November 29, 1919
Mr. J. W. Blackwelder,
My dear Sir:-
Your letter to Govenor Bickett in regard to Mr. Crouch, formerly an inmate of this Institution, has been refered to me for attention. I can very well appreciate the spirit of your utter indignation, knowing that you are not in possession of all facts. The Institution is opento public inspection at all times, and recently was pronounced through the press of the state to be in a number one, first grade condition, by the inspector sent out by the State Board of Health.
In spite of that however, there are instances among the class of patients coming to the Institution of conditions almost unavoidable, and during the last year, on account of the character and quantity of labor to be secured for help that the Institution has been able to command, many incidents due to abnormal surroundings have occurred, that no one could regret more than the management here does.
The young man in question came to the Institution with a broken arm, and a history of uncontrolable misdoings, reported by chief of police and fire chief; not an uncommon story of the epileptic. This stage of excitement was followed by a period of depression here when patient refused food, was indifferent to all the normalcalls of nature, rendering it almost impossible to maintain perfect sanitary surroundings, and that was no new experience with this class of patients, but is mentioned because the state does not yet furnish a private nurse for each inmate of its Institution. The above symptons are forerunners of the period of mental and not infrequently physical deterioation, which in a measure accounts for the rapid decline of Mr. Crouch refered to in your letter to Governor Bickett. Moreoever, should you have the family physician go over the lungs carefully and examine the sputum, doubtless a conclusion might be arrived at giving additional reason for the condition you seem disposed to lay at the door of your State Institution and its management.
As to the itch discovered by Dr. Menzie, it may not have been in evidence so plainly here, it may have been contracted while here since Mr. Crouch was in a ward where some twenty other children of the Feeble-minded School, burned now a year ago at Kinston, N.C., are being cared for, some of whom we have found had itch. Let me add that on account of meager appropirations we have but one attendant for that ward which contains twenty to thirty patients, and no one more than the Superintendent and those working with him, all of whom do their best, working at niggardly salaries, less than many others make trading horses for a living, know how inadequate this help is.
In conclusion My dear Mr. Blackwelder, let me extend you an invitation to come to Raleigh, get the Govenor; yea the Council of State and come over and advise with us how to best improve conditions here, and it may be, that after then you might withdraw your implied desire that the "authorities here be changed, or the Institution be burned down." There might be justification found for the former, but certainly not for the latter.