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at a time. Considering the fact that there are seven distinct chemical substances to be synthetized, the progress naturally has been slow and tedious. But considering the disadvantages under which Mr. Kober has labored, the outcome is very encouraging. It is too soon to make definite statements in regard to the finished product: some salvarsan has already been obtained.
Research and special investigations have been introduced into all laboratory work in conjunction with the routine procedures in order to stimulate the interest of the staff in attaining and then maintaining the highest standards in their technical procedures, but many of the special investigations have been interrupted on account of the war, and what has been accomplished along these lines has been done in spite of difficulties. Hardly any original work done during 1917 is worth commenting upon except that in connection with the production of salvarsan. For purposes of record it has been found necessary to coordinate all phases of research work and centralize it in the library.
The library and research No one thing has contributed more to protect the laboratory against the threatened disorganziation occasioned by the war situation and to maintain and even develop its standards of efficiency in the work than the close connection which is being organized between the library and the laboratory as a whole. Time and thought have been spent during 1917 in formulating and bringing together the standard methods used in the routine work of the laboratory, and in having this technical procedure arranged so that changes and improvements made in it from time to time may be recorded and kept for reference in the library.
Also the coordination of all research work and special investigation is being centralized in the library, thus bringing all results under the critical review of the director. It is intended to have outlines and reports of problems to be undertaken or which have been concluded, together with scientific papers of every sort written by members of the staff filed in the library. This matter of having the library care for the scientific literature relating to the laboratory activities has been shown to be necessary. The laboratory has grown with such rapidity, and the demands for further expansion have been so insistent, that the former system of filing has become entirely inadequate for the needs of rapid reference. Accordingly a special file with an accompanying index has been started.
During 1917 members of the staff presented papers and attended the following meetings of scientific societies:
Amsterdam Medical Association..... Amsterdam, N. Y.
... New York City.
.. Utica, N. Y. American Society for Clinical Investigation
Atlantic City, N. J. Association of American Physicians.. Atlantic City, N. J. American Public Health Association.. Washington, D. C. Philadelphia County Medical Society. Philadelphia, Pa. Annual Conference of Biological Chemists
New York City.
New York City.
Efforts have been made to improve the work of the office. Heretofore the office assistants who have been detailed to service in the Division of Laboratories and Research have not, as a rule, had any knowledge of the biological sciences. At first, being unfamiliar with all the scientific and technical terms used and the general routine of the place they naturally can not be very useful, and later even after a considerable period spent in the work they usually have but a superficial familiarity with the scientific subjects connected with the laboratory, and are unable from lack of sufficient preliminary education to grasp the principles underlying their work and to appreciate its significance in relation to the laboratory as a whole.
The Civil Service Commission has agreed to hold a special examination which will be prepared with a view to testing the general education and intelligence of an applicant, as well as her clerical ability. Some knowledge and experience in business methods and procedure, in bookkeeping, stenography, etc.,
is required, but efficient work can not be expected from a person whose intellect has not been adequately trained, nor can defects of character due to lack of early discipline be remedied. We must have adequate material to begin with, or our training represents just as much lost time as far as obtaining any commensurate return in value to the laboratory is concerned.
The noteworthy increase in the personnel of the office staff, and their interest in the work, is nevertheless apparent, and is well shown by the increasing efficiency in checking against clerical errors and the facility in conducting the routine work. The cooperation of health officers and physicians by calling attention to errors of omission and commission is always invited in order to attain the highest standards of service.
Courses of instruction
Courses of instruction in public health work have been offered to health officers and physicians of the State under the auspices of the Albany Medical College in order to enable them to meet the requirements of the Public Health Council. In these courses of instruction the laboratory has cooperated fully, giving demonstrations of all phases of its work and activities. A practical laboratory course was given under the auspices of the Albany Medical School for the New York University and Bellevue Medical School in order to enable health officers who had registered and taken the correspondence course, but who were unable to go to New York city to have the practical demonstration. A total of 114 health officers attended this course.
Branch, county, and municipal laboratories During the year 1917 an especially noteworthy increase in the extent and importance of the work is to be noted in the records of the branch laboratory situated in New York city. These records will be found tabulated in the appendix. Long Island, and the greater part of the districts of Westchester and Rockland counties are served by this laboratory, as the health officers and physicians of these districts cannot obtain satisfactory service from Albany.
The central laboratory in Albany has been brought during the year 1917 into much closer touch with the ten county and twentytwo municipal laboratories of the State owing to increasing cooperation and supervision. The registration of all laboratories within the State, has also served to bring the laboratories into closer relation.
But more important than all these agencies is the organization of a New York State Association of Public Health Laboratories. During the year 1917 a course of instruction in the type diagnosis of pneumonia was given to the directors of several laboratories. At this time plans for a State association were formulated, and the organization will undoubtedly prove of great mutual benefit.
With the declaration of war enormous demands were made upon the laboratory, and owing to the limited facilities and the fact that all the resources of the laboratory were greatly overtaxed, it was necessary to formulate new plans for the extension of the work to meet emergencies. Many of these plans, including the equipment of an additional building for laboratory purposes, failed, but with the support of funds allowed by the Adjutant General of the State and by the State Defence Council it was possible to meet some of these emergencies, though only to a limited extent. The trustees and the director of the Bender Laboratory offered half of their well equipped building for three months without compensation, and the rental of these quarters has enabled the laboratory to carry on work which otherwise it would have been impossible to do.
Despite the increased appropriations which the legislature provided for the work of 1917, many of these appropriations were exhausted within four months of the time they became available on account of the greatly increased cost of supplies and equipment, and on account of the extraordinary demands upon the laboratory. This situation was met by the support of funds provided by the Adjutant General on account of the service which the laboratory rendered the National Guard and Naval Militia. Of these appropriations amounting to $25,000, more than $20,000 were used during 1917.
The laboratory has been called upon to serve several of the United States Army camps and posts in the State or on its borders. Outfits for specimens were distributed, and specimens were received for the diagnosis of communicable diseases from Camp Mills, Camp Upton, Garden City Aviation Camp, U. S. Naval Aviation Station at Bayshore, Camp Merritt, Mobilization Camp at Syracuse, Training Camp at Madison Barracks, Training Camp at Plattsburg, and Aviation Station No. 1 at Hempstead.
The United States Army and Expeditionary Forces have taken all the surplus antipneumococcus, antimeningococcus, and antidysentery serums which the laboratory with its present facilities could prepare. These serums were distributed at first to Red Cross hospitals in France, and the Base hospitals leaving this country, but at the request of the Army Medical school all these supplies were sent to Washington to be distributed from the Army Medical school.
New troops of the State Guard, and many other organizations of the State have drawn upon the laboratory for supplies, and the laboratory has also been called upon to examine many articles suspected of being maliciously contaminated.
In order to prepare for emergencies and the field work that might le necessary in the control of epidemics, a mobile laboratory unit was assembled and prepared for immediate service. The plan of the organization of this mobile unit was reported before the laboratory section of the October meeting of the American Public Health Association in Washington.
During 1917 twelve members of the laboratory staff have been drafted, or have resigned to enter the service of the United States army in one capacity or another. Bacteriologists and technicians have been greatly needed by the army, and as many as could be spared from the work here have received the privilege of leave for service,- a privilege which is provided by a recent State law.
The salaries of the staff allowed in the appropriation bill also proved inadequate to hold trained workers in the State service. Twenty-one members of the staff resigned during 1917 to accept positions paying higher salaries varying from 15 per cent or 20 per cent up to 300 per cent increase, and averaging between 60 per cent and 70 per cent increase.