Health Care in Michigans Thumb

The 1920s Red Cross Provided Health Care in Michigans Thumb

In a world where access to healthcare is not always easy, especially in rural areas, the efforts of the Red Cross nurse in Sanilac County, Michigan, are truly commendable. Providing health care in Michigan’s Thumb was a challenge. The 946 square miles of the county are home to many people who live far from any medical facility or meeting place, making it challenging to access basic health information and resources. However, the Red Cross nurse found a way to reach out to these communities with the help of a ten-foot trailer that she calls the “child welfare special.”

The Red Cross House on Wheels

This small house on wheels may seem insignificant, but it is a game-changer for the people of Sanilac County. Equipped with a cot, a scale, a homemade refrigerator, a measuring table, a baby basket, literature, and posters, this trailer provides essential health services and information to the county’s residents. It is hooked on the end of a Ford coupe and weighs 1,440 lbs., making it easy to move from one location to another, even with the help of a few small boys.

Health Care in Michigans Thumb - Red Cross Nurse

Despite the challenges of reaching out to communities that are hesitant to attend anything resembling health meetings, the Red Cross nurse has managed to hold 26 baby conferences around the trailer. At these conferences, 1,590 babies and children have been weighed and measured, and parents have received valuable advice and literature on how to care for their children’s health needs. The trailer has also appeared at picnics and fairs, in front of country stores, and down the long, long country roads, providing much-needed advice and services to the people of Sanilac County.

Sometimes the Only Access to Health Care Was The Red Cross

Weighing children in one of the rural schools, Lancaster. This school is six miles out from the village. There are fifteen children and 12 were badly underweight
Weighing children in one of the rural schools. There are fifteen children, and 12 are badly underweight.

The efforts of the Red Cross nurse and her child welfare special are a testament to the importance of providing accessible healthcare to all. While it is easy to take for granted the resources and information available to us in urban areas, we must recognize the challenges faced by those living in rural communities. The Red Cross nurse has shown us that with creativity and determination, it is possible to bridge the gap and reach out to those in need.

In conclusion, the Red Cross nurse and her ten-foot trailer are shining examples of the power of community outreach and healthcare accessibility. The trailer may be small, but its impact is significant, as it has provided vital health services and information to the people of Sanilac County. We can all learn from the nurse’s determination and dedication to helping others, and we should strive to make healthcare accessible to all, regardless of where they live.

What Was Sanilac County Like in the 1920s?

Learning to Care for Baby
Classes for Baby Care

Sanilac County, Michigan, in the 1920s was a rural county located in the eastern part of the state, along the shore of Lake Huron. According to the 1920 U.S. Census, the population of Sanilac County was 49,834 people, and by 1930, it had increased to 52,120 people.

The major industry in the county during the 1920s was agriculture, particularly the cultivation of potatoes, beans, and sugar beets. The county was also known for its fruit orchards, mainly apple and cherry. The county seat of Sandusky had several small manufacturing industries, including carriage and wagon factories, a creamery, and a sawmill.

Learning to Make Baby Food - Library of Congress
Learning to Make Baby Food – Library of Congress

While no particularly famous individuals lived in Sanilac County during the 1920s, there were a few notable people with connections to the area. For example, the famous labor leader Walter Reuther was born in Wheeling Township in the southern part of the county in 1907. Additionally, the author Jim Harrison spent time in the county during his childhood and wrote about the area in his book, “Returning to Earth.”

The Special Relationship Between the Red Cross and Michigans Thumb

Canteen Service - Library of Congress
Canteen Service – Library of Congress

The relationship between the Red Cross and Michigan’s Thumb region has been special and lasted for more than a century. The Thumb is a rural area located in the eastern part of Michigan, along the shore of Lake Huron, and it has a history of being prone to natural disasters, such as fires, floods, and severe weather. The Red Cross has provided assistance and support during these times of crisis, and the people of the Thumb have come to rely on the organization’s help.

One of the earliest instances of the Red Cross’s involvement in the Thumb region was during the Great Fire of 1881, which burned over a million acres of land and destroyed many homes and businesses. The Red Cross provided food, clothing, and medical care to the people affected by the fire, and its efforts were greatly appreciated by the Thumb residents.

Flint Crisis Red Cross
The Author Volunteered with the Red Cross During the Flint Water Crisis

Over the years, the Red Cross has continued to assist during times of crisis, such as during the severe weather events that are common in the area, including tornadoes and blizzards. Additionally, the organization has worked to promote health and safety in the Thumb through programs such as blood drives, CPR training, and disaster preparedness education.

Overall, the relationship between the Red Cross and Michigan’s Thumb region is a special one that has lasted for many years. The people of the Thumb know that they can count on the organization to provide assistance and support during times of crisis. They appreciate the Red Cross’s commitment to promoting health and safety in the community.

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Michael Hardy

Mike Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. It started in 2009 as a fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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