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Laboratory among all our towns. It was thus desired to familiarize the health officers with the work which the Laboratory was designed to do, and to demonstrate to them its possibilities. So should all our people reap its full benefits.
The Laboratory was established in 1898; this School held its first session the following summer. The program of the first School included four sessions devoted to demonstrations of the work at the Laboratory. The functions of the public health laboratory ten years ago were not as well understood as at the present day. Many of our health officers and many physicians were then unfamiliar with the bacteriological findings in diphtheria, typhoid fever, malaria and even tuberculosis, or the importance of the Laboratory in water and food analyses. So Dr. Linsley, whose enthusiasm in the work we must always remember, made this really a "school of instruction," and was himself its energetic teacher.
The School was an innovation in practical sanitation; it was an experiment. No other state had then taken such a step. The experiment was a success from the first, and its success was so evident that the succeeding legislature legalized the School, in an amended Laboratory Act, and provided for its maintenance. It is proper that at the opening of this, the Tenth Annual School of Instruction, we should take this hasty glance at its history.
This School has done what it was intended to do, and more, for our public health work. We have had, as many of you are aware, the best instructors the country afforded. Specialists in some lines of public health work have been here every year, and the local health officers of Vermont have generally profited by their teachings. The technical instruction we have received has been valuable, and perhaps as valuable have been the opportunities the School has furnished for conference and comparison of notes. We have all done better work along these lines, and our work has been more uniform.
We have learned here that town lines are imaginary lines where unhealthful influences and contagious disease are concerned, and that collectively we are responsible for the health of the state.
We have, I believe, steadily become less selfish in our zeal for the good of our individual towns, and more neighborly as we have become acquainted with each other.
So much for the past. What of the future? Our Vermont sanitation is not yet perfect. Our sickness and death rates from preventable disease are still too large. It is not enough that these rates have in many instances been cut in two, that our people suffer less from nuisances injurious to the public health, that we have better schoolhouses, purer water, and cleaner and more honest foods. We all know the limit is not reached in these directions.
Perhaps the greatest need of the time in furthering public health work in Vermont and elsewhere, is the active sympathy of the public; a
sympathy which will not only tolerate health regulations, but insist on them.
This School should be a fountain-head for sanitation, whose teachings should reach, through us, every hamlet in Vermont.
Even as the Laboratory was formally dedicated by law to the people, so this School is for their benefit. Both are public health institutions.
The spirit of sanitation is abroad in the land. It is a cheering sign of the times that the press and social and literary clubs and societies are oftener lending their influence to the diffusion of authentic sanitary knowledge.
Popular sentiment, popular demand in this country are the supreme law. These are potent spurs to official vigilance and activity. They cannot be ignored. Health laws are less unpopular than formerly, if not really more popular. The same public sentiment that renders our school laws, our liquor laws, our game laws effective, is bound to demand the enforcement of these health laws that more than all others vitally affect our homes and persons. Just so far as we are able to demonstrate to the public that preventive legislation does prevent those ills which are the common foes of humanity, shall we be able to enlist that public in our cause. The health laws must be founded on a popular demand else they are bound to be a dead letter Our present health laws are much the same as those of our neighboring states. These laws have multiplied rapidly during the last two decades, for modern sanitary science is the product of these twenty years. We have laws enough, and our energies should now be directed to perfecting these and securing their enforcement. This School should foster obedience to law. It is a poor law that is binding on our neighbors, but exempts us. There is no surer test of good citizenship than one's willingness to submit gracefully to health regulations, to suffer temporary hardships for the common good.
In the universal crusade for pure water, clean milk and honest foods, we in Vermont must do our part. Regulations dealing with these subjects are an innovation and are apt to jar our preconceived ideas, as an invasion of individual or corporate rights. Yet we know, from the teachings of this School, that these are matters of public health, and that our private business interests are of secondary importance to the health of all.
Each advance in sanitary administration is bound to meet strenuous objections. Each such advance requires patience and tact on the part of the officers of the law. Such patience and tact should result from our intercourse at these Schools.
The public is entitled to our confidence in all these matters; our official acts should bear the fullest publicity. The present Laboratory law authorizes the State Board to publish “a periodical giving the results of the work done at the Laboratory and the approved methods for the protection of the public health, and such publication shall be furnished free to health officers.” This periodical, The Bulletin, is utilized for the purpose of giving the health officers and the public the "results of the work done at the Laboratory," as the law directs, and it is further utilized to spread the teachings of this School.
It is evidently the intent of this law that we, as guardians of the public health, should be frank with the public. In this connection it is proper to mention the relation which local health officers should maintain to their several communities. There should be no secrets between such officers and the public, except so far as individual misfortune and the dictates of humanity direct. The general state of the public health should be matter for public record. Health officers have no right to blind their constituents to the dangers of epidemics, nor should they influence the public mind with imaginary perils.
It is equally injurious to minimize the perils of threatened pestilence from contagious disease or polluted water, or of adulterated food products, and to magnify such dangers.
Every health officer should give his community the benefit of his official knowledge, in plain and temperate language, on all subjects affecting the public health. Most of our newspapers will willingly cooperate with these officers in such matters, with signal benefit to all concerned.
Such publicity will enhance the public confidence in our health departments, will cultivate respect for our health laws, and will allay suspicions and fears which have their foundation in half truths circulated by common
The public is getting interested in medical matters, and especially in preventive medicine. The rapid development of our art, during recent years, has attracted popular interest. We ought to see that interest is properly directed and cultivated. To this end this School should serve a useful purpose. Its teachings should be wholesome reading for all our people.
The successful maintenance of this Health Officers' School for ten years is a matter for congratulation. Those of us who have been regular attendants may be excused for taking a measure of pride in the success of this venture. We believe the School has a future full of good for our whole state.
By GOVERNOR F. D. PROCTOR.
in no I see the program has me down for an address. This my purpose to-night. I am very glad to be here, as I always am to attend these meetings, for I believe that of all the organizations, all the different companies of men who gather under different auspices and for different purposes in the state, none have a greater duty or a greater opportunity for real practical helpfulness to the people of Vermont than these meetings of the local health officers. It seems to me that the continuance of these meetings, the good attendance at the sessions, and the increased interest shown in them, are all indications of the real, genuine and practical merit in the work and of its need in Vermont. This work, as every health officer knows, has run counter to a long and fully established precedent. It has met the opposition of an unreasoning and unreasonable prejudice. It has often called for immediate financial sacrifice, and the people have failed to look forward to the great financial saving. It is sometimes little understood, sometimes misinterpreted, and sometimes, as every health officer knows, it is vigorously and strongly opposed. It has for different reasons never met with real easy progress. It seems to me that the splendid improvement we find in these conditions in Vermont and the advance made along all health lines, is ample proof of the good judgment and energy exercised by those having these matters in charge as well as the good common sense of our people. We all know many instances where the law and regulations laid down by the State Board of Health have been of the greatest service to our people. Through these laws and regulations there has been a saving of life, sickness and suffering, and no one can tell how large a financial saving. But the direct result of specific law and regulation does not begin to tell the whole story It is by no means all there is of this great work. It is the great educational feature, the great toning up of public sentiment, the bringing to the great mass of our people a full knowledge of what they themselves may do to save themselves and others sickness, suffering, misery, loss. We all know that human nature is such that it is sometimes necessary to tell us what we must do. Sometimes the may will not answer, and when it does not, then I believe it is the duty of the State Board of Health and local health officers to tell us what we must do. We must, as health officers, remember that it is not a question of convenience; it is usually a question of great inconvenience. It is not an economic question; it is a question that often calls for a large financial sacrifice. It is a question of health or sickness; a question of life or death, and as health officers it is not only your right but your duty to guard and guide the public in this great work. Public opinion and sentiment in Vermont has advanced. Anyone who has studied this subject for the past ten years must admit a splendid advance. We have but to cite several communities in proof of what a pure water supply will do. Every community knows what strict quarantine will do in preventing the spread of contagious diseases. There is not a hamlet in Vermont which has not experienced the benefits of our State Laboratory. While the work may sometimes seem to pinch here and there, and while individuals and even communities may temporarily rebel at its authority; while sometimes we hear murmurings that this or that law is burdensome and unnecessary, yet as a whole the people of Vermont are in hearty accord with the work and we all know infinitely better because of it.
As to the future work, I believe that we have simply to hold fast to the good already accomplished. I believe, as Dr. Caverly has just said, we have law enough. There possibly should be some amendments, but as a rule we have law enough. We should hold fast to the good already accomplished, and move forward firmly, always firmly, and at the same time with reasonable conservatism. I believe as the people of Vermont are made to see that the benefit is theirs and solely and absolutely theirs, they will welcome this work and move forward with it. I believe strongly in its publicity. The more we talk about it the better. I wish it might have a part in every public gathering held under state authority; that the work of the State Board of Health might have a part in every educational meeting and agricultural meeting held throughout the state, for there is no part of these meetings that has as far-reaching effect or as great an influence upon the well-being of the state as this great public health work. I wish the press, the greatest medium for reaching the public, might take a more active part in the work. As the people of the state are made to see what this work in reality is and what it means to the future growth and welfare of the state, I believe the people and not the profession will lead in the demand for its advance.
By Hon. W. J. BIGELOW, MAYOR OF BURLINGTON.
I have been asked to speak a word of welcome to a great many different organizations during the past year, but this is positively the first one for which I have had to come and do it over again. I shouldn't have dared to come here, but I know you are experts in the treatment of public nuisances, so I thought it would be safe for me to come and try.
I want to repeat what I said to you a year ago; you are most cordially welcome to the Queen City of the state ; to all of its beauties, to all of its pleasures and to all of its advantages. We are glad to see you, not because we hope you are going to have a good time here, but because we hope your meeting will be a direct benefit to the state as a whole.
One thought came to me in thinking of this organization. You know the popular cry is, the rich are growing richer and the poor poorer. This organization, it seems to me, is directly opposite to that doctrine. You are