Health Care: The Low Country


In South Carolina's low country region, the medical establishment operated within the confines of Charleston's city limits. Its center was the McClennan Hospital and Training School for Nurses and the doctors who founded and staffed it. In the surrounding rural low country, traditional folk medicine, characterized by the use of indigenous herbal remedies and presided over by "book" or "root" doctors and "grannies", was firmly established. Medical doctors who practiced part-time in rural clinics, licensed nurse-midwives, and the Penn Center program to retrain granny midwives served as intermediaries between clinical medicine and traditional medicine.

Despite the work of intermediaries, adherence to the practice of traditional medicine remained strong in the low country due to several factors: first, the fundamental religious and traditional beliefs of the people, second, their habitual self-reliance, and third, their marginalization due to economic and racial factors and their physical distance from the sources of clinical medicine.




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