Looking Back: Physician Affiliation: Yates County Primary Care | Lifestyle


T.The early inhabitants of Yates County, the Seneca, had their own physicians who treated the sick with herbal remedies. The Senecas used plants such as roses, legumes, sunflowers, mustard greens, and heather to create tonics to treat poison ivy, coughs, infections, and more.

The medical beliefs of those outside the Native American community at the time differed markedly. Herbs and flowers were used to make tonics and ointments, often mixed with harsh ingredients that caused a lot of stress and damage to the body. This practice was part of their belief in heroic medicine, and doctors believed that a significant negative response to a treatment meant it was working.

When followers of the religious leader Public Universal Friend came to what is now Yates County in the 1780s, they did not bring a trained physician. Friend served as the Society’s physician, and when a devotee became ill or injured, he would appear with a set of medicines. One time, a friend fractured a woman’s leg after falling down a steep slope into Seneca Lake without taking antibiotics or painkillers.

A medicine kit used by a friend contains laudanum and a mysterious decoction likely to be calomel. These drugs were used almost constantly by physicians from the 18th century to his 19th century. Laudanum was opium dissolved in alcohol and was effective for pain and coughs. It is highly addictive and has caused many health problems. By the 19th century, it was used as a “cure-all” and was given to women for convulsions, people with insomnia and anxiety, and even babies for sleep. Calomel is a natural mineral, mercury chloride. By the early 19th century, doctors regularly prescribed it for all kinds of aches and pains. It is highly toxic and can cause skin damage and tooth loss.

People at this time still believed in the 1st-century Galen teaching that the body is made up of four fluids (blood, sputum, black bile, and yellow bile), and that any imbalance in any of these fluids causes disease. He clung to the teachings of becoming a would occur. Physicians used these harsh drugs to “balance the fluids.” They also used phlebotomy, using scalpels to open veins and leeches to remove “bad” blood from the sick.

Yates’ Early Physicians

Eventually, board-certified doctors migrated to the area. Many of the doctors of the time were not trained according to modern standards and were probably apprenticed to older doctors who learned in the same way. Going to medical school was uncommon, especially in rural areas, and he was almost non-existent in the United States in the late 18th to early 19th century.

Dr. William Cornwell moved to Penn Yan in 1809 and became the first physician in Yates County. He participated in his War of 1812, taught in schools, and later became a lawyer.

Dr. Andrew Oliver immigrated to Penn Yan from Otsego County in 1818. He too was trained under an older doctor. He purchased a collection of medical texts for his personal research and took them all with him. Oliver rode to Italy to care for the patient. He meticulously recorded dates, patient names, treatments, and fees charged for each. His record is a window into medical care in Yates County in the early 19th century. The distance he traveled indicated that there were few doctors living in this county, and one of his most common acts, the extraction of teeth, was a reminder that there were no dentists available. Prove it. He also compounded his own medicines and frequently dispensed ointments and tablets of his own making, indicating that his pharmacists were in short supply as well.

Oliver charged the equivalent of about $120 per visit. His next most common act, the administration of the smallpox vaccine, cost him 50 cents, a modern equivalent of about $15.

Oliver helped found the Yates County Medical Society, which met at Benham Tavern beginning March 4, 1823. The association “has the power to screen candidates for admission to medical and surgical practices, and must not only admit them to membership in the association, but also license them as practitioners.” said Louis Cass-Aldrich.

Oliver’s son William and grandson William also followed him into the medical world. By the time William I was ready to become a doctor, he was expected to at least graduate from medical school. William attended the Medical College of Geneva, which opened in 1846, but missed Elizabeth Blackwell’s time there. During Dr. William’s career, many physicians still practiced “heroic medicine.” However, during Dr. William’s career, especially after the Civil War, this type of treatment fell out of favor as it was not very effective and painful.

His son, “Young Doctor” William, was born in 1857. He earned his medical degree from the Buffalo College of Medicine. For many years he served as physician and surgeon for the Northern Central Railway. He also enjoyed extensive practice in Yates County. During the lifetime of young Dr. William, the use of laudanum and calomel was phased out. Gentle healing techniques were used and the concept of palliative care was established.

The use of ether to reduce pain during surgery was first used in 1846 and established during the Young Doctor’s career. The most important change in Western medicine was the acceptance of the germ theory by the 1880s and the discovery of viruses by the 1890s. The Young Doctor knew all these updates, and the people of Yates County benefited from this gentler medical treatment. He was a beloved figure in the community.

Another founding member of the Yates County Medical Society was Dr. John Hatmaker. His granddaughter, Susanna Clara Hatmaker, followed in his medical footsteps and became a registered nurse. She received a college education, unusual for her late nineteenth century. She opened her first hospital in Penn Her Yan, East She bought her Gothic Revival style house in Main Sher Street, and in 1911 she opened seven hospital rooms. She survived World War I, but the hospital was forced to close when an influenza pandemic hit in 1918. Shortage of nurses and deteriorating health conditions.

Interestingly, she had a close relationship with Public Universal Friend, Yates County’s first physician. Her great-grandparents, Benedict Robinson and Susannah Brown, were followers of this sect (and the first couple married in what is now Yates County), and likely benefited from a friend’s therapy.



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