The Spirit of Reform.
During the first two decades of the century, the country was alive with the spirit of reform. Advancements in medicine coincided with socio-political reforms as Progressive Era reformers demanded that government take more responsibility for Americans' health. In the first decades of the century the people of the United States saw extraordinary advances in medical science and technology. In the second decade, especially, enormous improvements were made in the ways physicians were trained and hospitals were organized. World War I highlighted many of the health and medical issues of the country even as, it accelerated improvements in medical care at great cost. But though American life and health was improving overall, not all Americans benefited equally. In the 1910s the country was still struggling with many pressing health issues and would face its single most devastating health crisis of the twentieth century in the great influenza pandemic of 1918 to 1919, which resulted in over a half-million deaths.
The example of syphilis in the 1910s indicated both the promise of medical research and the difficulty health workers faced in effecting widespread change. Victims of syphilis had little cause for hope until German scientist Paul Ehrlich's discovery of a compound named salvarsan, which stopped the organism...
(The entire section is 1722 words.)
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