Health, State Board of, was created by an act of the legislature on March 7, 1885, which provided for the appointment of a board of health to consist of nine physicians from different parts of the statethree to be appointed for one year, three for two years, and three for three years; thereafter three were to be appointed each year, to hold office for three years. The majority of the members of the board was not to be appointed from any one school of medicine, as the board was intended to be representative of all schools. Section 2, of the bill gave the board power to make rules for its own government and business, but provided that it must meet quarterly, or oftener if necessary, the first meeting to be held in Topeka, and annually after that a meeting was to be held in Topeka in June, when a majority of the members should constitute a quorum. Members of the board were not to receive a salary for their services, but all traveling and other expenses incurred when on business of the board were to be paid. The board was to elect a secretary, who would act as an executive officer, but would not be a member, his salary to be such as the board might fix, when approved by the governor, and to be paid in the same manner as the salaries of other state officers. In section 3 of the act, provision was made for the sceretary[sic] to hold office as long as he satisfactorily discharged his duties, which were stated as follows: "He shall keep record of all the transactions of the board; shall have the custody of all books, papers, documents and other property belonging to the office; shall communicate with other boards of health, and with the local boards within the state."
By the act of creation it was intended to have the state board supervise the general health interests of the state, make inquiry into the cause of disease, especially epidemics, and the local boards of health were to assist in this work by sending the state board copies of all reports and publications that might be useful. The act also gave to the state board the supervision of the registration of marriages, births, deaths and of forms of disease prevalent in the state, and the secretary of the state board is required to supervise the collection and registration of vital statistics.
The state board was given the power, when occasion requires, to engage special persons for sanitary service, and to make rules for the transportation of dead bodies beyond the boundaries of the county where death occurs. As a result of this power, in 1900, after due consideration, the state board of health, upon petition by the undertakers, passed a rule requiring every undertaker who desired to offer for transportation the body of any person who had died of an infectious or contagious disease, to pass a special examination and prove his fitness for the work, when a license would be issued to him by the state board of health.
The act of 1885 provided that "The county commissioners of the several counties of this state shall act as local boards of health for their respective counties. Each board thus created shall elect a physician who shall be ex officio a member of the board and the health officer of the same." "The county boards are not allowed to interfere with municipal boards of health or their regulations, but the municipal boards are governed by the act as well as the county boards. This act provided that all practicing physicians in the state must keep a record of all deaths occurring in their practices and send this information to the state board. The local and municipal boards were enpowered to make all necessary rules and regulations for general health and quarantine and to enforce the same.
Gov. Martin appointed the following physicians members of the first board of health: G. H. T. Johnson, Atchison; G. H. Guibor, Beloit; D. Surber, Perry; D. W. Stormont; Topeka; J. Milton Welch, La Cygne; H. S. Roberts, Manhattan; J. W. Jenny, Salina; W. L. Schenck, Osage City; and T. A. Wright, Americus. They met and perfected an organization on April 10, 1885, by electing Dr. Johnson president and Dr. J. W. Redden, of Topeka, secretary. After its organization the board adopted rules, regulations and formulas for the prevention of disease in the state, copies of which were sent to every county and municipal board of health in Kansas.
In 1889 the legislature passed a supplementary law which gave full power and authority to the state and county boards of health in controlling, regulating and suppressing all contagious, infectious and pestilential diseases, and to call in aid when necessary to enforce the provisions of the act. The organization of the county boards went on rapidly after the act authorizing them, and by 1889 there were 86 counties with active and efficient health officers. Of the remaining counties 11 had health officers who had resigned. In a few years it was seen that the state board of health did not have sufficient power in regard to quarantine, and in 1893 an act was passed which gave the state board power to establish and maintain quarantine stations at the limits of the state whenever Asiatic cholera or other infectious disease is threatened from any adjoining state or territory. The next year a chemist and microscopist were added to assist in the work carried on by the state board.
In his annual report to the governor in 1897, the secretary recommended that more power be given the state board of health, and its membership increased by the addition of a civil engineer, a professional chemist, and an expert bacteriologist, whose entire time would be devoted to the work. This recommendation was approved and the advisory board increased to consist of a sanitary adviser, chemist, bacteriologist and civil and sanitary engineer. In 1906 this advisory board was increased and changed so as to consist of a sanitary adviser, two food analysts, a drug analyst, bacteriologist and statistician. Owing to the great amount of work to be done by the state board of health the work has been divided among the following standing committees: on state house, public buildings and charitable institutions; on water supplies and sewage; on embalmers, barbers and epidemic diseases; on adulterated foods, drugs and drinks; and on finance. From time to time laws have been passed with regard to dangerous and epidemic diseases, quarantine, etc., and power given the board to enforce them.
The first medical practice act of Kansas was passed in 1870, and provided that only persons who had attended "two full courses of instruction in some reputable school of medicine, either in the United States or some foreign country," or who could produce a certificate of qualification from some state or county medical society, could legally practice medicine in the state. In 1885 the state board of health was given the power to regulate the practice of medicine and in 1889 another act was passed, by which the board was given authority to issue certificates to physicians of the proper qualifications to practice medicine in Kansas, and also provided for medical examination by the board of physicians who desired to practice in the state. A penalty was provided for persons infringing the law, but many persons totally unfit to practice medicine were doing so, and it was not until 1901 that an efficient law was passed which created a state board of medical registration and examination, it consists of seven physicians appointed by the governor, who hold office for four years. All physicians practicing in the state at the time the act was passed were required to satisfy this board of their qualifications either by diploma, affidavit or examination before they could secure a certificate legally to practice. Since that time all persons have had to pass an examination, except those who are graduates of reputable medical institutions in the United States and foreign countries, "When licenses may be granted at the discretion of the board without examination."
As early as 1887, a pure food and drug law was enacted in Kansas, making this state one of the pioneers in this important work. It read "If any person shall knowingly sell any kind of diseased, corrupt or unwholesome provisions, whether for meat or drink, without making the same fully known to the buyer, he shall be punished or imprisoned." The law was limited but it prohibited adulteration, and was the starting point of the later pure food laws. In 1889 a second food law was passed and under the provisions of these laws the secretary of the state board of health began the great crusade for pure food for the people of Kansas. He collected samples of food in 1905 and submitted them to the state university chemist for analysis, and finding them adulterated began a systematic fight against adulteration. The work of analysis continued and it is to the credit of the state board of health that before the national pure food law had been passed by Congress or the Beveridge meat inspection bill was framed, the Kansas packers had been compelled to furnish the Kansas market products that were free from coloring matter and dangerous preservatives, and all this resulted without a single law suit. Drugs were also analyzed and the result was nearly as successful. The passage of the national pure food law called for a revision of the food laws of Kansas, and in 1907 one of the most stringent pure food laws now in existence in the country was passed with regard to the manufacture, sale or transportation of misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs, medicine and liquors. The law regulates the traffic in these articles; provides for inspectors and penalties for its violation, so that today the people of Kansas are getting about the least adulterated food of any state in the Union.
Tuberculosis, or "the great white plague," began to receive special attention in this state about 1880, and Kansas is one of the pioneer states in the crusade against this dread disease. It has put into operation some of the most stringent laws in an effort to prevent its spread. The percentage of deaths from tuberculosis had grown to be alarming, considering the number of days of sunshine, altitude and the few large cities in the state with slum districts. In 1903 there were 628 deaths from this disease in the 85 counties reported, and in 1904, there were 697 deaths in the 90 counties reported. Kansas lies in such a geographical location that an army of tubercular cases pass through to the higher altitudes in the west. Many residents of Kansas are thus exposed to infection. It is due to the advice of the state board of health that pavilions for tubercular patients have been built at some of the state institutions for treatment of cases. The board gathered a tubercular census of the state and issued a report upon its prevention, with instructions concerning the care of patients. County health officers were instructed thoroughly to disinfect and fumigate homes in which tubercular cases occurred. In 1904 the state board of health urged the passage of a law requiring the transportation companies to improve the sanitary condition of cars and the discontinuance of certain practices injurious to health, but as no law was passed the board adopted rules for cleaning and fumigating cars and by correspondence endeavored to accomplish the same purpose by appeals to the companies. The result has been that the rules came to be adopted by most of the railroads in the state. Kansas is the first state in the Union to have a law requiring tuberculosis sick rooms and houses to be disinfected, which is compulsory and is done at state expense. Kansas is also the pioneer state in the abolishment of the public drinking cup, which is an undoubted source of communication of infectious diseases. The rule issued by the board was as follows: "That the use of the common drinking cup on railroad trains, in railroad stations, in the public and private schools and the state educational institutions in the State of Kansas is hereby prohibited, from and after Sept. 1, 1909." Since that time it has also been prohibited in hotels.
In 1911 the state legislature passed a bill "Providing for the establishment of a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in the state of Kansas." By this act the governor was to appoint four physicians, not more than two of whom shall be of the same school to constitute the "Advisory Commission of the Kansas Sanitorium for Tuberculosis Patients." They serve without compensation, except for the necessary expenses incurred in the actual performance of their duties. The members of the first board held office for one, two, three and four years respectively, beginning with July 1, 1911, and thereafter their successors serve for four years. The secretary of the state board of health by virtue of his office is at all times a member of this commission. The advisory commission is vested with power to make and prescribe all rules and regulations for the sanitorium and is required to visit the institution at least twice each year or oftener if necessary. Patients who are able to pay are charged a nominal sum fixed by the board of control but any persons unable to pay such charges for support and treatment "shall be admitted to said sanitorium under the same conditions as patients are now admitted into other state hospitals." An appropriation of $50,000 "or as much thereof as may be necessary," was made for the purchase of the necessary land, the erection of buildings, providing for a sufficient water supply and sewerage system and for salaries and other expenses for the years 1911 and 1912. When completed this sanitorium will give Kansas one of the best equipped institutions of the kind in the country, which will he one of great benefit to the people who are suffering from tuberculosis.
In 1903, the annual appropriation for the state board of health was $2,720, of which $1,200 was for the salary of the secretary; $720 for a stenographer and $800 for the expenses of the board. In eight years the work of the board has grown immensely for in 1911 there were 37 persons employed, of whom 17 gave their entire time to the workthe secretary, 6 clerks, 6 traveling food and drug inspectors, 1 bacteriologist and 3 attendants at the tuberculosis exhibit. In connection with the state university and the state agricultural college a state engineer and assistant, 3 drug analysts and 3 assistants, with 10 extra student assistants and 2 water analysts, while the hospital doctors willingly gave help. Only the people who devote their entire time to the work are paid from the state board of health appropriation, the others doing the extra work for the salaries they receive from the institutions with which they are connected. The board is trying to provide the best possible health regulations for the people of Kansas, and among the important results of its work is the weight and measures law, with its economic value to the public; the sewage and water laws; the work in hotel inspection, and quarantine provisions in time of epidemics.Pages 833-838 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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