Author comprises history of Fort Stanton’s hospital days
by Carolyn Schrader

Fort Stanton Marine Hospital was established in 1899 at the old military post in Lincoln County. This hospital was the first Public Health Service sanatorium devoted to merchant marine seamen suffering from tuberculosis. James McBride’s new book Fort Stanton Marine Hospital: Public Health Service 1899-1953 takes the reader through the 54 years of the hospital’s existence. He provides a brief history of the Public Health Service and the creation of the hospital. The history continues through the decades of use, the early war years and the closure in 1953 when tuberculosis was determined to be under control with the advent of new drugs and the government reorganized its departments in post war efforts.

The book is a wealth of information and includes hundreds of pictures. This detailed, well-researched photo essay history high-lights many of the people that worked or lived at the hospital. The “before” and “now” scenes are enlightening to anyone interested in the evolution of a community. McBride’s photo captions include details about the people and location so the reader has an understanding of the event, not just a statement of the subject of the photo.

McBride includes excerpts from semi-official documents such as hospital log books and personal records, providing a unique insight into the operations of the sanatorium. The book also covers the lifestyle of the hospital patients. McBride explains how the hospital strived to be self-sustaining, with the raising of much its own food; how it dealt with the contagious disease; and how the resident patients spent their time. Many were not bed-ridden and needed activities to help regain health and keep them occupied.

The author also discussed the internment camp, comprised of sailors from the German cruise liner SS Columbus. Those interested in an in-depth history of the internment years should read McBride’s first book, Interned, the Internment of the SS Columbus Crew at Fort Stanton, New Mexico, 1941-1945, published in 2003.

Carolyn Schrader, with her husband Bill Martin, owns Southwest Book Roundup in Capitan that focuses on books about the Southwest.

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