Page 3


‘DISGRACE TO CLOSE DOWN’ Texas Lags Far Behind in Rehabilitation Care Springs Foundation hoard. He has worked with the hospital without pay ever since it started, and has served from time to time as first, second, third, fourth, and fifth vice-president. “There is such a short time to raise the funds,” Smith said, “we’re trying about everything we can.” The staff decided to cut their own salaries to save the place, Smith said, “hut by the grace of God and the good will of the people we paid them in full last month.” More specifically, the National Foundation \(formerly on an account they owed. The Foundation has been getting into a dificit in the last several years, Smith explained, “because we’ve been running things with our heart rather than our head,” accepting charity patients when the money simply wasn’t there or was running out. Kenneth Davis, the business manager, pointed out that the state division of crippled children, an agency of the Public Health Department, sends patients to Gonzales and has been able to pay only about $10 a day, one-third of the cost involved, which means “we’ve got to get twenty charitable dollars somewhere.” The situation is roughly similar with state funds from the vocational rehabilitation division. Last year members of the Gonzales staff lobbied before the legislature and helped get an $85,000 appropriations increase for vocational rehabilitation, but, says Davis, that state agency is “chronically broke” and ranks 50th in the nation. When the executive board decided to close down the Center, Smith said, the Former Patients Association got together by letter and telephone, and sent a delegation to Gonzales. `fThey literally rolled in heie; nearly all of them were on wheelchairs. They ganged around me and said, you :can’t close this place, you can’t turn these ..people out with nowhere to go, and with some of them not even rehabilitated.” The board agreed to give the Center until May 1. Davis said the Center has applied to just about every foundation in the country for help, withcut success. “We took this list of foundations all over the country, in a book that thick. Lots of them, after we ran them down, are just for specific purposes” and not at all related to the field of rehabilitatipn. Smith speculates that a respectable apprOpriation from the state combined with “a concerted fundraising drive each year for charity patients” might be all the Center would need to keep going permanently. Both Davis and Smith cf:timate that the hospital gave the state of Texas about $192,000 in charity care last year alone. The Center, both emphasized, will accept only those patients whom doctors say are able to be rehabilitated. Hopeless cases are not taken. Thousands of disabled people In Texas, Smith said, are not receiving proper treatment. Where do they go if they are turned down? “A lot of them,” Davis said, “are probably lying a round at home dying.” Smith added: “The parents take care of some of them. I don’t know what else.” Smith pointed across the room, where a doctor was helping a young boy walk with the aid of a pair of large, a w k ward crutches. “It takes so much,” he said. “Imagine the patience and care that man has taken to help teach that child to walk.” ‘Too Loosely’ Dr. Odon F. von Werssowetz, jovially and perhaps quite necessarily called “Dr. Von” by the hospital staff, is the medical director. He is a friendly and talkative man, with strong ideas on rehabilitation treatment. A graduate of Prague University, with an M.D. from the University of Toronto, he has been at Gonzales for nine years. The state of Texas, he is quick to say, has not met its responsibilities in the rehabilitation field. “Each day we here must go out and raise $560 to support the state of Texas,” he said. “Rehabilitation is a word that is used too loosely. You must have a co-ordinated program in a number of disciplines. You must treat the whole person. You can’t just treat a broken back.” A sound program includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, bracing, vocational guidance, psychological counselling. The problems to be dealt with are not only physical, they are deeply emotional. “Each discipline has its own language, its own ideas, and they must be co-ordinated.” By the time medical treatment for acute injuries or disorders is paid for, he said, “they’ve used all their resources. Then they became medically indigent.” He repeated what individual staff members say at the start: the Gonzales Center has two-thirds of the beds available in Texas for rehabilitation of the handicapped. It was lunchtime, and the children of the hospital began to come into the cafeteria, sad wrecks of disease and mishap. Von Werssowetz singled out a number of them: one little girl, shot accidently by her brother and paralyzed for life; another young girl who came as a polio patient, was discovered to have a tumor on the spine, had a series of operations, and is paralyzed for life; another with a rare hereditary disease which paralyzes the lower half of the body; a teen-age boy with multiple sclerosis; a ten-year-old boy who .11Pd polio when he was one and must be cared for another ten years before he is out of danger. Nurses and therapists were helping several of them use eating utensils. Von Werssowetz, in the March issue of the Texas Journal of Medicine, wrote that approximate 90,000 Texans suffer from hemiplegia resulting from cerebrovascular accidents or “associated conditions.” These people “need intelligent medical care so that they can regain the fullest capabilities possible within the limitation imposed by their handicaps. We as physicians must rid ourselves of the still prevailing attitude that their treatment is hopeless. “These patients must not be confined to the back bedrooms of homes or hospitals, nor put in custodial institutions or nursing homeswhere they exist with no hope for tomorrow. The defeatist attitude must give way to positive programs of rehabilitation to proVide these people with a happier future and a life worth living.” Youngsters Under 21 No one better personifies the devotion among the former patients of the Center for the work it has done there than Dr. Marjorie Ruth Kirkpatrick, now a member of the Gonzales staff. She was an M.D. at Big Spring in 1956 when she had her neck broken in a car accident. For two months she was treated at the Center. She returned to Gonzales in 1957 and worked on the staff for two years. Then she went to New York as a student at the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, worked ‘under Howard A. Rusk, and satisfied the board requirements, in that highly specialized field. She has been at the Center permanently since 1959. Dr. Kirkpatrick has something in common with many of her patients. She has to use a wheelchair. She believes that the campaign for the Center’s survival will succeed. “Texas,” she says, “would be in one mess if it didn’t have these facilities. “It’s an old rehabilitation center. Our staff has worked together for a long time. The staff we have here would take years and years to duplicate. We work together, we argue and fight, but never personallyit’s always over the patient. “Even when we were bigger, with two buildings open, we still had the same well-co-ordinated staff.” When half the facilities were closed down in 1959 for lack of funds, “I was real upset about it when I heard.” That section of the Center was primarily devoted to children. Like so many other Texans who understand the problems of re 1000 A poll taken by the Houston Press in Galveston County showed Daniel first, Yarborough second, Connally third, and Wilson fourth. 1# Bill Gardner of the Houston Post says there is growing evidence Daniel is in trouble, “and he’s worried.” Wilson is picking up strength and is getting good response to his proposal for an across the-board one percent sales tax. Yarborough is running better than the polls show him, and the “reservoir of voters is still large in all the major campaigns.” vir Vernon Louviere of the Chronicle in Washington writes that although LBJ insists neutrality, “he is strongly behind his one-time protege Connally.” Robert Baskin of the Dallas News Washington bureau says Johnson wants to kill rumors he is helping Connally and likes to point out that Daniel, Wilson, and Formby have also played leading roles in his behalf. “No mention,” Baskin writes, “is ever made of Don Yarborough, who has close ties with Sen. Ralph Yarborough, or Gen. Walker.” frof Lyle Wilson, UPI in Wash ington, believes LBJ’s future is tied up in Connally’s race. Pres. Kennedy must decide whether in ’64 he will have Johnson on the ticket again. If Connally is elected, LBJ will be political ly secure within Texas’ Demo cratic fortifica tions and yeas LIM onably assured of renomination as vice-president. If Connally loses, Johnson will be reduced to ranks in the Texas habilitation, Dr. Kirkpatrick feels the support of the state government “is very inadequate for the youngsters under 21. Of all the things we shouldn’t be skimpy on, I think it’s on the rehabilitation of a child. You don’t know what their potential is until they grow up. Some of these little fellows are as smart as tacks, yet because of their disability they may never be given a chance.” With the exception of two people, she says, everyone on the staff, from doctors and nurses to cooks and janitors, offered to take the 50 percent cut in pay offered to keep the Center going during the drive for money. “I didn’t feel it was right for our lower-paid people, though. Some of us looked around and tried to figure out ways to borrow money for some of these people who don’t get paid much.” One day Dr. Kirkpatrick walked around the building for half an hour or so and found a number of staff workers willing to serve for a time without salary. “It’s not our job security we’re worried about,” she says. “It’s a horrible feeling when all of a sudden you’re given about 15 days to see that over 50 patients are suddenly transferred out and properly cared for.” With some severely disabled patients, “it’s a matter of life and death.” She was equally concerned about roeving out “those people who in two or three more weeks or a month might have learned to feed themselves, or to walk up stairs in braces. “I’d like to see this as a project of the people of Texas rather than a project for the government,” she Demo Party, which will be commanded by someone else. “If so, Johnson’s eligibility for renomination will have much diminished.” Johnson is looking ahead to a possible presidential nomination in 1968, and needs two terms with Kennedy to be in the contest. 1, Harry Holloway, govern ment professor at UT, did ,a study of the poll tax situation in the state’s 12 counties with 100,000-plus population, found that the four of them which consistently vote most liberal lost some 10 percent in voting strength from both ’56 and ’60, the five counties which vote most conservative also lost about 10 percent, and the three counties which have a middle -road reputation lost only 5 percent. post Don Politico of the San An tonio Light thinks the solid political front on the West Side is breaking up. Cmsr. Albert Pena’s attempt to bolster his coalition forces led to open repudiation by Cong. Henry Gonzalez. The two are backing different candidates for county chairman. Furthermore, Pena and PASSO are formally backing Daniel for governor, Dr. Jose San Martin’s growing West Side organization is backing Connally, and the Teamsters and ranking politicos like Lalo Solis and M. C. Gonzales are backing Yarborough. volr Keith Wheatley, Railroad Commission candidate, took a poll of his own among weekly publishers and found himself leading incumbent Ben Ramsey 62 percent to 20 percent, trailed by the GOP’s Bernold Hanson with 10. “What with all this fuss being made on polls lately,” he said, “I decided on a straw poll of my own.” … The