Daily Archives: February 20, 2008

Item of the Day: Observations on the Construction of Hospitals (1793)

Full Title: Observations on the construction of Hospitals, by Mr. Le Roy, Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences — (Extracted from an Essay on the Subject, which, with several elegant plans, was transmitted by the author to the Society, but could not be inserted entire, as it contained many remarks of a local nature, respecting Paris —only.

 Found In: Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, held at Philadelphia, for promoting Useful Knowledge. Vol. III> Philadelphia: Printed and sold by Robert Aitken & Son, No. 22, Market Street, M.DCC.XCIII. [1793]

 [pp. 348-350]

THE construction of Hospitals is in general objectionable, either because many of the wards do not admit of perfect ventilation, or because the air passes from one patient over another, by which means contagious diseases are often spread.

To avoid these inconveniences, a large Hospital should consist of distinct and separate buildings, each forming one ward, erected upon arches or columns, at a considerable height from the ground, and ranged at a distance from each other, like the tents of an encampment.

The cieling [sic] or roof of each ward should be formed into a number of spherical arches according to  its size, the crown of each arch being in the middle of the breadth of the ward, and opening into a funnel like a common chimney, which should be supplied with a vane, (resembling that we call a cow) so that it may always open to leeward.

In each floor, midway as to breadth, should be a row of holes at suitable distances from each other, to admit air from below, so constructed that the quantitiy of it may be regulated at pleasure.

In consequence of this structure there must be a constant change of air, for that which is in the lower part of the ward, being warmed by the patients and nurses, and the necessary fires, will ascend, and in consequence of the spherical construction of the roof, will be directed to the openings in it, and flow through them, while the holes in the floor will afford a constant supply of fresh air, which will move rapidly as it enters the from so low.

A number of arches with openings is preferable to a single arch in the center, because the air is passing from the extremeities of the room to the center flows, from one patient over another–and a plan or flat cieling [sic], even with apertures, is improper, because the upper air at a distance from the apertures cannot move to them.

The rooms may be warmed by placing grates or stoves over these holes in the floor, and no bad effect can be produced by t he fire as the air and vapours will ascend from it and go off by the holes in the cieling — If it be necessary to quicken the circulation of air, either on account of the sluggishness of the atmosphere, or of the contagious nature of any diseases in the ward, small fires may be fixed ingrates or stoves near the openings in the cieling, to increase the motion of the air.

To prevent the spreading of contagion, as well as to keep the sick from beholding the sufferings of each other, a screenof suitable height should be placed between each bed.

For contagious disorders and surgical cases, there should be a number of wards, at a distance from the Hospital, and to leeward of it with respect to prevailing winds. . . .


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Filed under 1790's, Culture, Early Republic, Health, Medicine, Posted by Caroline Fuchs