The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 325
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more than twenty-five thousand people-including physicians-sought refuge in
its mild weather and dry air.
The Caregivers: El Paso's Medzcal History 2898-z998 is actually a series of articles
related to the region's rich medical history rather than one comprehensive nar-
rative. Written by El Paso Times journalist Barbara Funkhouser, the book is lav-
ishly illustrated with historical photos gleaned from the El Paso Medical Society,
historical archives, and private collections.
Even though relatively isolated on the state's westernmost tip, El Paso devel-
oped a vibrant and diverse medical community-thanks to pioneering Roman
Catholic religious, visionary physicians and the U.S. Army, which established
Fort Bliss in 1854 and the William Beaumont General Hospital in 1921. The
area now had government-supported, academic, for-profit and religious-based
Tuberculosis, influenza, polio-epidemics infected and affected people and
social structures. A poignant essay by Alexine Bartz, reprinted from the El Paso
Historical Society's journal, gives a first-person account of her bout with small-
pox in 1914 when she was a young child. Sent to a "pest house" to recover, she
sneaks out of her ward in the biting cold winter to see "10o wooden boxes laid
out in a row."
She continued: "Presently several men came out, bearing sheet-covered bodies
and laid them in the boxes one by one, then placed the boxes on horse drawn
wagons and slowly lumbered out the old picket gates and on to the cemetery"
Two opening interviews with presidents of the El Paso County Medical Society
dwell on the problems of physician reimbursement, managed care, and political
clout. It was obvious that these interviews were done before the Balanced Budget
Act of 1997 further walloped health-care funding. Then, two hundred pages
later, on pages 238 and 239, are letters written in 1900 from physicians ques-
tioning their reimbursement from railroads for caring for sick workers. Thus,
managed-care problems haven't changed much over the century.
The author adds several interesting sections on the development of nursing
education from diploma programs to advanced-practice nursing-from the
Hotel Dieu Hospital School of Nursing in 1898 and the Providence Hospital
School of Nursing in El Paso in 1902 to the Texas Tech University Health
Sciences Center with its medical school and allied-health training.
Reading the book was oftentimes frustrating with too much typographical
frou-frou. The book's design is distracting and overdone, often competing with
and overwhelming the interesting historical photos. How I wished the book's
designer would have allowed these remarkable photos to speak for themselves.
The small caps and reverse type cutlines over marbleized screens were often
hard to read. The book would have benefited from judicious editing and proof-
ing. The same photo of the Baby Sanatorium is repeated on Page 98-a smaller
version inset into the larger picture.
Patricia K Benoit
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/377/: accessed March 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.