Entries - Entry Category: Medicine

Dodge, Eva Francette

Eva Francette Dodge was a pioneer physician, educator in obstetrics and gynecology, and advocate for maternal health care and sex education for young people in Arkansas and the United States. Her influence was felt worldwide through her work with the Pan American Medical Women’s Alliance (PAMWA) as an obstetrical consultant. Dodge was adamant in her belief that birth control was a right of women and that sex education was to be provided for all youth. Eva Dodge was born on July 24, 1896, to George Dodge and Winnie Worthen Dodge in New Hampton, New Hampshire. Her father was a physician who greatly influenced her choice of medicine as a career. She was the eldest of three daughters. Dodge graduated from …

Drummond-Webb, Jonathan

Jonathan Drummond-Webb was the chief pediatric heart surgeon at Arkansas Children’s Hospital from 2001 to 2004. He brought the David Clark Heart Center into national prominence through his high success rate, averaging 600 surgeries per year with only a two percent mortality rate. He also performed the first-ever successful surgery using the DeBakey ventricular assist device (VAD), a miniature heart pump, in 2004. Jonathan Drummond-Webb was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 29, 1959, toErrol Praine Drummond and Anne Drummond-Webb. He was first inspired to become a heart surgeon after Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant, in Cape Town, South Africa. Drummond-Webb stated in an interview that when he learned of this, he was “amazed …

DuVal, Elias Rector

In the late nineteenth century, physician Elias Rector DuVal (sometimes rendered Duval) was a leader in the drive to modernize medicine in Arkansas. In the 1870s, he cofounded the Arkansas State Medical Association (ASMA) and the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS). E. R. DuVal was born on August 13, 1836, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to William DuVal, who was a trader, and his wife, Harriet Tabitha Doddridge DuVal. The family included three sisters and two brothers. In 1835, DuVal’s sister Catherine DuVal married Elias Rector. Rector was a U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas and Indian Territory and later served as superintendent of Indian Affairs. Educated in the local schools, DuVal graduated from Arkansas College in Fayetteville (Washington …

Elam, Lloyd Charles

Lloyd C. Elam was a groundbreaking psychiatrist and college administrator who founded the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and later served as that college’s president. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1997. Lloyd Charles Elam was born on October 27, 1928, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Harry Elam and Ruth Davis Elam. Elam was baptized at age seven at Christ Temple Church of Christ (Holiness) USA in Little Rock; he was active in Sunday school, becoming superintendent of the Sunday school at age seventeen. He attended Stephens Elementary School, then Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, where he graduated at the age of fifteen in 1944. Elam …

Elders, Joycelyn

aka: Minnie Lee Jones
Joycelyn Elders was director of the Arkansas Department of Health and the U.S. surgeon general in the administration of President Bill Clinton. Her controversial opinions led to her resignation after just over a year as surgeon general. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016. Joycelyn Elders was born Minnie Lee Jones on August 13, 1933, in Schaal (Howard County). She took the name Joycelyn while attending college. The eldest of Curtis and Haller Jones’s eight children, she spent much of her childhood working in cotton fields. From an early age, Jones showed considerable academic ability, and in 1949, she earned a scholarship to Philander Smith College …

Flowers, Cleon

Cleon Aurelius Flowers Sr., an African-American physician from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was reported to be the first physician in the country to deliver viable conjoined twins successfully during a home birth. During his fifty-nine-year career as a physician, he earned a reputation as a compassionate and generous healthcare provider in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County. Cleon Aurelius Flowers was born in Stamps (Lafayette County) on July 26, 1913. His father, Alonza William (A. W.) Flowers, was a laborer in sawmills who later became an insurance agent for Universal Life Insurance Company, and his mother, Beulah Sampson Flowers, was a teacher, community leader, and political activist. His parents also owned and operated the A. W. Flowers and Sons grocery store …

Flu Epidemic of 1918

aka: Influenza Epidemic of 1918
A deadly influenza outbreak began in 1918 and spread around the world, killing more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history. In Arkansas, the flu killed about 7,000 people, several times more than the state lost during World War I. This flu’s history remains significant today as world health officials seek to prevent an outbreak of a similar influenza epidemic mutated from swine or “bird flu” from poultry. In the fourteenth century, Italian doctors noted a mysterious illness that often turned into an epidemic. They called it the influentia in medieval Latin, believing it was caused by an adverse influence of the stars or alignment of the planets. By the eighteenth century, it was called influenza di …

Garland, Mamie Odessa Hale

Mamie Odessa Hale Garland served as midwife consultant for the Arkansas Department of Health from 1945 to 1950 and is credited with training the state’s elderly and illiterate “granny midwives” to ensure that they knew the proper techniques to manage the medical aspects of pregnancy, labor, and delivery and could complete birth certificates. Her contributions led to Arkansas’s improved maternal/infant mortality rates and regulation of midwives. Mamie Odessa Hale was born November 19, 1910, in Keeny’s Creek, West Virginia. She was the third child born to Emanuel Hale and Minnie Maude Creasy Hale. In 1941, Hale attended the Tuskegee School of Nurse-Midwifery for Colored Nurses in Alabama, a program sponsored by the Children’s Bureau; a bachelor’s degree was required to …

Hall-Trujillo, Kathryn

Kathryn Hall-Trujillo is a public health expert and advocate who focuses on healthcare for African-American women. Best known for founding Birthing Project USA, “Mama Katt,” as she has been affectionately called, was named a 2010 hero by the CNN television network for her work with at-risk mothers and babies. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Kathryn Hall-Trujillo was born on July 19, 1948, in Moscow (Jefferson County), a small town near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Her mother’s name was Corrine. She has said that her grandmother was her mentor. She said of her childhood, “Even though I came from a family that was poor, I came from a very good family; we loved one another …

Hallock, Harry M.

Harry M. Hallock served as the sole medical director of what was known at the time as Hot Springs Reservation. In 1832, the U.S. Congress set aside the reservation, which became Hot Springs National Park in 1921, to preserve the springs for public benefit. Hallock introduced controversial regulations that improved the quality of medical care in Hot Springs (Garland County), while also earning him the scorn of some local elites. Chronic illness and political opposition drove him to suicide. Henry Hallock was born on October 14, 1867, in Jersey City, New Jersey. He graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City in 1890. He married Jannette Halford; they had a son named Halford and a daughter …

Harrison, William Floyd Nathaniel

William Floyd Nathaniel Harrison was an obstetrician/gynecologist, abortion provider, congressional candidate, and author. During his career, he became locally and nationally known as an outspoken pro-choice physician. Born on September 8, 1935, in Vilonia (Faulkner County), William Harrison was the fourth of Benjamin G. Harrison and Mattie E. Powell Harrison’s five children. His parents were teachers. His family attended both Methodist and Baptist churches. Educated in the public schools, he attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in Conway (Faulkner County) in the early 1950s but did not complete a degree. He served in the U.S. Navy in the late 1950s. Entering the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1959, he studied pre-medicine and graduated in 1963. …

Health and Medicine

Arkansas long had a reputation for being sickly because much of the state supported large mosquito populations, carrying malaria, yellow fever, and other diseases. Modern medicine, a largely nineteenth-century creation, arrived late, and throughout the twentieth century, diseases eradicated elsewhere continued to flourish. Only after World War II did sharp improvements in health occur, but the Delta lagged far behind. Problems in health and medical programs were compounded in part because many Arkansans deliberately engaged in forms of risky behavior such as tobacco use and unhealthy diets. Prehistoric Arkansas The first settlers more than 10,000 years ago brought to the New World only a few major illnesses. One was tuberculosis, evidence of which is visible in bones from burial sites. …

Herndon, Elisabeth Chapline

Sarah Elisabeth Chapline Herndon was the only volunteer Red Cross nurse from Arkansas to serve in the Spanish-American War. Elisabeth Chapline was born on April 4, 1871, near Sweet Home (Pulaski County) to William Heros Chapline and Mary Murray Chapline. Her father was a landowner and planter. She had one brother and two sisters. Chapline attended the Arkansas Female College in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and nursing school at Chicago Baptist Hospital in Illinois. When war broke out in 1898, Chapline was too young for enlistment but was admitted as a contract nurse. She served in Fernandina, Florida, and at Camp Cuba Libre in Panama City, Florida. She was one of 1,700 volunteer nurses to serve in the war. Chapline …

Hildreth, James Earl King

James Earl King Hildreth, a leading HIV/AIDS researcher, is dean of University of California–Davis College of Biological Sciences. Previously, he was employed by Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was director for the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research; program director of the Research Centers in Minority Institutions; director of the Meharry Center for Translational Research; associate director at the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for AIDS Research; and professor of internal medicine, microbiology, and immunology. At the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research, he worked on a cream that kills the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). James Earl Hildreth was born in Camden (Ouachita County) on December 27, 1956, to Lucy and R. J. Hildreth. He is the youngest of seven …

Hookworm Eradication

Hookworm disease was a significant public health issue in Arkansas until the movement to eradicate hookworms in the early twentieth century. With official estimates claiming that up to twenty percent of the entire population of the state suffered from hookworm infestation, this parasite was sufficiently widespread to affect the economy as well as the health of Arkansas. Its virtual eradication was the result of a public health and education campaign on the part of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission between 1910 and 1914. The hookworm is an intestinal parasite that grows and reproduces in the intestines of its hosts. When infected people deposit feces containing hookworm eggs in warm, moist, shaded soil, the eggs hatch and develop into larvae. Within five …

Hooper, Philo Oliver

Philo Oliver Hooper has been called the father of Arkansas medicine. He was one of the founders of the Medical Department of Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), a founder and the first president of the Arkansas State Medical Association, a founding board member and director of the Arkansas Lunatic Asylum, and vice president of the American Medical Association. P. O. Hooper was born on October 11, 1833, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Alanson Hooper and Magdaline Perry Hooper. After obtaining what education was available in the city at the time, he pursued his education at Nashville University in Nashville, Tennessee. Returning home to Little Rock, he found employment as the chief clerk …

Hospitals (Civil War)

A wide range of Civil War hospitals in Arkansas included field hospitals established in the immediate aftermath of battle, commandeered houses and churches, and somewhat permanent post hospitals in occupied areas. Union bases tended to have more purpose-built hospital facilities, while Confederate doctors made use of any available buildings, such as colleges, hotels, churches, and private homes. The need for hospital facilities became obvious soon after Arkansas seceded from the Union and the new Confederate recruits became ill from the myriad diseases that afflicted their camps. Hospitals were established wherever large groups of troops gathered, often treating soldiers from specific regiments or from the same states. In early 1862, for instance, Confederate forces in Washington County established the Mount Comfort …

Hot Springs Medical Journal

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Hot Springs (Garland County) was proud home to the Hot Springs Medical Journal, first published in January 1892. Although medical journals were published in nearby locations including Little Rock (Pulaski County), Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, the founders of the publication felt that the natural hot springs for which the city was named provided a great resource for many patients. They stated in the first volume: “The city of Hot Springs, Arkansas is…the greatest sanitarium on earth, and in a few years is inevitably destined to become the most universally frequented health resort in the world.” At that time, Hot Springs was already quite a tourist area. The resident population was …

Houser, Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte Houser was a prominent African-American physician, owner of the Black Diamond Drug Store, and investor in Helena (Phillips County) from 1901 to 1920. He came to Helena from Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Arkansas Delta’s population and opportunities grew, but returned to the place of his birth following the Elaine Massacre. N. B. Houser was born near Gastonia, in Gaston County, North Carolina, on February 14, 1869. He was the son of William H. Houser, a well-to-do brick mason and contractor, and Fannie Houser, a housekeeper and mother. The youngest of six siblings, Houser attended public schools in Charlotte and worked as a farm hand on his father’s farm until the age of fourteen, when he began to …

Human Development Centers

From 1888 to 1959—prior to the creation of human development centers (HDCs)—the Arkansas State Hospital provided long-term care to individuals with intellectual disabilities as well as to individuals with severe mental illness. Arkansas lagged behind other states in development of facilities specializing in the care of the intellectually disabled. In the mid-1950s, plans were set in motion to develop a facility that would specialize in the treatment and education of children with intellectual disabilities. Within one year of the opening of the Arkansas Children’s Colony (later renamed the Conway Human Development Center) in 1959, the facility received accolades for its physical construction as well as for its progressive curriculum for residents. Soon after, several other Southern states were following in …

Human Dissection Monument

The first human dissection performed in Arkansas is commemorated by an obelisk located at the edge of MacArthur Park in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1927, the Arkansas Medical Society unveiled the marker, whose inscription states that the dissection was held on that spot in November 1874. To clarify: the monument honors the state’s first such legal event, and the unveiling took place on May 13, despite the marker being dated May 12. Following appeals by doctors, in April 1873 the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 45 authorizing “dissection in certain cases for the advancement of science.” This paved the way for the establishment of a medical school, as the new law gave both doctors and medical students the right …

Ish, George William Stanley

George William Stanley Ish was a prominent black physician in Little Rock (Pulaski County) who cared for citizens of the capital city and inspired members of both races. He graduated from Harvard Medical School and was instrumental in founding both United Friends Hospital and the J. E. Bush Memorial Hospital, primary centers for the medical care of black patients. He was also largely responsible for the inception of the McRae Memorial Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Alexander (Pulaski and Saline counties), the state’s separate black sanatorium. Physicians of both races held him in high regard, and he was a staff member at predominantly white hospitals in Little Rock. G. W. S. Ish was born in Little Rock on October 28, 1883, in …

Jennings, Roscoe Greene

Roscoe Greene Jennings was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Roscoe Jennings was born in Leeds, Maine, on June 11, 1833, the fourth son and fifth child of Perez Smith Jennings and Johanna (Lane) Jennings. His great grandfather, Samuel Jennings of Salem, Massachusetts, had held an important office under King George III of Great Britain but, after the Revolutionary War, had lost his property and moved to Maine to farm. Young Roscoe grew up working on a farm there in the summer and attended school during the winter. He later traveled and taught school to support himself and his continuing education. Jennings apprenticed in medicine …

Johnston, David Augustine Elihue

David Augustine Elihue Johnston, also known as D. A. E. Johnston or Elihue Johnston, was an inventor, a successful dentist and businessman, and a member of the National Negro Business Men’s League. He and his brothers were killed under mysterious circumstances during the time of the Elaine Massacre of 1919. D. A. E. Johnston was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), although sources differ as to the year. Johnston’s official date of birth is listed as May 1, 1878, on his application for a draft exemption with the Phillips County Local Exemption Board on September 12, 1918. On the 1900 U.S. Census, he was listed as being born in May 1881, but on his January 1910 marriage license, his age …

Johnston, Lewis Harrison (L. H.)

Lewis Harrison Johnston was a physician, surgeon, and wealthy businessman. He was a member of the Negro Business League and the State Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association of Oklahoma. He and his three brothers were killed by a posse in 1919 during the Elaine Massacre. Lewis Harrison Johnston, known as L. H., was born on July 4, probably in 1880, in either Arkansas or Ruston, Louisiana, to Lewis Johnston Jr. and Mercy Ann Taborn Johnston. In the 1880 census, Johnston was living in Vaugine Township in Jefferson County with his parents and siblings. His place of birth was listed as Arkansas, and his age was listed as one. In 1900, Johnston was listed as living in Ward 3 in Pine …

Jones, Edith Irby

Edith Irby Jones was the first African American to attend and to graduate from the University of Arkansas Medical School, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Not only was she a pioneer in the desegregation of higher education in Arkansas and the South, but she also served as a highly successful doctor, educator, and philanthropist in Arkansas, Texas, and overseas. Edith Irby was born on December 23, 1927, near Conway (Faulkner County) to Robert Irby, a sharecropper, and Mattie Buice Irby, a maid. Her father died when she was eight, and the family moved to Hot Springs (Garland County). Irby’s older sister died of typhoid fever at the age of twelve, largely …

Jones, Fred Thomas

Fred Thomas Jones Sr. was a physician and pioneer in providing insurance and medical care to African Americans in Arkansas and Louisiana. Fred T. Jones was born on September 8, 1877, in Homer, Louisiana, the oldest of eleven children born to Fred R. Jones, a farmer, and Harriett E. Jones, a housewife. In 1904, Jones married Hattie McGraw. The couple had a daughter but divorced soon after. Three years later, in 1907, he married Katie Chandler. They had seven children—five daughters and two sons. After attending Claiborne Parish School at Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Jones graduated from Arkansas Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) between 1900 and 1904, …

Jordan, Lena Lowe

Lena Lowe Jordan was an African-American registered nurse and hospital administrator who managed two institutions for African Americans—a hospital for the care of crippled children, which later became a general hospital. In addition, she began a unique training program for young black women who wanted to become practical nurses. Lena Lowe was born on April 6, 1884, in Georgia, to Hollin and Martha Lowe. She spent her childhood in Georgia and then trained as a nurse at the Charity Hospital of Savannah. She moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) from Cordele, Georgia, in the 1920s and began her career as a registered nurse in Arkansas as head nurse at the Mosaic State Templars Hospital in 1927. In 1920, she became …

Jordan, Wilbert Cornelius

Wilbert Cornelius Jordan started the Oasis Clinic in Los Angeles, California, in 1979. This clinic treated some of the first patients who suffered from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), before the disease had even been clinically observed. Over the next two decades, Jordan treated more than 3,000 clinically diagnosed HIV/AIDS patients. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2000. A Los Angeles native, Wilbert C. Jordan was born on September 11, 1944, and grew up in Arkansas. He attended Marian Anderson High School in Brinkley (Monroe County) before entering Horace Mann High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for his final year, graduating in 1961. He graduated from Harvard University in …

Kaplan, Regina

Nurse, teacher, and healthcare innovator Regina Kaplan was the hospital administrator and director of the nursing school at the Leo N. Levi Memorial Hospital in Hot Springs (Garland County) for thirty-five years. She was active in national and community organizations, and has been called Arkansas’s “Lady with the Lamp.” Regina Kaplan was born on May 12, 1887, in Memphis, Tennessee, the third of five children of German immigrants Gershon Kaplan and Adella Hannah Traube Kaplan. Her father had been a school teacher in Germany. The family moved to Denver for her mother’s health. Unable to afford medical school to become a doctor, at age seventeen, Kaplan entered Denver’s Mercy Hospital Training School for Nursing. She graduated in 1908 at the …

Kimbrough, Wilson Whitaker, Jr.

Wilson Whitaker Kimbrough Jr. made distinctive contributions to society through his efforts to professionalize law enforcement in Arkansas. He is considered the father of police and criminal psychology in Arkansas and one of the founders of police and criminal psychology in the United States. Throughout his professional career, he actively supported many mental health initiatives in northwest Arkansas and, as a Washington County Quorum Court member, led in the development of prototype job evaluation and salary administration programs. Wilson Kimbrough Jr., the first son of Lydia Reed and Wilson W. Kimbrough Sr., was born on March 29, 1926, on the family farm northeast of Springdale (Washington County). Both his parents were members of pioneer families of the county and were educators …

Kountz, Samuel Lee, Jr.

Samuel Lee Kountz Jr. was a physician and pioneer in organ transplantation, particularly renal transplant research and surgery. An Arkansas success story, he overcame the limitations of his childhood as an African American in the Delta region of a racially segregated state to achieve national and world prominence in the medical field. Sam Kountz was born on October 20, 1930, in Lexa (Phillips County) to the Reverend J. S. Kountz, a Baptist minister, and his wife, Emma. He was the eldest of three sons. Kountz lived in a small town with an inadequate school system in one of the most impoverished regions of the state. He attended a one-room school in Lexa until the age of fourteen, at which point …

Lawrence, William M.

William M. Lawrence was a prominent physician in Batesville (Independence County) from 1848 until his death. He was appointed the surgeon general of the state of Arkansas in 1881. William Lawrence was born on November 22, 1826, in Kentucky, the son of James McKinney Lawrence and his first wife, Lucy D. Martin Lawrence, who was from Missouri. He had two brothers (one of them a son to his father’s second wife, Margaret Ann Vaunter Lawrence) and three sisters. Lawrence moved with his family to Fulton, Missouri, when he was a young child. About 1843, he began “reading medicine” under Dr. Robert Blakely in Fulton. He attended medical school at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, studying under Dr. Joseph McDowell. Following …

Levi Hospital

aka: Leo N. Levi Hospital
Levi Hospital in Hot Springs (Garland County) is a nonprofit hospital that offers mental and physical therapy. Its mission is to provide specialty care for the residents of Hot Springs and surrounding communities, serving patients without regard to race, religion, creed, national origin, gender, age, disability, or economic means. It has a history of providing services to people regardless of their ability to pay. Levi Hospital is the only healthcare provider in Garland County that provides inpatient adult psychiatric services as well as rehabilitation therapy in the thermal waters of Hot Springs National Park. It also offers a certified athletic trainers program for area schools in which trained healthcare professionals are present at athletic practices and games to help prevent …

Lowe, Betty Ann

Betty Ann Lowe developed Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock (Pulaski County) into a nationally known, competitive hospital by acting as an advocate, enlisting the help of a famous family, procuring state funding, and adding new, innovative departments. In addition to being a prominent figure in Arkansas pediatrics, she became the first Arkansan to become a pediatric rheumatologist and gained widespread notice as the physician of Chelsea Clinton, President Bill Clinton’s daughter. Betty Lowe was born on March 23, 1934, in Grapevine, Texas, to John and Winnie Lowe; she had three siblings. Lowe’s family soon moved to Enola (Faulkner County), where she was raised. During her sixth-grade year, the Lowes moved to Fourche Valley (Yell County), where her parents worked …

Malaria

Malaria is a serious infectious disease caused by a single-celled parasite known as a plasmodium, which is generally spread through mosquito bites. This disease caused incalculable suffering for thousands of Arkansans and other Southerners through the early twentieth century. Symptoms of malaria include high fever, chills, profuse sweating, malaise, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms can appear within a week of initial infection but can vary with the different types of parasites. Complications can include anemia, liver failure, kidney failure, and breathing problems. Patients can suffer relapses years after the initial infection. If untreated, malaria can cause death. Along with pellagra and hookworm, malaria was one of three diseases whose symptoms contributed to the false stereotype of Southerners as …

Malaria Control Projects in Southeast Arkansas

Two malaria control demonstration projects in southeast Arkansas during the Progressive Era showed not only that the disease could be controlled, but also that control was economically feasible. The project in Crossett (Ashley County) targeted mosquito breeding sites, while the one in the Lake Village (Chicot County) area studied protection by mechanical means. Both were noteworthy successes, though local governments often failed to follow up on those successes. Malaria control was a logical extension of hookworm eradication projects sponsored by the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease. In 1915, Dr. Wickliffe Rose, who headed the commission, said that “malaria was responsible for more sickness and death than all other diseases combined.” The disease sapped the vitality of …

Malnutrition

Social, environmental, and political forces have influenced—and often hindered—Arkansans’ access to nutritious food. From outright hunger to nutrient-specific deficiencies like pellagra, malnutrition contributed to stereotypes about “lazy southerners” Through much of the state’s history. The American Mercury’s 1954 description of Arkansas as a land of “malnutrition, mental disability, hookworm, [and] hogs” did little to refute this stereotype. Although nutrition interventions focused heavily on the Delta area by the conclusion of the twentieth century, Arkansas as a whole received the dubious distinction as having the fifth-highest rate of food hardship in the nation of all states in 2012, according to the Food Research and Action Center. Historical BackgroundSome of the earliest evidence of malnutrition in what is now Arkansas can be traced …

Mayfield, Mary Victor (M. V.)

Mary Victor (M. V.) Mayfield was a woman who came to Mena (Polk County) in 1918 and practiced medicine in the guise of a man for seven or eight years. A small, kind, and peaceful citizen, she soon became “the cancer doctor.” She put Mena in the national news for the events of January 23, 1926, when her identity as a woman was revealed by the news media. Little is known about M. V. Mayfield’s early life. She later claimed that her gender deception began in England—her parents needed a son, not a daughter, to “protect property rights,” so they dressed her as a boy and raised her in disguise. Mayfield carried the masquerade into adulthood by smoking a pipe and drinking a …

McAlmont, John Josephus

John Josephus McAlmont was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). John McAlmont was born on December 22, 1821, in Hornellsville, New York, the son of Daniel and Samantha Donham McAlmont and the youngest of seven siblings. McAlmont left home at age seventeen, earning money by teaching school. At twenty-one, he entered Geneva Medical College in New York for its one-semester course in medicine; there, he completed a course of lectures in medicine in April 1843. (A course of lectures was all that was required to practice medicine at the time.) McAlmont established his practice in April 1844 in Kendall Creek, Pennsylvania. The community was a …

Medical Arts Building

The sixteen-story Medical Arts Building at 236 Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County) was the tallest building in Arkansas from its completion in 1930 until 1960, when the Tower Building was completed in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County). (The tallest building in Arkansas currently is the forty-story Metropolitan Tower in Little Rock, which was built in 1986.) The upper floors of the Medical Arts Building are now vacant. The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas (HPAA) listed it in 2012 as one of the state’s most endangered places. The Medical Arts Building was constructed by general contractor G. C. Gordon Walker with work beginning on December 1, 1929. Investors from Little Rock and New Orleans, Louisiana, purchased the site, …

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is professional misconduct by physicians and surgeons toward a patient. Historically, malpractice falls into two categories: criminal malpractice covers actions contrary to or expressively forbidden by law; civil malpractice, the dominant form in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, refers to injurious treatment of the patient that includes unnecessary suffering or death that is due to professional ignorance, carelessness, a want of proper medical skills, and a disregard for established rules and practices. More rarely, malpractice can cover lawyers and other professionals. Medical malpractice suits emerged in the nineteenth century and came about only after the practice of medicine became informed by a scientific revolution that involved such discoveries as sepsis, immunization, and the germ theory. Suits were rare …

Mental Health

Prior to the opening of the Arkansas Lunatic Asylum (now the Arkansas State Hospital) in 1883, mentally ill Arkansans were cared for by their families or housed in jails, prisons, or poor farms. Since 1883, the Arkansas State Hospital (ASH) has been responsible for the treatment of thousands of Arkansans with a wide range of psychiatric diagnoses such as depression and schizophrenia. In the 1950s, the hospital’s census peaked at 5,086 patients. Since that time, the deinstitutionalization movement and advances in psychotropic medications have resulted in dramatically lower inpatient numbers. The current (as of 2010) ASH capacity of 234 beds represents a deinstitutionalization rate of 97.5% for the state. Most patients are admitted through a screening process conducted by the …

Mental Health Council of Arkansas

The Mental Health Council of Arkansas (MHCA) is a nonprofit organization that has been working to improve the overall health and well-being of citizens in Arkansas since 1972. It was originally founded under the Federal Community Mental Health Construction Grant. The MHCA is composed of fifty psychiatrists and approximately 2,000 healthcare professionals and is governed by a board of directors. Its members provide comprehensive mental health services to Arkansans through the fourteen community mental health centers in Arkansas. The centers provide a variety of mental health services, such as individual and group psychotherapy and medication management; psychological, personality, forensic, and intellectual evaluations; emergency/crisis treatment; consultation/education programs; and partial hospitalization programs. The MHCA is a member of the National Council for …

Mickel, Lillian Estes Eichenberger

Lillian Estes Eichenberger Mickel pioneered women’s roles in multiple fields. She served as a professional photographer, founded a nursing home, established a unique facility for handicapped children, was an accomplished portrait painter, and served as Johnson County’s historian. Lillian Eichenberger was born in Clarksville (Johnson County) on June 14, 1909, to Lafayette Eichenberger and Martha Louisa Black Eichenberger. She had seven siblings. Her father, a house painter, died in 1912. Her mother was an extremely talented seamstress. At the age of twelve, Eichenberger went to work in M. E. Anderson’s photography studio in order to give financial help to her widowed mother. She learned the photography business, becoming the first woman photographer in the state to make and distribute colored …

Midwives

Midwives have filled a clear, important role in Arkansas history by caring for populations of women who were medically underserved. Their role was almost supplanted by physicians in the early twentieth century, but they remain a viable option for women seeking an alternative model of birth care. Midwives in the hill country of Arkansas were well-respected members of the community who performed their duties as a service to their neighbors. Most were older women whose own children were grown and who had learned their trade from another midwife. They carried a midwife’s book and bag with them to assist during complicated deliveries when no doctor was available. Midwives were very knowledgeable on the subject of childbirth and the many uses …

Morris, John William

John William Morris was a long-time physician in Woodruff County who practiced medicine until the age of 101. Beginning in 1950, the Arkansas Medical Association (AMA) recognized Morris as the oldest practicing physician in Arkansas. In 1973, the AMA and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” recognized him as the oldest full-time practicing physician in the United States. J. W. Morris was born on February 6, 1875 at Honey Hill (White County) to George Louis and Sarah Seawell Morris. He had ten siblings. Morris began his practice near McCrory (Woodruff County) on April 21, 1900. He married Amma Gray Burkett on December 19, 1901, and they had two children. Morris estimated that he delivered more than 7,000 babies during his career. …

Neel, Margarete Ethel

Margarete Ethel Neel became the symbol of the International Red Cross after World War II. The White County chapter submitted to the national headquarters a wartime photo of Neel guiding the wheelchair of wounded Private Gordon Pyle of California. It was reproduced as a poster for the organization’s post-war fundraising activities. A plaque commemorating Neel’s Red Cross service stands in front of the Searcy American Legion Hut, where the White County chapter of the Red Cross is located. The chapter was dedicated to Neel just after her death in 1971. Neel was among the first women listed on the rolls of the U.S. Women’s Memorial when it was dedicated in Washington DC in 1997. Margarete Neel was born on December …

Obesity

Obesity is a complex issue impacting every segment of the population and having many roots. The drivers and health effects of obesity are not fully understood but may be contextualized within the United States’ transition from a farm-based to an industrialized economy. Arkansas consistently ranks as one of the most obese states in the United States. Historically, most efforts to combat obesity have focused on individual-level interventions. Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003, which created the Child Health Advisory Committee, was among the first and most comprehensive statewide legislative initiatives to combat childhood obesity by focusing on creating healthier public school environments. Similar initiatives have proliferated since obesity has become a global health issue. Although widely discussed as a major risk …

Ogden, Mahlon Dickerson

Mahlon Dickerson (M. D.) Ogden was a physician who cofounded Trinity Hospital of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1923. At Trinity, he pioneered the use of the health maintenance organization (HMO)—a form of health insurance in which member physicians provide medical care to subscribers for a fixed fee—in Arkansas. Born on December 5, 1881, in Little Rock, M. D. Ogden was the only son of railroad clerk Charles Cullen Ogden and his wife, Altamira Deason Ogden. An older cousin, Fred R. Bryson, was adopted into the family and became Ogden’s legal brother. Educated in the local schools, Ogden graduated from the Arkansas Medical School (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) in 1904. From 1905 to 1916, he taught …