Search This Blog

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Although ancient Greece was medically advanced they had no hospitals, though occasionally a patient might be treated in the home of a physician. Temples dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine, did admit the sick where their treatment was based on the dreams they experienced whilst sleeping there overnight.

Hindus in Sri Lanka started building the first ever purpose built hospitals in the fifth century BC. Two hundred years later, King Asoka founded 18 hospitals in India, which were all supported from royal funds.

In ancient Egypt temples of the gods were also used for medical purposes. Physicians and surgeons received training in these places, whilst the sick and infirm could get treatment there.

The Romans had various different types of hospitals. In large households, special buildings existed for the relief of sick slaves. Another type called valetudinaria were for soldiers in permanent forts in newly conquered territories, where a set of rooms opening off a square courtyard operated as a hospital.

Valetudinaria were designed to cater for the sick rather than those seriously wounded in battle. There were no buildings devoted to the treatment of the sick among the population in general, who when ailing relied on other members of their family to care for them.

The 325 AD Council of Nicaea, the first church-wide attempt to resolve the great doctrinal controversies, ordered the construction of a hospital in every cathedral town.

Hospitals were built in the eastern Roman empire.. Basil, the bishop of Caesarea, was a monastic pioneer and he believed that monasteries should be outward looking. His own monastery was at the heart of the complex of hospitals and hospices he founded, largely out of his own pocket.

The first hospital in Europe for the benefit of the general population was founded by a Christian of noble birth, Fabiola in 382. After her conversion to Christianity, she devoted her wealth to the sick and poor of Rome. Fabiola sold many of her possessions to finance her hospital, which was originally her home and the sick and lame were brought off the streets to be cared for by her. Fabiola waited on the inmates herself and it was said she personally washed away the matter discharged from her patients' wounds which others couldn't bear to look at.

In medieval Europe the well to do were all treated at home. The poor that were sick were cared for in a hospital attached to the local poor house, monastery or convent.

By the late fourteenth century in England, there were just short of 500 hospitals, though most of them were very small housing around ten patients. Only London had hospitals of any significant size.

The color red was thought to be helpful to the sick in medieval times, so to bring down the fever, hospital patients were dressed in red night-gowns, wrapped in red blankets and forced to eat only red foods. As many red objects as possible surrounded them.

Hernando Cortés built a hospital in Mexico City in 1522. The Hospital of Jesus of Nazareth was the first hospital to be built in the Western Hemisphere. It was solely needed as the Spanish conqueror and his men had left epidemics of smallpox, measles and influenza.

The French established the first hospital in North America at Quebec City in 1639. It was called the Hôtel-Dieu du Précieux Sang,

By 1700 London had a population of over half a million people but it was still reaping the results of
Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. There were only two major hospitals for the sick, St Bartholomew's and St Thomas's and one for the mentally insane, Bedlam. Beyond the capital, the
situation was worse. Indeed there were no medical hospitals at all in other parts of England.

In other Western European countries, the situation was better at the turn of the eighteenth century and in many areas hospitals were being built and run from public funds in response to an increase in population.

In 1737, the Philanthropist, Thomas Coram, established a plan for a hospital to be built for the orphaned and abandoned children of London. Unfortunately this provoked much criticism from the press, as they believed it would encourage loose living. Eventually it was given a Royal Charter and in 1741 his Foundling Hospital opened at Holborn.

Many hospitals were founded in England in the first half of the 18th century including in London Guy's and St George's. They were funded through a combination of individual initiative and co-ordinated voluntary effort and subscription.

The first solely medical hospital in North America, the Pennsylvania General Hospital was established in Philadelphia in 1751. The Philadelphia Governor Benjamin Franklin used the columns of the Gazette to raise the necessary money and the resulting £2,000 from private subscription were matched by funds from the legislative body. Previously only poor houses provided any medical care to those Americans unable to afford their own physicians.

The world's first "Mercy" Hospital was founded in Pittsburgh by the Sisters of Mercy on January 1, 1847. The hospital they established was open to all regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, or religion. The name would go on to grace over 30 major hospitals throughout the world.

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, the first hospital in England to provide in-patient beds specifically for children was founded in London on February 14, 1852. The Hospital is known internationally for receiving from J. M. Barrie the copyright to Peter Pan in 1929, which has provided significant funding for the institution.

Bloomsbury: Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. By Nigel Cox, Wikipedia

A typical American hospital has three to four times more employees than patients.

The U.S. has one hospital bed for every 348 people in the country. Britain has one bed for every 386 people.

There is a Hello Kitty-themed hospital in Taiwan.

No comments:

Post a Comment