Teaching Health in the Carolina Hills

A report from Carolina.

By CAROL ROTTMILLER, Senior Nurse, Mountain Sanitarium, Fletcher, N. C.

We finished loading our car and hurried away. It was already two o'clock, the time set for the Negro women's health class in a Carolina community. We always tried to be there on time to set them an ex­ample. But few of them, if any, had clocks or watches. They judged time by the sun, and came a few at a time down the mountainside or across the little valley, arriving early or late —it didn't seem to matter. But they came and really took an interest in the class.

Today as we drove up, two women were standing in front of the little unpainted, un­finished' church, in which we regularly met. Each had a basket containing flower plants, seeds, and cuttings. After the lesson there was to be a flower exchange, so the women could have new varieties of flowers in their front yards in the spring.

Along with our health lessons we had a garden club and contest to encourage the women to raise more of the vegetables they needed. We were able to get a good supply of last year's seeds donated by the seed stores, and we helped the women all we could to have a variety of vegetables in their gardens. The county farm agent went around with us to judge which garden was best, to give advice and answer questions. There were contests for the children, too. The boys received popcorn seed, and each girl who had a sitting hen at home got a setting of eggs. We followed the health lessons outlined in the "Health Preser­vation and Home Nursing" course, very much simplified to meet the understanding of the group. Some of the lessons we tried particu­larly to teach were:

1. The necessity of cleanliness in the home.

2. How to seal unfinished houses with card­board boxes to keep them warmer in winter.

3. The proper diet, and the common foods that contain each of the necessary elements of diet. Along with this, we taught methods of canning.

4. What to tell the doctor when they called him.

5. Miss P. was able to get a thermometer for each one from a drug company, and we taught them to take temperature.

6. How to give a bed bath. We took several days to practice on this lesson.

7. Necessary preparation for a home deliv­ery. We were well pleased with the results of this lesson. When we came to a home and found jars of sterile water, hot and cold water, newspaper pads for the bed, and a change of clean bed linen ready, we felt more than repaid for our efforts.

Each student nurse from the Mountain Sani­tarium and Hospital School of Nursing pre­pared and taught this group one lesson as a part of a class in "Community Health." Fol­lowing is an outline of one demonstration health talk given this group.

Demonstration Health Talk. Topic: Colds

1. Introduction: Each one of us here has had a cold at some time in her life. Many of us had colds this past winter, and we knOw how miserdble they make us feel. This afternoon we want to learn two things: first, how to keep from catching a cold; and second, what to do for a cold if we do con­tract one.

2. Prevention. We learned the other day about the germs that make us sick. We learned, too, that if we are in good health, our bodies can fight these germs. To keep from catching- cold we should keep in good health. Aids in the prevention of colds:

3. Diet—plenty of fruits and vegetables.

4. Sleep with windows open, but avoid un­due exposure.

5. Change wet clothing as soon as possible.

6. Stay away from people with colds, and­s. If you have a cold, stay away from other people.

7. Cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

III. Treating A Cold.

Things we can do for ourselves to keep a cold from lasting a long time.

1. Drink an abundance of water and juices if you have them ; water is satisfactory.

2. Rest more than usual.

3. Use hot salt-water gargle for sore throat. (Demonstrate making salt-water gargle.)

4. Put heating compress on throat. (Dem­onstrate how to put it on and how to take it off.)

5. Sweating treatment with a hot foot bath. (Demonstrate giving treatment.)

If a cold is severe or lasts very long, one should see a doctor, as some serious sick­nesses or complications may develop.

IV. Equiptment and its Use.

1. Box of salt.

2. Drinking glass.

3. Woolen compress cloth.

4. Smaller cotton compress cloth.

5. Safety pins.

6. Foot tub.

7. Pitcher.

8. Blanket.

9. Basin.

10.Cloths for applying cold to head.

1. Bath towel.

I took the above-named items with me, get­ting hot and cold water from a neighboring house. As I gave the treatment, I explained the reason for each thing I did, as : "The blanket is wrapped around the patient and down over the foot tub to hold the heat in," and, "I'm putting cool cloths on her head to keep her from getting dizzy." I also stressed that the patient should go to bed for a number of hours after the treatment, and keep very warm.

I feel that one big reason for the success of our health classes and garden club is that Miss P. has shown her interest in these Negro families in so many ways : by giving baskets of food and old clothes to needy families ; also at Christmas time giving food, clothes, and toys, the project being sponsored by the Young Peo­ple's Missionary Volunteer Society. And lay­ettes for the new babies arc made by the Junior Dorcas Society.

We cannot know all the good that is accom­plished by this type of work. Our task is to "do our best—it may not be 'the best,' but if it be God blessed, it will surely prove a bless­ing."

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By CAROL ROTTMILLER, Senior Nurse, Mountain Sanitarium, Fletcher, N. C.

September 1941

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