function.
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CP: And we still have the enthusiasm and interest. And theres a lot of the oldsters that are still around plugging along, that are in positions totheres not many of us who were actually there still around.
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EG: Well actually, every once in awhile, if Im around the state, Ill eat in a restaurant or something, and Ill see somebody that I recognize from my public health days. And Im a little reticent about going over, but I go over and introduce myself.
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And they look just as shocked as I was to see them. And its fun. And then we have a reminiscing time about all the things we tried to do and a lot of the things we did. I think the important thing to remember in a session like this is how much we did accomplish.
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EG: No, because we got these things done.
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EG: I was thinking about the sudden infant death syndrome. We developed and we had an organization going and funded, federally funded, in Tallahassee, and its statewide. I dont know just the situation of it right now but we developed so there was some nurse in every county health department that knew as much as we could funnel into this person about SIDS.
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CP: Ah, very good.
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EG: And so, that if it happens to a county person, there was a place where we could refer this poor pathetic little family to.
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EG: And they didnt think that the family did it. And that could persuade all the neighbors that the poor little mother didnt do it. Its such a sad thing, and it so hard on the family.
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CP: And its still sad.
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{{{1:03:43.4}}}CP: In spite of what we know because, as you said
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EG: Because it means a death.
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{{{1:03:50.0}}}CP: And I know two of those families, personally, in Tallahassee. And it is so tough on the parents because their guilt. They feel so guilty.
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EG: I think this is what happened to my brother that preceded me by five years. And I think when my mother was in her 80s, I convinced her that it wasnt her fault.
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{{{1:04:18.8}}}EG: Oh, she always had this feeling. They always do. And so much was coming out about it, and when she was in her early 80s, she talked to me about it. And my father died when he was 55, and she had sacrificed to see me through medical school because it wasnt easy, and she was a couple of years younger. And she was always my good friend.
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She told me, when she was real old, You have been a good daughter. And, I think thats the nicest thing anybody ever said to me because I tried. But Im just a girl, and two women in the same house dont always get along. I didnt saynobody, they said, Oh, your mother lived with you? No, I said, I lived with my mother.
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CP: I like that.
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EG: Its true. But we had a lot of fun, and all these transcontinental trips and things that I took, and when I got out to California expecting this fantastic job and didnt have a job. She didnt hold it against me.
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CP: That could be awas she with you?
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EG: I aint got no job.
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CP:  I aint got no job. (Both laugh) That would be cute. Tell me about all these things youve got in your lap there that youre holding. Tell me about those.
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CP: Okay. It looks like a lot of interesting
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EG: This one, about [Florida] Health Notes. This is the nutrition survey.
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400
01:06:15.1
EG: Ill tell you about them.
401
01:06:15.6
CP: Oh good. Tell me the issue number.
402
01:06:19.2
403
01:06:24.4
404
01:06:29.3
EG: Um-hm. It tells nutrition survey number
405
01:06:31.4
406
01:06:32.8
EG: Um-hm. And it even has a picture of me in it.
407
01:06:36.1
CP: Oh marvelous.
408
01:06:40.0
EG: [Referring to picture] There.
409
01:06:41.0
410
01:06:46.3
411
01:06:49.0
CP: Oh, you look at least 16 there.
412
01:06:51.0
EG: Yeah, I was 18 from the back but anyway, and good pictures of the county health department people. Its really a really nice issue. And thats Marge Morrisons picture.
413
01:07:3.6
CP: Yes. For our listeners, Florida Health Notes, a longtime publication of the old Florida State Board of Health, actually from 1889 until the department of HRS declared that we not spend money on such things anymore in 1976 so continual monthly publication on health issues.
414
01:07:27.6
And this one can be found in the major libraries of Florida because they all were given copies. Copies of the Florida Health Notes can be found at the state library and in most major libraries of Florida.
415
01:07:42.9
416
01:07:48.2
CP: Oh all right, Florida Health Notes on encephalitis.
417
01:07:54.0
EG: And Man, Mosquitoes, and Microbes.
418
01:07:56.7
CP: With a mosquito on the front.
419
01:07:57.9
420
01:07:59.9
CP: Right. Well take a picture of that one. Let me hold the mosquito one, and well put that on tape for everybody to see.
421
01:08:13.6
422
01:08:16.7
CP: Ill help you pick them up.
423
01:08:18.6
EG: Thank you. Thats the mosquito.
424
01:08:22.3
CP: Yeah, yeah. And well put that on tape in some part of your presentation. Theres our mosquito, all right.
425
01:08:32.3
EG: And this is another interesting one. This wasnt [Florida] Health Notes. This was 1962. [Reading] Mosquitoes, animals, man versusits an interesting one too.
426
01:08:45.2
CP: Oh, Floridas program for encephalitis control is the name of this.
427
01:08:50.3
EG: And this is the other one.
428
01:08:51.5
CP: Oh, other encephalitis. Okay, [reading] the problem of encephalitis in Florida. [end reading] This was put out by the state board of health. It was an informational brochure, obviously, not a Florida Health Note.
429
01:09:4.6
430
01:09:8.5
431
01:09:12.5
EG: Thats right.
432
01:09:14.2
CP: Man, for the record, well take a picture of this, and I suspect that could be found in the libraries as well. Okay, what else do you got?
433
01:09:23.2
EG: Well, Ive got the one on crib deaths.
434
01:09:27.8
435
01:09:33.1
EG: Yeah, because its happening today just like it was years ago. And we still dont know
436
01:09:38.0
CP: The incidence hasnt fallen, has it?
437
01:09:39.8
EG: Well, a little bit. They think that when they are teaching people to lay
438
01:09:46.3
CP: To lay babies in a different way.
439
01:09:47.4
440
01:09:54.1
CP: Its not that common of a disease. Okay, these are very useful and valuable things. It gives me the opportunity to make a nonpaid commercial announcement about the Florida Health Notes. For your interest, do you remember Bob Schoonover, the editor of these?
441
01:10:13.4
EG: He did a good, good, good job.
442
01:10:15.5
CP: Im sure he would be please to hear that. I talked to him last week.
443
01:10:19.4
444
01:10:20.0
CP: If we can make arrangements. He lives in Pennsylvania.
445
01:10:23.9
EG: Oh my goodness.
446
01:10:24.9
447
01:10:31.0
EG: Oh good. He was a nice person. Tell him that I have lots of these, that Ive saved them.
448
01:10:36.5
CP: Hes probably the only living person that can really speak to the history of Florida Health Notes from 1889 on. And I hope well be able to interview Bob, too. All right, what have we left out?
449
01:10:51.1
EG: I think weve touched most of it. This is my curriculum vitae you asked me for.
450
01:11:1.0
CP: And you gave me a copy, didnt you?
451
01:11:3.0
452
01:11:3.5
CP: Well, I want that one if you didnt give me another copy.
453
01:11:6.7
454
01:11:15.4
CP: Okay. Its nice to have a friend that keeps up with you so well.
455
01:11:26.7
456
01:11:28.6
CP: Okay. And you dont see anything there we need to highlight?
457
01:11:31.8
EG: You can look through it and see if you see anything.
458
01:11:33.6
459
01:11:53.1
EG: Thats right. I had a checkered career. I went back and forth from here to California.
460
01:11:59.9
CP: Youve got a very impressive list of publications here, I can tell. Ill just mention that you, the reader, can see that shes a published lady in refereed journals, if you need to read about
461
01:12:12.4
EG: Yeah, they are good journals.
462
01:12:15.5
CP: Yeah. Good, good. We want this. All right, then, on behalf of the library at University of South Florida and the College of Public Health, Dr. Gates, this has truly been an exciting moment of reviewing with you your exciting history with public health, and with Florida public health in particular.
463
01:12:38.0
And on behalf of all those and future lookers, folks who will be watching this tape in the future, I just say thank you so much for sharing your time and sharing your life with us. And we think, over time, it will have increasing value, the tape will, for the coverage.
464
01:12:54.3
EG: Thank you for inviting me to do this because I had a lot of fun getting ready.
465
01:12:58.3
CP: Good, it is fun kind of getting ready. And today is February 12, 2002, and I am Skeeter Prather.



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