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How do Dr. Deveze and Dr. Rush differ in treating Yellow Fever patients in Fever 1793?

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Dr. Rush believed in purging the sickness from the body by making the person vomit and drawing blood from them. He thought that this would release the illness from them and help heal them. Mattie's mother is bled by Dr. Kerr during the novel. He also leaves her herbs to make her vomit and use the bathroom more, in hopes of draining the illness from her.

This was the American method of treating Yellow Fever. Most doctors didn't have experience with it and believed that purging the body was the only solution. However, their methods didn't actually cure Yellow Fever.

Dr. Deveze is a French doctor who works with patients at Bush Hill. Unlike Dr. Rush, he doesn't believe in bloodletting. He wants to leave patients in their beds to rest, drink fluids, and improve naturally.

Dr. Rush's treatment was aggressive and overt. It appeared to be something that would convince people they were being treated. Dr. Deveze's treatment was more hands-off and relied on the body to heal itself.

Ultimately, Mattie convinces Eliza not to undergo bloodletting. She doesn't receive the treatment and still heals from Yellow Fever. Mattie doesn't know the mechanics of the treatment or much about the doctors themselves, but she instinctively believes it will do more harm than good.

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The rival approaches of Dr. Deveze and Dr. Rush illustrate one of the central tensions that existed during the Age of Enlightenment. On the one hand, this was the Age of Reason, a time when growing numbers of educated men and women rejected the prevailing wisdom to embrace a more rational, scientifically-based worldview. On the other hand, the vast majority of people remained committed to the old ways, whether it was orthodox religion or the kind of folk medicine we see practiced by Dr. Rush.

In truth, neither of these two doctors know much about yellow fever and how to treat it, but their approaches couldn't be more different. Dr. Deveze is much more modern in his treatment of the disease, adopting the kind of approach that is strikingly similar to that of medical practitioners in this day and age.

As for Dr. Rush, he still adheres to the tried and trusted methods of blood letting and purging. In modern day terms he'd be dismissed as a quack, a charlatan who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a sick patient.

Yet it's instructive that it's Rush who earns the respect of most people in town, a sure indication that the majority of folk in Philadelphia at that time were far from enlightened in their view of the world.

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As the epidemic rages, Mattie shows a decided preference for the medical approach of the French Dr. Devize, who relies on rest, plenty of fluids, and fresh air to combat the cholera epidemic. Dr. Rush and his disciples, in contrast, take a more aggressive stance. They advocate for bleeding and purging the cholera victims to release the disease from their bodies.

This is the approach Mattie's mother's doctor, Dr. Kerr, takes to treating Mrs. Cook. This method alarms Mattie and weakens her mother. Mattie much more approves of Dr. Devize's commonsense and hands off doctoring.

Mrs. Flagg summarizes what comes to be Mattie's opinion of Dr. Rush's approach:

You’ll hear folks say that Dr. Rush is a hero for saving folks with his purges and blood letting. But I’ve seen different. It’s these French doctors here that know how to cure the fever. I don’t care if Dr. Rush did sign the Declaration of Independence. I wouldn’t let him and his knives near me.

Mattie worries about her mother, who has been copiously bled. In this way, Mattie shows a modern grasp of medicine, for, as the appendix states, Dr. Deveze's approach is still considered the best way to treat cholera. We have to wonder, though, if, like today, people who are frightened want aggressive interventions like Dr. Rush's that seem to be "doing" something, even if that action is harmful rather than helpful.

The case of the two doctors and their rival philosophies illustrate the lack of medical knowledge of the time period and the confusion about how best to treat cholera.

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Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a prominent doctor in Philadelphia in 1793.  He believed that Yellow Fever could best be cured by ridding the body of toxins that had collected in the blood, and espoused a very aggressive treatment of bleeding and purging for his patients.  Dr. Jean Deveze, a refugee from Santo Domingo, was the primary physician in the asylum for the sick established by Stephen Girard, a French-born merchant.  Dr. Deveze disagreed with Rush's practices, and treated his patients by keeping them comfortable and administering mild doses of quinine and stimulants.  His methods are generally thought to have been more effective than those of Dr. Rush.

Although Dr. Rush never appears personally in Laurie Halse Anderson's Fever 1793, he is spoken of as something of an alarmist (Chapter 9).  Mattie, the central character, does come in direct contact with Dr. Deveze, however, when she comes down with the fever herself.  Dr. Deveze is portrayed as a gentle, caring man who does not "carry a lancet or bowl" for bleeding and purging, and Mrs. Flagg, his helper, asserts that although Dr. Rush is considered to be a hero by many, she herself believes that it is "these French doctors here that know how to cure the fever".  In Mattie's case, Dr. Deveze is "most concerned with the color of (her) eyes and tongue, and the temper of (her) pulse".  Measuring her progress on the tenth day of her illness through observation, Dr. Deveze recommends one more night in the asylum.  He views the fact that Mattie is famished as a positive sign, and instructs his aides to "feed her" (Chapter 15).

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