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Download In sickness and in wealth : American hospitals in the by Rosemary Stevens PDF

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By Rosemary Stevens

American hospitals are exact: a mixture of private and non-private associations which are right away charities and companies, social welfare associations and icons of U.S. technology, wealth, and technical fulfillment. In disorder and in Wealth is helping us comprehend this massive and infrequently contradictory "industry" and indicates that all through this century the voluntary not-for-profit hospitals were profit-maximizing organizations, although they've got seen themselves as charities serving the neighborhood. even if our hospitals have supplied the main complex remedy for acutely in poor health and curable sufferers, they've been less winning in assembly the desires of the chronically sick and the socially deprived. That, Stevens concludes, is the following pressing job of social policy.

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Extra resources for In sickness and in wealth : American hospitals in the twentieth century

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57 The idea of the hospital as a medical hotel was intriguing—for the hospital would return to its ancient role of hospitality—although it was scarcely practical to think of such facilities for everyone in a society committed to service for a fee. But in any event, hospital trustees were committed to the idea of hospitals not as business propositions but as charities, an important part of the life of organized community benevolence that distinguished the American town or city. Board members valued their role on the boards because it made them instant humanitarians, not so that they could duplicate their jobs in business.

The best hospitals were models of cleanliness, efficiency, and expertise. Where only twenty or thirty years before there had been noise, dirt, and disarray, there was now control and organization: the rustle of the nurse's uniform, the bell of the telegraph, the rattle of the hydraulic elevator, the hiss of steam, the murmured ritual of the operating room. Digitalis, quinine, and mercury gave promise of relief to patients, while morphine, opium, cocaine, and sulfonal reduced the noisy manifestations of pain.

They still are, to some extent, although "patient dumping" from voluntary hospitals to governmental hospitals is now regarded as unacceptable. There were seventy-eight city and county general hospitals in 1910, some in the almshouse tradition, some attracting patients across a broader social spectrum. 25 Local government control did not, however, inevitably mean restriction to the poor. Here the theme of heterogeneity must be stressed. In isolated rural towns hospitals set up under local government auspices served much the same functions as religious and private charitable hospitals in other areas, drawing a substantial proportion of paying patients; and they have continued to do so throughout the century.

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