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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BUREAU OF CHILD HYGIENE

BUREAU OF CHILD HYGIENE

The BUREAU OF CHILD HYGIENE was set up in 1912 by the Cleveland Health Department to reduce infant mortality. Because many illnesses of young children were caused by milk-borne pathogens, the bureau's main duty was to oversee milk production and distribution. As part of the Health Department, the Bureau of Child Hygiene initially set up 12 stations--called Prophylactic Infant & Children's Dispensaries--throughout the city. The stations were staffed by medical personnel, including physicians, who advised mothers in infant care, referred sick infants to the Babies' Dispensary, and distributed specially processed milk. The bureau was established by the health commissioner, Clyde Ford. Dr. Chauncy Wyckoff, the first associate director of the Babies' Dispensary, was assigned as chief physician. Wyckoff was largely responsible for organizing the bureau and implementing its programs. After several years he was succeeded by Dr. R. J. Oschsner, who ran the bureau and its successors for over 20 years. To ensure sanitary procedures in milk production, the bureau established the Bellamy-Ganderton dairy farm in Bedford. Wyckoff made biweekly inspections of the farm. Dairy workers, instructed in hand hygiene, were required to wear white overalls and collect the milk under clean conditions. After collection, the milk was immediately refrigerated in 10-gallon cans. All cows were tuberculin tested, and samples of milk were taken daily to the Cleveland city lab for bacterial count. Horse-drawn refrigerated wagons (and later motorized vehicles) delivered milk to the 12 stations and the Babies' Dispensary, where it sold for $.10 a quart and given free to mothers who could not pay. Several volunteer organizations aided in its distribution and also helped to subsidize costs. As sanitation in milk production became standardized, the bureau lost some of its importance. In the late 1920s it was replaced by the Chief Bureau of Child Welfare.


See also PUBLIC HEALTH and MEDICINE.