Attitude towards the sick
-During the early years of the institution the trustees refused applicants that required medical attention since the house didn’t have the means to separate the sick from the healthy.
-The rules stated that “All persons afflicted with contagious disorders or who require constant medical treatment” would be excluded from admission to the institution (Siena, 14).
-The trustees refused applicants requiring specific medical treatments. -Sick applicants seeking admission into the house were advised to go to the general hospital.
-The trustees feared that the house of industry would become an infirmary.
Health of inmates
-Even though the house resisted becoming an infirmary, most of the inmates were either of old age or in poor health
-For example in 1946, of the 19 adults in the house 2 were described as able-bodied and one of these was blind. the rest of the inmates were described as “crippled,” “infirm,” “unfit to work,” “lame,” missing limbs, “insane,” “ruptured and quite feeble,” “subject to fits,” and suffering a “bad asthmatic complaint.” (Siena, 15).
-The inmates also suffered from overcrowding and foul airs which lead to disease. -According to Dr. Ogden, the head medical officer, “the inmates have nearly all suffered from ophthalmia, several from erysipelas, several from a low typhoid form of fever” (City of Toronto Archives, House of Industry Fonds 1035, series 804, file 1)
-The house of industry also lacked a ‘sick ward’ for inmates suffering from diseases.
Role of Doctors
– In the 1840s the trustees of the house brought in a group of doctors who volunteered as the house’s medical officers.
-The primary objective of the doctors were to assess which applicants were granted admission to the house
-At times of financial strain the trustees sought the doctors recommendations on which inmates were to be discharged
-Doctors were assigned with coming up with ways to control communicable diseases
-even though Doctors provided rudimentary care to inmates, most of this care was administered by the superintends of the house. Since the doctors came to check up on the overall health of the house, the care they provided was more or less basic nursing.
Medicine and medical services at the house
-In relation to the number of inmates at the institution and the poverty exhibited by them, the medical services provided at the house was negligible.
-The amount of money spent on medicine was hardly ever more than 1/2 a percent of annual operating costs.
-In some cases inmates were taken to outside sources for medical services.
-The house basically supplemented the general hospital as it would take newly discharged patients from the hospital and send sick inmates from the house there.
-The medical officer reports were included in the annual report of the trustees and briefly outlined the overall health of the house. -The report mentioned the number of the deaths for the corresponding year and the age of the deceased -Dr. Uzziel Ogden was the medical officer for a prolonged time and it was him who wrote the reports.