1936 - 1960: A full-time, full-service Health Department
1936-37 – Major changes occurred at both the Hospital and Health Department during these years.
The Health Department was reorganized in 1936 under guidelines established in a survey the year before by the United States Public Health Service. This is considered the beginning of the full-time, full-service Health Department as we know it today. Dr. Theodore R. Meyer was appointed as Health Commissioner. Dr. Meyer came into the job with 15 years of public health administrative experience, and a degree of doctor of public health.
The same year, the Department’s first full-time Sanitary Engineer - Leonard M. Board - was hired, as well as the first full-time Director of Nurses, who it is believed was Rosemary Phillips. In 1937, the first full-time Laboratory Director for the Health Department - Howard E. Lind - was appointed. Lind was a bacteriologist who did both medical and environmental examinations. In 1936, the Health Department had nine professional staff, compared with 47 in 1941, 74 in 1944 and 119 in 1956.
In 1936 and 1937, there was also a reorganization of County Hospital. A Citizens Medical Advisory Committee was formed under the County Court to select a qualified Superintendent and Medical Director for the Hospital. Dr. Curtis H. Lohr, former St. Louis City Hospital Commissioner, was selected and appointed Hospital Commissioner. He also assumed duties as Medical Director. The Hospital’s medical and nursing staffs were reorganized, as were its X-ray, laboratory and ambulance services, and non-professional departments. Medical staff appointments were limited to members of the faculties of the St. Louis University and Washington University Medical Schools. The Hospital’s policy was changed to make care of the indigent County citizens the primary role of the institution.
During the early years of both the Health Department and Hospital, the work week was a 12-hour, six-day a week grind (or 72 hours a week).
1938 – Advisory Boards to both the Hospital and Health Department were established. Each was a separate group of citizens. They were merged into one Health and Hospital Advisory Board in 1951, after adoption of the County’s Home Rule Charter.
1938-39 – County Hospital received a “Fully Approved” rating from the American College of Surgeons. In 1939, it was accepted for membership in the Saint Louis Hospital Council, Missouri Hospital Association and American Hospital Association. It received national recognition for its marked improvements.
1938 (January) – A State Law went into effect abolishing the system of 25 local registrars of vital statistics in Saint Louis County. It “centralized the Vital Statistics for the registration of births and deaths for Saint Louis County in the office of the County Health Department.” The County Health Commissioner was designated as registrar.
1939 (February) – The first full-time Industrial Hygiene Engineer - Kenneth J. Wulfert - was added to the Health Department staff. In the fall of 1938, the agency had become the first County health department in the United States to make industrial hygiene an integral part of its activities. This is a program which went through various highs and lows in the ensuing years.
1940 – Health Commissioner Dr. T. R. Meyer was called to active duty by the U.S. Navy.
1941 – The Health Department at this time was housed in four interns’ bedrooms and the “dog house”, a frame shack on the County Hospital grounds. It was moved into “larger quarters” in December 1941, and again in July 1942.
1943 – Dr. Curtis Lohr, County Hospital Superintendent, volunteered for military service. Until his return in 1945, Mary Keith served as Superintendent and Dr. M. Spitz as Medical Director.
1940-43 – In the early 1940’s, construction began on the second unit of the Hospital under a Federal Lanham Act grant, which put ownership of that unit in Federal hands. The second unit (later called Building II) was to be a health center which would provide facilities for both the Hospital and Health Department. It was built at a cost of around $750,000 for the building and equipment and opened in the fall of 1943. Building II remained under Federal Government ownership until 1948, when a $225,000 bond issue permitted the County to purchase the building and to construct corridors and ramps to connect the corresponding levels of Buildings I and II.
1943 – The first County-wide Rabies Control Program started.
1943 – The County Health Department’s Dental Health Service was initiated, after a survey by the Missouri Division of Health revealed a need for preventive dental health programs in Saint Louis County schools.
1946 – A tax rate of six cents per $100 valuation was approved by the State Legislature for County Hospital.
1946 – In order to meet the demands of a polio epidemic that summer, County Hospital established the first Polio Treatment Center in the St. Louis area. Forty beds in the Health Center Building (Building II) were assigned for this purpose.
1946 – A training course for laboratory technicians was established at County Hospital.
1940’s – During this period, the Health Department served as a Field Training Center for public health professionals from schools all over the country. This type of training continued for many years in one form or another.
1947 – The County Hospital house staff was reorganized and expanded on a specialty basis.
1947 – County Hospital qualified for membership in the Blue Cross plan.
1948 – A tax rate of four cents per $100 valuation approved for the Health Department.
1950 (October) – A Child Guidance Clinic was started by the Health Department for all children in the County up through age 16. A School Mental Health contract service was added in September 1951.
1950 – The first full-time Director of Dental Health was appointed at the Health Department.
1951 (February) – The first “permanent” health clinic operated by the Health Department outside of the County Health Center in Clayton opened in Kinloch. The initial project was a “mass blood-testing” program, with pre-natal and venereal disease clinics under consideration. (“Store-front” child health conference-type centers were in operation in Kinloch and Pine Lawn prior to this, however, in the 1940’s)
1951 – Saint Louis County’s Charter form of government went into effect, replacing the County Court with a Supervisor and seven Councilmen. The provisions for Civil Service in County Government went into effect in October 1952.
1952 (January) – The Visiting Nurse Association assumed responsibility for giving bedside nursing care in Saint Louis County. Previously, the Health Department’s nursing staff had provided this service, supported by funds from the Community Chest.
1953 – A training course for X-ray technicians was established at County Hospital.
1954 – The Health Department’s Environmental Health Services were reorganized and expanded. In the following years, such items as the first local nuisance ordinance, restaurant ordinance, milk control ordinance and septic tank construction ordinance were adopted. These laws, however, covered only the unincorporated areas of the County. A special contract program was established to provide similar services to municipalities who requested them. In 1967, health ordinances began to be adopted on a County-wide basis.
1958 – The Health Department’s new building made possible by the 1954-55 bond issues was completed. The Department gave up its offices at County Hospital and moved into its new address at 801 S. Brentwood Boulevard on October 15, 1958.
1959 (January) – The Health Department’s first permanent, on-going regional office was established - the North District Office at 123 Adams Street in Ferguson. Dr. Jane Cadbury was appointed to direct the office. It moved to 206 S. Florissant Road (about a block away) in 1966, being renamed the North County Health Center.
1960 – Dr. Leo A. Will retired as Chief of County Hospital’s Medical Staff. He had served in that capacity since 1936.