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Monday, January 6, 2014

Mae Cardwell in Japan

Mae Harrington Whitney Cardwell (1853-1929) was a leading woman physician, public health activist, and suffrage supporter in Oregon. The Medical Sentinel, published in Portland by Henry Waldo Coe, featured her "Random Observations in Japan" in the June 1920 issue, a report of her recent visit to hospitals and health care facilities in that nation. (Mae H. Cardwell, "Random Observations in Japan," Medical Sentinel 28, no. 6 [June 1920]: 265-268).

A sanitation expert and advocate in the U.S., Cardwell praised hygienic practices in the hospitals she visited and used the opportunity to challenge colleagues back home. "I have often thought, if it were in my power, I would cause all hospitals in the United States to adopt the Japanese style of removing the shoes when entering hospitals or home. One can hardly realize," she wrote, " without witnessing the result, what a difference in the amount of dust and dirk inside. At the entrance of every hospital an attendant either assists the visitor in putting on a clean slipper, or putting a clean cloth cover over the shoe of the visitor. I believe such a custom would aid in lowering mortality rates in the United States."