Having spent time reading the minutes of the Governors of the Haywood Charity Hospital, (see July 2008) I have have managed to produce some cyanotypes – blueprints which include with photographs, text from the minutes and words from the conversations of patients of the hospital.
The images are photographs taken in the Day Case Unit printed as cyanotypes, a photographic process which was discovered in the 1840s, it makes lovely soft images and somehow seems to emphasise the fragility of the patients. The text on the images includes both the written minutes from the 1880s and words spoken to me in conversation with patients at the Unit. I have mixed historic, nineteenth century, references with contemporary ones to investigate changes and constants in the way people have cared for each other in the Hospital. through time.
This project was aimed at looking at the past of the hospital in the context of the present; its move into a custom built Private Finance Initiative building.
This move of the Haywood Hospital in 2009 is its third move into custom built premises. The tale of the fist building is to be found in the Minutes of the meetings of the Governors of the Haywood Charity Hospital which are held in the County Archive at Stafford. The charity had been set up by two brothers who were persuaded by their doctor that a hospital in Burslem would be a good use of their intended bequest. The minutes are written in clear handwriting and though they seem a bit dry at first all sorts of interesting threads emerge as one reads.
The first meeting was in February 1881, a hospital was opened in July 1886. Having determined that the first thing to do is to take on two Town Nurses who could visit patients in their homes.
Text on image: 28th Sept. 1881
‘Mr Oldham reported that all the Medical Men of Burslem, except Mr Hales, met him on Monday afternoon last and agreed to a suggestion that one of the first objects of the Governors should be the obtaining of services of two trained Town Nurses, to whom the Medical Men of the town or the public can apply for assistance and nursing. They considered this the most crying want of the town, and one which will be of the greatest public utility. Mr Oldham also handed in particulars of several cases reported to him by the Medical Men as deserving of assistance’
The Governors rented a house Waterloo Road and engaged a housekeeper to look after it. But after this they are continually diverted buy the minutiae of organising everything.
Text on image: 8th Jan 1883. The Chairman reported his interview with the Housekeeper and Nurses and said he had obtained a promise from them that they would endeavour to live together in greater harmony in the future
Despite reminding themselves frequently about looking for a proper premises only when accused of ‘inchoateness’ (11 June 1883) do they start to get their act together.
Meanwhile the nurses are doing sterling work, two of them, on foot, manage to make 600 – 800 home visits a month.
Text on image: 11 June 1883 …that another Bath Chair be purchased – narrow enough to go through cottage doors.
The minute about purchasing a new ‘Bath Chair narrow enough to fit through cottage doors’ (11 June 1883) is a sad reminder of the poverty of the area at the time. They had bought a bath chair the previous year, but must have found its width a hindrance.
Awful working conditions, poor nutrition and poverty were the lot of most working people at the time; the nurses could provide first aid, food and respite but not much else, none of the drugs we take for granted were available then. Falling into the clutches of a Victorian doctor was not necessarily good news; Pasteur’s germ theory of disease was only 20 years old at this time. The minutes contain details of trader’s tenders for the supply of ‘fleshmeat’ which was used for making beef tea and such for patients and there are also minutes about issuing tickets for patients to get meals at the Borough Coffee Shop (12 March 1883). Patients could be sent to convalesce in healthy environments, such as Buxton (11 June 1883) and this is probably the reason for the suggestion that the Charity might like to build in Llandrindod Wells (11 July 1881).
The modern Day Case unit is a good contrast, highlighting how far medicine has come over 125 years or so. But talking to patients highlights how some important aspects of what the Haywood gives has not changed.
Text on image: 10 Decr. 1884. That the tender of Mir J.W. Knight, to supply fleshmeat to the 25th March at the following prices, be accepted, –
Gravy Beef 7d lb
Neck of mutton 9d lb
Legs do. 10 1/2d lb
Fleshmeat for the Home 10 1/4d lb all of the primest quality.
The tradition of nurturing and personal attention is alive and well: ‘This place is a five star hotel!’
‘They treat you as a person; cant do enough for you…’
‘They give you tea and coffee and even lunch – and its so nice!’
The treatments though are at the cutting edge of twenty first century medicine. Where once flannel undergarments (stamped with the charity’s name, 10 April 1882) were loaded out, now patients come in for infusions of biologically active drugs; humanised monoclonal antibodies. James and David, two most cheery people had had intractable rheumatoid arthritis which had resisted most treatments until they were put on a trial for a new monoclonal, now they were suggesting Roche might like to send them to Switzerland to show off how good the results were!
Text on image: 11 June 1883. A letter of thanks read from Mr Cooke who stated that his visit to Buxton had almost made a new man of him. signed by James Maddox, Chairman of the Meeting at which these Minutes were read and confirmed.
10 April 1882. That a suit of flannel underclothing stamped with the name of the Charity be obtained under the direction of the Nurses lent in the first place to —– Boulton, Sneyd St, Cobridge.
Text on image: Daily Telegraph June 16 2009
Drug hope for arthritis
As many as 250,000 rheumatoid arthritis sufferers could benefit from a drug that can halt the disease in its tracks Almost half the patients with early arthritis symptoms in a trial saw significant improvements in their condition after a year. The drug, MabThera (retuximab) stops the deterioration of the joints …
The article from the Telegraph is about an anti B-cell monoclonal being used rheumatoid arthritis, probably similar to the one in the trial James and David are on. I feel that the pessimism of the lady who’s hands I photographed may not be justified, and I hope this will turn out to be a more optimistic story in the end.