Fighting For Life By Josephine Baker Summary

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Sara Josephine Baker was the first woman to serve as a top administrator in the New York Board of Health. By reading Baker’s memoir, Fighting for Life, people will be able to approach the process of how she became a pioneer of public health from an unknown inspector through historical descriptions of New York City. Baker expressed her modern perspective on women’s rights as she described her meeting with Mary Mallon. According to Baker, Mary Mallon was discovered as a source of typhoid fever infection by Dr. George A. Soper. Thus, Baker was assigned as an inspector to get Mallon’s blood and urine specimens. However, Mallon didn’t believe she was the source of the infection because she didn’t feel ill. Mallon tried to escape and resist when…show more content…
She was assigned to examine the students’ health in New York’s public schools. She described the routine inspection was “superficial” and “farcical” because it was always a quick diagnosis. Due to the poor living conditions, most of the children were discovered having different diseases such as pediculosis, scabies, trachoma, ringworms… The children were sent home instead of having a treatment. Meanwhile, Baker and her colleagues didn’t agree with the Department’s solution. They gathered a group of experienced and skilled women in public health to find a new direction. They were a group of women but their capability and adaptability in their works were not lesser than any men. They finally found an effective solution that can actually improve the situation. These powerful women pointed out the key term was “preventive care”. They decided to build a scheme to help the underprivileged families. They began to introduce the kerosene shampoo and fine-tooth comb technique to the parents, establish clinic in each school, and operate special classes for students who had trachoma. The Department of Health was impressed with the positive results from experiments. They decided to involve by employing more nurses to spread the techniques. It also placed a fundament for the uses of school nurses in the United States. Through this event, Baker and her female colleagues’ successfully navigated their…show more content…
The success of Baker and her colleagues in limiting the effect of contagious disease gave her a chance to work with the Bureau of Municipal Research. She was assigned to help them investigating New York’s City death rate. The facts from the investigation gained her attention on the infant mortality rate. After interviewing the mothers form the slum area, she realized the tragedies could be avoided if the mothers were taught what to do. Furthermore, she also realized the problem of the Department of Health was they waited until something had happened to take action. Unfortunately, she had no actual power to change the fact at that time. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Municipal Research had similar perspective with her. They suggested the Department should give her a try. Eventually, Baker created the Division of Child Hygiene with nothing in her hands. Baker had to face many obstacles in her way to develop the Division. In order to get the budget from the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, Baker had to do a trial experiment. With the help of the nurses on the school inspection, Becker chose a high infant mortality rate area to begin her experiment. Basically, the scheme was similar to the scheme she used in her previous task. She educated the people how to take care of their babies. At first, the nurses were having troubles

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