Called to Serve
In addition to seeing children in her private practice, Annie Alexander lent her skills to the care of abandoned girls, to the public schools, and to the national effort of World War One. At times her zeal for the public health threatened to endanger her own.
From the Charlotte Daily Observer, Feb 20, 1907, p.6
(28 visits in four months is 1-2 times per week.)
The Florence Crittenton Mission was launched by Charles Nelson Crittenton of New York, a businessman who turned philanthropist upon the death of his daughter. ("Mr. Crittenton Arrives," Charlotte Daily Observer, January 18, 1903, p.5) A Crittenton home for unwed girls and their babies opened in Charlotte in 1905. Dr. Annie Alexander was named as one of a team of eleven "lady managers" entrusted with running it. ("Home Nearly Completed" Charlotte Daily Observer, June 18, 1905, p.5) She remained an official physician to the Crittenton home until her death in 1929. In 1919 she adopted a boy from the Crittenton home. He became her son, Robert Alexander.
Charlotte Observer, January 9, 1918, p.6
In December of 1917, Major B. W. Brown, of the United States Public Health Service, appointed Dr. Annie as Assistant Surgeon to oversee the medical work in Charlotte Schools. Earlier that year, she quickly diagnosed an outbreak of trachoma, a serious eye disease, in one of the city schools. (See following article.) Dr. Annie and two nurses made regular visits to each of the schools to examine the students and prescribed treatment when necessary. She performed all of these duties while attending her regular practice.
Over the course of her career, she examined thousands of school children. Dr. Annie treated diseases caused by nutritional deficiency and parasites spread in unsanitary living conditions. She also looked for any early signs of contagious diseases, especially whooping cough, measles, scarlet fever and tuberculosis.
Doctors treating patients with contagious diseases were just as susceptible as the general population. Dr. Annie’s case of “grip" (the flu) occurred a year before the world was engulfed by pandemic influenza. In Charlotte, the 1918 influenza hit especially hard at Camp Greene.
Charlotte Observer, April 18, 1918, p.6
Dr. Annie also attended soldiers at Camp Greene. Numerous communicable diseases incapacitated the men for weeks at a time. She was appointed acting assistant surgeon at Camp Greene. Because of her diminuitive stature, it was necessary for Dr. Annie to perform her surgeries standing on a small wooden stool which remains in the family.
Dr. Alexander cared for her community, and the community in turn put its trust in her.