CHARITY HOSPITAL -- Common, between Howard and Locust.
In 1784 Don Andres de Almonaster y Roxas, the wealthiest citizen of Louisiana, contributed some $114,000 toward building a hospital, of which the city was then in great need. This first hospital founded by the munificence of that generous Spaniard was the father of the Charity Hospital of to-day. It was situated on Rampart street, between St. Peter and Toulouse, and was burned in 1809. It was then determined that the hospital to replace it should be erected beyond the city limits, and for this purpose the square of ground now bounded by Canal, Dryades, Baronne and Common streets, in what was then known as "the city commons," was purchased; and here, in 1815, the second Charity Hospital was erected. This building was purchased sixteen years later by the State of Louisiana for the University for $120.000. With the proceeds of this sale the present hospital on Common street, between Howard and Freret, was built. The State of Pennsylvania contributed some little aid to the hospital, but Louisiana bore very nearly the entire expense of building it. Among the contributors to the old hospitals, however those on Rampart and Baronne streets, mention should be made of Julien Poydras, once Mayor of this city, who donated the sum of $35,000; Etienne Boré, also Mayor, and R. Caune.
The present hospital, which was erected in 1832, covers the entire square bounded by Common, Gravier, Freret and Howard streets, one of the largest in the city, measuring 450 feet front on Common and Gravier, and 420 on the side streets, and containing about four and a half acres.
The hospital consisted originally of only one building, the main or central one. Although forty-seven years old. this building is as strong and substantial to-day as when first erected. The brick work is of extraordinary thickness, and even the walls between the different wards are of brick, and not the usual wood and plaster seen in modern buildings. From this central building the hospital has branched out in every direction. A wing was first added on the left, soon followed by another on the right; then came rooms on the Howard street side for the employees, kitchen, laundry, etc., the engineer's department on Gravier street, and finally the lying-in hospital at the corner of Gravier and Freret; and the Ambulance Building.
These various buildings form the four sides of a court, in the centre of which lies the hospital garden, under the especial care and management of a Sister of Charity. It contains probably an acre of ground, prettily laid out in walks bordered wath flowers, evergreen shrubs, etc.
Besides the inmates of the hospital, there are also a large number of persons who visit every day for treatment. These patients see the house surgeon, who examines into their condition. If he thinks their cases serious, he advises them to go into the hospital; if not, they stay at home and visit the hospital daily or weekly for treatment. The number of persons applying for treatment of this kind runs from thirty-five to forty daily. Taking these patients into account, the total number of sick persons cared for in the Charity Hospital since the war has not been less than 200,000 — nearly as many as the entire population of the city, and since the foundation of the hospital 400,000.
Every day is visiting day at the hospital, from eight a. m. to five p. m. To keep out impertinent, idle and morbidly curious persons, who would otherwise disturb the sick, a tariff of ten cents is charged all persons entering the building. In the case, however, of poor persons, whose relatives are sick, this charge is generally remitted.
In the Charity Hospital the medical students of the University of Louisiana have advantages offered them they can get nowhere else in the world. Here they can see and study nearly every known disease; here are exposed the maladies of tropical and semi-tropical regions, as well as those of the temperate zones. There are always some cases of leprosy there— a rare disease in America. Yellow fever cases are also to be studied, as well as all varieties of malarial fevers.
Dissections.— Another great advantage offered medical students by the hospital is in the bodies of patients dying there. These, unless claimed by friend or relatives, go to the college for dissecting purposes, so that there is never any lack of "subjects," as in most Western medical colleges. "Resurrecting" can never occur in New Orleans for the best of reasons- there is no need for grave robbing. These bodies average about three a day, and afford the students the best opportunity to perfect themselves in anatomy.
THE CHARITY HOSPITAL -Source 2.
The first hospital for indigent persons erected in the city of New Orleans, appears to have been built on the site formed by the west side of Rampart street, between Toulouse and St. Peter streets. It was blown down in 1779; and, being of wood, was entirely destroyed.
In 1784, Dr. N. Y. Roxas commenced one of brick on the same position, which he completed at an expense of $114,000 in 1786, and called it the New Charity Hospital of St. Charles. He endowed it with a perpetual revenue of $1500 per annum, by appropriating the rents of the stores at the corner of St. Peter and Levee streets. It continued under the patronage and direction of the family, until March 1811, when it was relinquished to the city by authority of the legislature, the edifice having been previously consumed by fire. It was now subjected to a council of administration, appointed by the governor and city council—(the first six, the latter three.) Since 1813 the council has been appointed by the governor and senate. It consists of eight members, and the governor. Its support has been derived from several sources. A most liberal legacy was left it by that public benefactor Julien Poydras, of real estate, valued at $35,000. Several smaller sums have been received from other benevolent individuals. It has also received aid from the state, directly and indirectly. Pennsylvania made a liberal grant of $10,000.
In 1812, the council of administration sold to the state the square now occupied by the state house, with the buildings, for $125,000, and purchased the present site, and built their large and commodious structure at the foot of Common street, at an expense of $150,000, containing sufficient room to accommodate four or five hundred patients. This is the building particularly referred to in the heading of this article. Besides being under the charge of the ablest of the medical faculty, the institution has the assistance of the Sisters of Charity, as nurses to the sick, who cannot be excelled in kindness and careful attention.
The edifice itself is very imposing, from its immense size. It is substantially built with brick. Suitable supplementary out-buildings for lunatics, and lying-in apartments, are on the same grounds; and the whole is encompassed by a permanent brick wall.
To show the great usefulness of this establishment, it is only necessary to state that, during 1844, there were five thousand eight hundred and forty-six patients admitted, seven hundred and thirteen of whom died, and five thousand and fifty-nine were dismissed. Of this number, only one thousand three hundred and sixteen were natives of the United States, and four thousand five hundred and thirty foreigners. This year the yellow fever was not epidemic.
"This discrepancy between the number of admittances, discharges, and deaths," say the editors, "arises from the fact that a good many cases of yellow fever occur, after the patients are admitted into the hospital for other diseases—and some remain to be treated for other diseases, long after having been cured of yellow fever; and, it may be, that some cases are not noted upon the hospital books at all." The proportion of deaths is accounted for by the exposed state of the patient before admission. In private practice they do not average one death to ten.
The absence of quarantine regulations in New Orleans, is often remarked by strangers. Acts of legislation have been passed at different times, establishing laws for the protection of the city, which proved of but little service, owing, it is generally admitted, to their not being carried out as it is now known they should have been to test their efficacy, consequently they soon fell into disuse.
Much able, and it would seem unanswerable argument has been employed, to prove that this scourge of tropical climates is not contagious; yet, Dr. Carpenter, an eminent and learned member of the medical profession of this city, with great research, has tracked it through all its secret channels of communication, by which at different periods it has been introduced.
The recent able essay of Dr. Hort, read before the Physico-Medical Society of this city, and the proceedings and resolutions of that body, had in reference to it, with equal conclusiveness show it to be endemic, or of local origin, and not an imported or contagious disease.
When such eminent "doctors disagree" what shall the unlearned and uninitiated do?—we are surely in a dilemma, and hardly know on which horn to hang our own humble judgment—but it would really appear that with a sanitary system, commending itself to the more cautious views of the Atlantic cities, an advantage would be gained, that would far more than balance any diminished trade of our neighbors in the Gulf. Are there not also, many hundreds of active, intelligent, business making citizens, who now fly to the North on the first approach of the sickly season, who, with such guards faithfully maintained about them, would remain through the summer? and are there not thousands more in various parts of the country, who, inspired with confidence by the existence and maintenance of a system of measures which they deem essential to the preservation of the health and lives of the citizens, would throng to our metropolis as the most inviting field of enterprise, and thus multiply our numbers and enlarge our business far more rapidly than it can, or will be done under the present system?
If in making these suggestions it should be supposed that we have "defined our position," we shall shelter ourselves under "the generally received opinion," "the prevailing fears of the community" —and the prudential measures of other cities.
THE CHARITY HOSPITAL OF LOUISIANA -Source 3.
By A. E. Fossier, A. M., M. D., Senior Visiting Physician Charity Hospital. Professor of Medical Diagnosis Graduate School of Medicine Tulane University
In New Orleans today there towers a great monument, not the masterpiece of some eminent sculptor, not a mass of stone perpetuating the name of some great warrior, prominent statesman or famed philanthropist, not the magnificent edifice recording a great epochal event or a renowned histroical achievement, but an istitution dedicated to the most supreme work of Charity, alleviation of suffering and healing of the sick, Charity Hospital of Louisiana founded by the sailorm, Jean Louis.
On the 21st day of January, 1736, Jean Louis, an inhabitant of Louisiana and resident of New Orleans, died that day at noon, leaving the following holographic will: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
"Nothing being more certain that death and nothing more uncertain than its hour, being stricken with a dangerous bodily malady, but sane of mind, I desire to settle my affairs, explaining how I intend that my lust will be carried out by my testamentary executor, who will be named hereafter, without anyone being able to contravene, being of age, having neither father nor mother, one having died in my chldhood and my mother thirteen years ago; besides what I possess I have hearned in this country irreproachably.
"As to what may come to me from France of any nature whatsoever, I set in order before leaving and willed it where I should. "I recommend my soul to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, to the Holy Virgin, to my angel guardian, to all the Saints of Paradise, particularly to my holy patrons, praying them to receive my soul amongst the Blessed when it shall pass from this world to the other, Amen.
"I give my soul to God, my body to the earth, asking my executor to have me buried simply. Before my funeral a high mass will be said, during which, it there are priests, others will be said. During one year, on every first Monday of the month, there will be a service for my intention in the parochial church and fifty low masses said.
"Item -- I beg those whom I have offended in any way whatsoever to be willing to forgive me as I forgive. I desire that my notes or debts, in any are found, will be acquited and paid preferably to anything else.
"I give to the parochial church for some some ornament or embellishment which my executor will be kind enough to have made, such as a large crucifix, or something else at his will, two hundred livres, to be used by him for the purpose according to the most pressing needs.
"Item -- I give the poor of this city who are ashamed to beg two hundred livres, and one hundred livres to procure clothes for the most needy orphans, at my executor's pieasure.
"My debts having been paid and the above provisions having been executed, a sale shall be made of all the remnants, which together with my small lot, I bequeath to serve in perpetuity to the founding of a hospital for the sick of the city of New Orleans, without anyone being being able to change my purpose, and to secure the things necessary to succor the sick.
"I will and direct that the said sale be made by my testamentary executor, whom I name as director and inspector of said foundation, during his life, and in case of his death or of his removal from the colony he will, at his choice, name a person to execute my wishes. "I beg the Cure of the parish to kindly work with my testamentary executor for the establishment of the said hospital and the execution of my will.
"This present will, written by my hand, in full possession of my faculties and judgement, revoking all wills and codicils that I may heretofore have made, the same to be null, willing and intending that this present be secuted according to its form and tenor, and this rather increased than diminished, referring it to my testamentary executor's good will, and to execute all that is herein contained I pray and name Monsieur Raguette, Councillor of The Superior Council of this province, to kindly take it in charge and act thereon as if it were his own, without being obliged to render any account to anyone whomsoever, nor shall any officer of justice take cognizance of it, trusting entirely in his probity and faithfulness. "At New Orleans, this sixteenth of November, one thousand seven hundred and thirty five.(Signed) "Jean Louis."
A site was chosen at the extremity of the town which, Miro stated, stood upon a portion of the ground allotted to the city's fortification and today corresponds to the square bounded by Rampart, Basin, St. Peter and Toulouse streets. The house of Madame Kolly (formerly a convent) was bought by Bienville and Salmon. Half of the money was expended for beds and the usual equipment. With the remaining 5,000 livres, augmented by the labor of the natives, a large brick hall was built.
"Before the notary royal of the province of Louisiana and the hereafter named and undersigned witnesses, personally appeared Sieur Joseph Villare Dubreuil, contractor for His Majesty's works, residing in New Orleans, who has acknowledged and admitted that he has voluntarily made an agreement with M. Raquet as director and administrator of the said hospital for the poor of the city, called the St John, founded by Jean Louis, deceased resident of the City of New Orleans, with the advice and concent of Rev. P. Phillippe, priest
and superior of the R. R. Capuchin Fathers of the province, Asst. Vicar of His Grace of Quebec, also present here, and to carry out the will of the said deceased Jean Louis, after deliberation made in the presence of M. de Salmon, on the twenty-ninth of March, one thousand seven hundred and thirty-six, deciding that there would be built, when M. Raguet pleases, a hall and buildings suitable to the accommodation of the poor, as the house in which they were lodged is too small. Wheretofore the said Sieur Du Breuil promises, obligates and binds himself by these presents to have built, constructed and erected on the site of the said hospital a hall measuring forty-five feet in length by twenty-five in breadth and fourteen in height, including the foundtions, the wold in walls of well-conditioned brick, subject to supervision conformably to plan and payment now made, which he promises to construct for the price and sum of two hundred livres per cubic fathom, full or empty, and the other requisites, such as lumber, planks, coverings, iron work and entire building at the same price as these are furnished to His Majesty in this country. The said work shall be begun as soon as possible, the sum of three thousand livres having been presently given and delivered to Sr. Du Breuil by Sr. Raquet in specie as payment on
account, for which this present serves as a receipt, it being agreed that payments will be made as the work progrresses, for security of
which the said Sr. Du Breuil has hypothecated all that he now possesses, also what may come to him hereafter, promising, renouncing, each in good faith. Done and passed in New Orleans, before noon, in the year one thousand seven hundred and thirty-six, on the tenth of June, in presence of Sieurs Augustin Chantalou and Laurent Roumier, who have previously signed as first witnesses and have signed with the said parties.
This, the original Charity Hospital, was named the St. John and mentioned in official legal records as "l'hopital des pauvres de la Charite."
In the interesting memoral, dated May 20, 1737, to the Minister in France, written by Bienville and Salmon, they tell that the hospital had five patients. And also from the following abstract from the same report, that this instituion served a dual purpose of hospital and asylum to the indigent poor.
"By this means there will be no more mendicants. They will all be interned there and put to some work suited to their abilities. This will even help to diminish their number for most of those who beg and who will be shut up here will prefer to work than to lose their liberty."
For over forty years this "Hopital des Pauvres" was a haven of hope for and administered to the suffering of those intrepid travelers and adventurous pioneers who, drawn by the lure of a promised El Dorado and the fallacious inducements held out by the wily John Law and pestilences of a primeval country and became stranded on our shores.
Miro tells use that the devastating hurricane which played havoc with the city in the summer of the year 1779 converted the Jean Louis Hospital into a heap of ruins, and that only the kitchen and the storehouse escaped the fury of the storm. The destruction of this institution resulted in so much consternation and suffering that in speaking of the calamity, Governor Don Estavan Miro says: "Many sick paupers are now wandering throughout the city in quest of shelter and succor and are hourly exposed to perish upon the very streets, or in same obscure by-corner."
Little did Jean Louis in his wildest flight of fancy ever dream that this village built on a low, insalubrious swamp, infested with mosquitoes, and subject to periodical inundations, would become a great city, a metropolis whose influence, commerce and culture would radiate to the remotest parts of the world; and that from his small bequest, a modest hospital, would have as its offspring this great institution, the pride of Louisiana, the Charity Hospital.
(The author is not responsible for phraseology of quotations, as they are taken verbatim from text. (as written)
Nothing today is known about the medical management of this hospital. Apparently the professional men played bu a small part in the life of that charitable institution. The names of the physicians and surgeons who administered to these diseased unfortunates during the forty years of the existence of the Hospice des Pauvres are lost to us. There is no record that has escaped the ravages of time and no historian has perpetuated the names of these altruistic workers in behalf of suffering humanity. In fact, Alcee Fortier in an annual address at the Commencement of the Medical Department, Tulane University, in the year 1905, said: "During the Spanish domination no mention is made of physicians in our history." This distinguished historian also in the same discourse laid special emphasis on the fact that "in 1737 the sailor, Jean Louis' Hospital had been established and was the beginning of our present noble Charity Hospital."
1762 - 1809
Don Andreas de Almonaster y Roxas, a pecumous old noble gentleman, who previously had been a war clerk and a civil notary, impelled by the suffering and destitution of the colonists, generously offered to rebuild the hospital at his own expense, and to appropriate a yearly sum for its support. He offered the magnificent amount of 114,000.00. Strange to say, such a liberal gift was conditioned on the using of the salvage material from the destroyed building. This peculiar restriction, so inconsistent with such generous endowment, only increased the astounding opposition to the acceptance of the gift by members of the Cabildo, and despite so much suffering and the dire necessity for such an institution, it provoked harsh, humiliating and unjust ridicule. Governor Miro, in defense of Don Almonaster sooke as follows: "Indeed, this provision of Bon Almonester cannot furnish much assistance to his costly undertaking", but why ali this astonishment at the disposal he has thought proper to make of this building material? And why should this worthy alms-giver be looked upon in so questionable a light? If, at the time when the building was still standing, some one would have offered to build an annex to it, would any objection have been made, had one of its walls looking on the improved side been utilized in the same construction? Be it what it may, I cannot view him in any other light than that of a fellow citizen bent an performing a charitable work: and a public benefactor worthy of the highest praise, so much the more as he comes forth, holding out a most lavish offering for the reconstruction of the hospital. It is not less surprising that you should have taken this matter in hand at the very time when unexpected assistance is being tendered from other quarters, and which might be withdrawn, were I to acquiesce in your pretentions to have this worthy gentleman appear before you, and beg your leave for the accomplishment of a work of public utility." It was not until the year 1782 that King Charles III of Spain gave his consent to the building of the hospital. In that same year, on the same site, ground, was broken for the new Hospital of St, Charles. In 1784 a commodious, substantial brick edifice rose from the ruins of the original hospital of Jean Louis.
The dedication ceremonies of the "Hopital Saint Charles" is best described in a letter addressed to the Baron de Carondelet by Don Almonaster dated January 17th. 1794: "In October of the year 1786, when the first Mass was said and the sick were received, I was put in possession of the patronage. In conformation to the cited laws, by a solemn act, in the presence of the most distinguished persons of the City, the Lord Governor Don Estaban Miro, your predecessor, and the vicar curate Ecclesiastical Judge Fray Antonio de Sedelia, the above said gentlemen, bestowed upon me in the name of the King the keys of the said Hospital which he transferred to me by the same act, so that its care frav be confided to my zeal and charity."
With the departure of Miro for Spain, Don Almonaster immediately felt the loss of his protector's friendship and admiration, for it was not shared by the newly appointed Governor Baron de Carondelet. He was soon unjustly deprived of all control in the affairs and management of the hospital he so richly endowed and to which he gave such liberal support. This apparent injustice and the abrogation of the rights and privileges of founder of the Hospital were vehemently contested by Don Almonaster. His attack on and his contest of this act of Carondelet was not only stubbornly fought in the highest court of the colony in Havana but taken to the King of Spain himself. These documents in the possession of the Louisiana Historical Society (hitherto unpublished) furnish a most interesting and illuminating page in the history of our Hospital.
Of special interest to the medical man is the following mandate of January 3, 1794, of Almonaster to Carondelet: "The conveyance of the Charity Hospital of Saint Charles last ordered by your Lordship to be made to me in your official letter dated the twenty-first of last month has not taken place and second because the authorities have not wished to admit as Physician and Surgeon of said Hospital. Don Louis Giovellina, whom I have appointed to that position in conformity with the order of his Royal Decree of the 23rd of April. Don Louis Giovellina has not entered into the use and exocise of his office, because he was preveneted from doing so by the present incumbent, Don Santiago Le Due, who claimed that he maintained that position because he was so ordered by you." Don Almonaster was deprived of the rights and privileges of founder of the Hospital from May 1792, to June 27, 1794. The following inventory illustrates vividly the progress made by our hospital in the past century.
This inventory of the hospital and its chapel was made on the twentiety of March of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four, and is set down in the following: Thirty-five small cypress bedsteads, fifty-one old moss matresses, thirty small linen pillows, twenty-three large cross-barred muslin mosquito bars, ten small mosquito bars made of linen, new sheets fifteen new linen covers for matresses, thirty-five white woolen blankets, three blankets made of cotton yarns, two large linen table cloths, six aprons for the servants, fifteen white and blue shirts for men, six damask table napkins, theree napkins with blue stripes, twenty-four India linen quilts (counterpanes), twenty-four cross-barred table napkins, forty-eight under vests of various colors, ten pairs of old long trousers of various colors, eleven coats of various colors, four cotton curtains, seven white and blue woolen cloaks, four skirts, five small coats and jackets for women, twenty-one pairs of long trousers of various colors, twelve tin platters, six old tin platters, forty new tin plates, twelve old plates, seven small tin dishes, forty-eight new tin spoons, eleven old tin spoons, forty-six new tin lanterns, twenty-three new tin revessels, four new tin urinals, ten small coffee pots to give drink to the sick, one old coffee pot, twenty-four earthenware plates, nineteen earthenware services (slop jars), two stoneware urinals with their handles, one large stoneware dish, one medium sized stoneware dish, ten new tin lanterns, twenty-one old tin lanterns, twelve new tin cuspidors, thirteen old tin cuspidors, one tin plate lantern with its handles, three copper portable furnaces or barziers for fire, twelve iron kettles of differnt sizes, one pair of irons for the fireplace, on shovel and a pair of iron tongs, one frying pan, some irons for the chimney, three large earthen jars, four small cypress tubs with iron hoops, three cypress buckets with their hoops, two cypress bath tubs, one large foot tub, four small copper saucepans of various sizes to make medicinal tee (Tisane), one copper bell, one pendulum clock, two iron shovels, two iron hatchets, two iron spades, one large cypress ladder to mount to the roof, one small ladder, one iron rack with various hooks to hand meat, twelve empty bottles, two plated silver covered dishes, one tin plate funnel, one large tinsel and tin plate street lamp, one copper lamp, five small jars of honey, five demijohns, one full of lemon (lime) juice, one barrel of salt, two hundred and sixty boards for coffins, one thousand small pieces of boards for coffins.
Slaves: One negro carpenter named Pedro, aged fifty-five years; one negro carpenter named Joseph, thirty-five years, another named Phiiup, sixty years old, one little negro boy named Andres, of fourteen years: another little negro boy named Francisco, of two and a half years; one negro girl named Maria, aged eleven; five lots of ground situated in the city.
"Senior Treasurer, Don Gilberto Leonard, stating that there were no other utensils belonging to the said Charity Hospital to inventory this legal proceeding is completed.
This inventory reveals many interesting facts and gives a glimpse of the management of the Hospital. Of special interest to us today is the Chapel. It appears that a large amount of the endowment was expended in its lavish furnishings, which was in striking contrast to the scant equipment for the use of the sick.
Drugs are not listed in the inventory. Remedies must have been procured from the apothecaries. (There were five drug stores at that time.). The author has been unable to ascertain whether the medicines were furnished at the expense Of the Hospital or were procured by the patients themselves.
This inventory makes no mention of any surgical instrument nor of any implement that could be useful in surgery. Without doubt surgery must have bee practiced in that institution. Operations undouhtedly were performed on patients in their beds, with the instruments belonging to the attending surgeon. The crudeness of technic, the lack of facilities, the absence of anesthesia and the ignorance of asepsis attest a high surgical mortality.
In 1796 New Orleans had 9756 inhabitants. The St. Charles was a twenty-four bed bed Hospital. Its size and capacity in relation to the then population was of more favorable comparison than the hospital of the present day. A concept of the good accomplished, the charity performed, the suffering alleviated, and the number of sick cared for by that institution, can only be had by referring to the vital statistics and the few remaining documents of the time.
The extreme suffering, exposure and the frequent pestilences to which these colonists were continually subjected, and from which only the hardiest could escape, confirmed the extremely high death rate then current. The total mortality in New Orleans in 1796 was 638, one death to every 13.57 inhabitants, making a ratio of 72,86 per 1,000 population.
The Hospital was adjacent to the rear end of a cemetery (abolished in the early eighteen hundreds). but then situated in the square bounded by Burgundy. Rampart, Toulouse and St. Peter Streets. Fray Antonio de Sedella, in his petition dated the 9th day of April. 1801, for the removal of the burial ground beyond the city limits gives a most interesting description of the unsanitary condition of the city of that day. He wrote. "The cemetery of this city is situated in the center of the last block, which I have thought a long time since prejudicial to the public health, and which was really shown this year; everybody having been sick in the colony with putrid and deadly fevers, and especially with Dysentery, so that a large number of people died." He also stated that: The deleterious effects of this cemetery have been vividly felt this year. Whilst passing near I myself have noticed a fetid smell, I sought information from the neighbors and they affirm that these foul odors have been very often present this year." His gruesome description of the crowded condition of the burial ground also records the extremely high mortality of that period, as follows: "The number of corpses buried there being already so large that there was no more space to bury the dead. On opening new graves underground, bodies were found which caused the emission of foul smells, destructive to the health of the City, and more especially after the epidemic which the people suffered that summer and from which they still were suffering."
This petition of that Capuchin monk, curé of the Cathedral, to have the cemetery removed from the city boundaries to the outskirts of the town, resulted in the choice of the site of the present Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, now on Basin Street and Saint Louis. The document was accompanied by a street plan, illustrating the position of the old burial ground, and pointing to that of the Charity Hospital, which is shown in that and other plans to have been located in the square now bounded by the streets, Rampart, Basin, Toulouse and Saint Peter, which was also the original site of the Jean Louis Hospice des Pauvres.
In a contemporary directory is chronicled that destitute poor alone were admitted. Precautions were taken against those abuses that creep in but too frequently today. But as there were no pay institutions to care for those not in need of Charity, their admittance was allowed on a fee basis. The following is taken from the "Annuaire Louisiana's Pour L'Annee 1809 par B. Lafon": "The old hospital was founded by the French, and was entirely destroyed by the storm of 1779, Don Almonaster y Roxas, Colonel of Militia of that Town, Royal Alfares, Perpetual Regidor and Knight of Saint Charles, founded, the one which exists today, in the year 1786. It was entirely constructed at his own expense, he furnished it with necessary implements necessary to help and alleviated the sick, and gave to it five skilled slaves, and transferred ail the rentals of shops at the corner of Saint Peter and Levee. He also repaired at his own expense five small houses, the property of the former hospital." Also: "The dotation was of twenty-four beds, for the use of the sick who are neither incurable or leprous and they must no only be destitute but recognized as such. If other patients who cannot be classified, as poor wish to be treated, they are forced to pay a certain awount so that they will not abuse of these charitable funds." To which is attached the name of Blanquet, Physician, and Juan Ximens, Administrator.
From its foundation the hospital had derived a portion of its income from the legacies of devout and charitable persons. From the earliest time it has been a pious custom in France to mention the hospital in one's will. There are scores of testaments extant in which a legacy is inscribed to the church for the repose of the legator's soul and the Charity Hospital.
It seems that Don Almonaster inaugurated the position of House Surgeon. During the existence of the Saint Carlos Hospital, Doctors LeDux, Giovellina, Blanquet and Sanchez acted in the capacity. In the court records of 1783 is mentioned Doctor Robert Dow of the Charity Hospital and Doctor Joseph Montegut, Surgeon General of the Hospital. Unfortunatly, it is impossible to trace the true significance of the Hospitla connection to these physicians, because in 1779 the Jean Louis Hospital was destroyed and it was not replaced by a new hospital (the St. Charles) until 1786. Presumably these doctors held their respective positions in the Jean Louis Hospital or in the Military Hospital in Hospital Street existing at that time.
The San Carlos and many public buildings were reduced to ashes by the great conflagration which swept the city on the memorable night of the 23rd of September of the year 1809.
Don Alonaster, the richest man in the colony, was an astute business man, and was not only a notary in law but a contractor as well. His love of pomp and honors was an incentive to his philanthropy and, although highly honored by the grateful monarch, locally his munificience redounded only to his grief and discomfort, by reason of the unmerited jealousy, criticisms and the ingratitude of the members of the Cabildo and the Colonists. The astounding animosity to one who had contributed so much no only to the charity of, but to the upbuilding of his city, can only be attributed to their resentment of the proud, unbending and ostentatious phase of his personality. In a letter written to Don Estevan Miro, Ex-Governor of Louisiana, by Don Joseph Xavier de Pontalba, dated April 26, 1792, is found the following character sketch of that city builder: "We spent Thursday in town and dined with Almonater. He regrets your departure from the depth of his heart. He frankly avowed that he would find no one to rejoice as you do in the good fortune of others. He is entirely disgusted with being benevolent. To give was a joy during your reign, because you knew how to appreciate it, but is is now his inention to be selfish. He has abandoned the building of the church (the Cathedral) and has not laid a brick on it since your departure. Also referring to the patronage of the Hospital, contested by the Baron de Carondelet, the Governor of Louisiana, we find the same letter: "If force is brought to bear to compel him to turn it (the hospital endowment) over, he will give in under protest, and then announce that he refuses to continue the building of the church. You see that it is not easy to bend this man. He states that he regrets this trouble trouble because the Baron (de Carondelet) is an excellent man, and that he is well aware that disagreements he has to contend with are inspired by evil agitators. He is inconsolably awaiting the outcome, and is being tormented in his old age."
Don Almonaster died on the 26th of April, 1798, and was intered in the St. Louis Cathedral.
The honors, achievement, charities and philanthropies of this remarkable personage are best chronicled by transcribing the inscription to his memory on the marble slab, covering the vault wherein he reposes:
Here lies the Remains
Full content, Visit: — The Charity Hospital of Louisiana.
79 p. illus. 25 cm.; Chapter I. 1736-1781 -- Chapter II. 1782-1809 -- Chapter III. 1810-1832 -- Chapter IV. 1833-1849 -- Chapter V. 1850-1863 -- Chapter VI. 1864-1881 -- Chapter VIII. 1895-1922 -- Comparative statement of currnet revenues for years ending Dec. 31st, 1922 General fund receipts...[p.50-51] -- Chapter IX. Conclusion -- Appendix. A new hospital contemplated (extract from Vice President F.W. Evans' report, Dec.31st, 1923) [p.57] -- Table of admissions, discharges and deaths for eighty-five years [p.59] -- Marble tables in main hall of hospital -- Board of administrators [1811...1921-22] -- House surgeons [1792...1918-1920] -- Superintendents -- Visiting staff, Department of Medicine -- Visiting neurologists -- Visiting staff, Department of Surgery -- Visiting oculists, Department of Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat -- Visiting rhinologists and laryngologists -- Department of Skin -- Department of Pediatrics -- Department of Genito Urinary Diseases -- Department of Othropedics, Surgical Diseases of children -- Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics -- Department of Gynecology -- Department of Obstetrics -- Pathologists -- Consulting surgeons -- Consulting physicians -- Visiting dentists --Reprinted from the New Orleans Medical and Surgical journal for May, to Oct. 1923.
Tulane author: A.E. Fossier, Senior Visiting Physician Charity Hospital. Professor of Medical Diagnosis Graduate School of Medicine Tulane University.
Digitized by the staff of Rudolph Matas Library of the Health Sciences, Tulane University.
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