Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/393

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THE MEDICAL SIDE OF IMMIGRATION

cabin and steerage aliens, and the medical officer has no duty beyond the purely medical inspection.

Commissioner of Immigration Williams for the Port of New York in his recent report[1] for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1911, makes some pertinent observations and recommendations regarding the medical phases of the immigration question at Ellis Island. He finds that the present medical quarters are not large enough for the proper execution of the laws relating to physical and mental defectives. Expansion to an appropriate size is prevented by the failure of Congress to appropriate the funds requested. He notes the large number of feeble-minded children in the schools of New York City who have passed Ellis Island, and gives as one reason, lack of time and facilities for thorough examination as to mental condition. The result is that the law in this particular is practically a dead letter. According to the law, the feeble-minded as well as idiots and imbeciles are absolutely excluded. It is of vast import that the feeble-minded be detected, not alone because they are predisposed to become public charges, but because they and their offspring contribute so largely to the criminal element. All grades of moral, physical and social degeneracy appear in their descendants, and it is apparent how grave is the social and economic problem involved. The steamship companies do not exercise proper precautions in receiving immigrants for passage, and this makes all the more necessary a rigid inspection at the port of entry into this country.

The report of the Chief Medical Officer on Ellis Island, Dr. G. W. Stoner,[2] shows that during the year ending June 30, 1911, nearly 17,000 aliens were certified for physical or mental defect and over 5,000 of these were deported (not necessarily for medical reasons alone). Among those certified were 209 mental defectives, of whom 45 per cent, were feeble-minded, and 33 per cent, insane. Under loathsome and dangerous contagious diseases there were 1,361 cases, of which 85 per cent, were trachoma. Over 11,000 aliens had a defect or diseases affecting ability to earn a living and half of these were due to age and the changes incident to senescence. More than 4,000 certificates were rendered for conditions not affecting ability to earn a living.

Over 6,000 aliens were treated in the immigrant hospital, beside 720 cases of contagious disease, which were transferred to the State Quarantine Hospital at the harbor entrance before the completion of the present contagious-disease hospital on Ellis Island. Among these 700 there were a hundred deaths, chiefly from measles, scarlet fever and meningitis. The medical officers also examined 168 cases which had become public charges in surrounding towns of New York, New Jersey

  1. Williams, Wm., Commissioner of Immigration for Port of New York, Annual Report for year ending June 30, 1911.
  2. Stoner, G. W., M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Ellis Island, Annual Report for year ending June 30, 1911.