Special Report

What a Hospital Looked Like 100 Years Ago

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16. More public hospitals

There was a surge of public hospital funding and construction in the early part of the 20th century. Census data from that time indicates greater awareness for the need for public support for hospitals.

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17. Centers of nursing

While there were still no nurse practitioners 100 years ago, nurses were becoming more critical to the operation of hospitals 100 years ago, and hospitals became centers for nursing education.

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18. Public viewed operations

Surgeries could be viewed by the public in the 19th and early 20th centuries in open-air operating theaters, with nothing separating the public and the surgeons.

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19. Multi-bed wards in use

The perception of hospitals as unsanitary places for the destitute was changing in the early 20th century. However, hospitals still had multi-bed wards. Hospital officials made various attempts to improve the ward configuration and included so-called quiet rooms. Hospitals were beginning to address the need for private rooms in public hospitals to separate those with infectious diseases.

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20. Blood manually pumped out

If a surgeon wanted to get a blood-free view of the body part where he was going to operate (nearly all surgeons were male at the time), a member of the operating group used a hand-cranked pump to suck the blood out. Today, an electrically powered vacuum performs the task.