Sanatoriums in the USA

The first ever sanatorium that was built in the United States of America was by a man called Edward Livingstone Trudeau in 1885, and was located in Saranac Lake in Adirondacks. Trudeau like many others who supported the sanatorium movement was inflicted with a disease called tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a disease caused by bacteria that attacks the lungs and may even effect other parts of the body.

In the 1870s, Trudeau went up to the mountains and believed that the healthy environment and fresh air cured him of his disease and its symptoms. He applied a similar strategy in the sanatorium he founded. He encouraged a healthy regime for the patients and required it to be located in a reclusive area so the air isn’t polluted and the scenes of nature help the healing process. He required residents to spend hours outside in the daylight, conducting activities such as horseback riding, walking and more. He also required his patients to take at least 3 large meals and 3 glasses of milk per day. He also prohibited habits such as smoking, drinking, cursing and even enforced a strict dress code. By the 1900s, Trudeau had collected enough money to build many small cottages near Saranac Lake which were part of the sanatorium including a library, church and center for research on tuberculosis. However, Trudeau died an ironic death. Even though he kept claiming that he was a model for cure from the illness, he died of tuberculosis in 1916.

There were various different reasons that can be seen in history why sanatoriums and other such institutions were needed by the people at that time. For example, to contain a disease and stop it from spreading to the public, a sanatorium was the best place. If people inflicted with a disease were kept together away from other people and their disease was researched, they could be cured without other people being affected. However, that did mean that experts had too much control and regulation over those who had contracted the disease, making it very hard for them to live their life according to their own means. Every aspect of their routine would be monitored. The sanatoriums suited both the goals of physicians and social reformers as they were able to isolate and contain disease as well as experiment and try to find a cure or slow the disease down.

However, in the end, sanatoriums really did not provide a comprehensive solution to the disease of tuberculosis. The biggest short coming was that not everyone with the disease was admitted as they were unable to pay for the extended visits or were too sick to get admitted. Many people with the disease even gave the state false information as they did not want to be separated from their families. This is why the disease wasn’t contained as well as it was hoped. 

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Wendy Saunders - Author

I am a romantic suspense author based in Hampshire in the UK

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