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Title: Tosh Yasutake Interview
Narrator: Tosh Yasutake
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 14, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ytosh-01-0007

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AI: So eventually then the beet topping was over and you went back into camp and did you go back to your hospital work there?

TY: Yes, we all went back to work in the hospital, the usual hospital. And then shortly thereafter I worked as a male attendant. And since there were a lack of nurses we did a lot of things the nurses did. For instance, like giving medication to the patients and taking temperatures and doing, taking blood pressures. And I wanted to do something -- I thought maybe I'd like to work in the hospital lab as a med-tech. So I approached the head nurse and asked whether I could possibly do that. And she said, "Well, if you're interested you can." So after about two days of training and preparation I had -- I remember taking blood from the first patient. I was so nervous my hand was shaking like this and I was thinking, I wonder what the patient was thinking. [Laughs] But after a few successful taking of the blood, well, I did okay, so I became a medical, med-tech and I took blood samples and I even did blood counts and things like that and I got about two months of training that was very interesting. I really enjoyed that part of it. I learned something, something really useful I thought, and I feel like I was doing -- make much better use of myself than pushing bedpans.

TI: At that point, when you decided to do that, you were pre-med at the university.

TY: Uh-huh.

TI: At that point, were you still thinking that you would possibly go into medicine? What were you thinking at that time?

TY: Yeah, when I went back to school, back in '46 after I got out of the army, I became pre-med. But I quickly changed my mind because the organic chemistry just did me in. [Laughs]. Apparently that's what usually washes the people, people out, washes the men from the boys. [Laughs]

AI: When, excuse me, going back to the hospital at Minidoka. I was just wondering what kinds of cases you saw there.

TY: What kind of what?

AI: Cases, what kinds of problems, the diseases or --

TY: Oh, cases?

AI: -- illnesses, that --

TY: Oh, well, the whole gamut, I think. I spent a lot of time working in the old patient's ward, men's ward, taking care of old men. And there were quite a few older people who just -- they had dysentery or some long-term illness that they -- so we had a senior citizen, special ward that had nothing but old men. I took care of the men's ward and that was pretty traumatic for me because I thought gee, these people are just coming in to die. And no matter what you do you just feel like you're not contributing too much, to the length of the life any more than they really -- some of them really seemed like they didn't really care anymore. They'd given up. Many of them did, I think. And I think largely because of the condition in camp, I think, and being interned, I mean, being in relocation center like that, uprooted from their home at their age. It must have been pretty traumatic for them.

AI: Do you think some of their conditions would have improved if they could have gotten better medical care?

TY: Ah, boy, that's a good question. Well, they did take -- serious people did -- were able to, were given the chance to go to general hospitals, I think, in Twin Falls. But in most cases we had doctors that were very capable. It's just the equipment. Some of the equipment, we didn't have the equipment, but far as personnel goes, I think we probably had as good a doctor you find anywhere. Some of the Issei doctors are very good and we had a couple of Nisei doctors, too, older Niseis. The doctors, like Dr. Shigaya and Dr. Suzuki and... they were old-time doctors in Seattle and so they were pretty well-known in Japanese community and well-respected. So, no, I think that the care in general in the hospital was quite good.

AI: So, perhaps it was more the general --

TY: Psychological thing more, I think, yes.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.