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One of the remaining turrets of the Grunwald Sanatorium (now Sokolowsko, Poland) SanatoriumGrunwald Sokolowsko.jpg
One of the remaining turrets of the Grunwald Sanatorium (now Sokołowsko, Poland)
A 1978 Finnish postage stamp depicting the 1933 Paimio tuberculosis sanatorium designed by Alvar Aalto Paimio-Hospital-1978.jpg
A 1978 Finnish postage stamp depicting the 1933 Paimio tuberculosis sanatorium designed by Alvar Aalto

A sanatorium (also spelled sanitarium or sanitorium) is a medical facility for long-term illness, most typically associated with the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century before the discovery of antibiotics. A distinction is sometimes made between "sanitarium" or the east-European "sanatorium" (a kind of health resort, as in the Battle Creek Sanitarium) and "sanatorium" (a hospital). [1] [2]




The first suggestion of sanatoria in the modern sense was likely made by George Bodington, who opened a sanatorium in Sutton Coldfield in 1836 and later published his essay "On the Treatment and Cure of Pulmonary Consumption" [3] in 1840. His novel approach was dismissed as "very crude ideas and unsupported assertions" by reviewers in the Lancet , [4] and his sanatorium was converted to an asylum soon after. The rationale for sanatoria in the pre-antibiotic era was that a regimen of rest and good nutrition offered the best chance that the sufferer's immune system would "wall off" pockets of pulmonary TB infection. [5] In 1863, Hermann Brehmer opened the Brehmersche Heilanstalt für Lungenkranke in Görbersdorf (Sokołowsko), Silesia (now Poland), for the treatment of tuberculosis. Patients were exposed to plentiful amounts of high altitude, fresh air, and good nutrition. [6] Tuberculosis sanatoria became common throughout Europe from the late-19th century onward.

Early establishments

The Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium, established in Saranac Lake, New York, in 1885, was the first such establishment in North America. According to the Saskatchewan Lung Association, when the National Anti-Tuberculosis Association (Canada) was founded in 1904, its members, including renowned pioneer in the fight against tuberculosis Dr. R.G. Ferguson, believed that a distinction should be made between the health resorts with which people were familiar and the new tuberculosis treatment hospitals: "So they decided to use a new word which instead of being derived from the Latin noun sanitas, meaning health, would emphasize the need for scientific healing or treatment. Accordingly, they took the Latin verb root sano, meaning to heal, and adopted the new word sanatorium." [1]

Switzerland used to have many sanatoria, as health professionals believed that clean, cold mountain air was the best treatment for lung diseases. In Finland, a series of tuberculosis sanatoria were built throughout the country in isolated forest areas during the early 1900s. The most famous was the Paimio Sanatorium, completed in 1933, designed by world-renowned architect Alvar Aalto. It had both sun-balconies and a rooftop terrace where the patients would lie all day either in beds or on specially designed chairs, the Paimio Chair. [7] In Portugal, the Heliantia Sanatorium in Valadares was used for the treatment of bone tuberculosis between the 1930s and 1960s.

In 20th-century United States

In the early 20th century, tuberculosis sanatoria became common in the United States.[ citation needed ] The first of several in Asheville, North Carolina was established by Dr. Horatio Page Gatchell in 1871, before the cause of tuberculosis (then called "phthisis" or "consumption") was even known. Fifty years earlier, Dr. J.F.E. Hardy had reportedly been cured in the "healing climate". Medical experts reported that at 2,200 feet above sea level, air pressure was equal to that in blood vessels, and activities, scenery and lack of stress also helped. [8] In the early 1900s, Arizona's sunshine and dry desert air attracted many people (called "lungers") suffering from tuberculosis, rheumatism, asthma, and numerous other diseases. Wealthier people chose to recuperate in exclusive TB resorts, while others used their savings to make the journey to Arizona and arrived penniless. TB camps in the desert were formed by pitching tents and building cabins. During the tuberculosis epidemic, cities in Arizona advertised the state as an ideal place for treatment of TB. Many sanatoria in the state of Arizona were modeled after European away-from-city resorts of the time, boasting courtyards and individual rooms. Each sanatorium was equipped to take care of about 120 people.

The first sanatorium in the Pacific Northwest opened in Milwaukie Heights, Oregon in 1905, followed closely by the first state-owned TB hospital in Salem, Oregon, in 1910. Oregon was the first state on the West Coast to enact legislation stating that the government was to supply proper housing for people with TB who are unable to receive proper care at home. [9] The West Coast became a popular spot for sanatoriums.

The greatest area for sanatoria was in Tucson with over 12[ quantify ] hotel-style facilities in the city. By 1920, Tucson had 7,000 people who had come for treatment of tuberculosis. So many people came to the West that not enough housing was available for them all. In 1910, tent cities began to pop up in different areas; one was described as a place of squalor and shunned by most citizens. Many of the infected slept in the open desert. The area adjacent to what was then central Phoenix, called Sunnyslope, was home to another large TB encampment, with the residents primarily living in tents pitched along the hillsides of the mountains that rise to the north of the city. Several sanatoria also opened in southern California in the early part of the 20th century due to the dry, warm climate. [10]

The first tuberculosis sanatorium for blacks in the segregated South was the Piedmont Sanatorium in Burkeville, Virginia. [11] Waverly Hills Sanatorium, a Louisville, Kentucky, tuberculosis sanatorium, was founded in 1911. It has become a mecca for curiosity seekers who believe it is haunted. [12] Because of its dry climate, Colorado Springs was home to several sanatoria. A. G. Holley Hospital in Lantana, Florida, was the last remaining freestanding tuberculosis sanatorium in the United States until it closed on July 2, 2012. [13]

In 1907, Stannington Sanatorium was open in the North East of England to treat tuberculosis in children. The sanatorium was opened using funds raised by a local charity, the Poor Children's Holiday Association, now the region's oldest children's charity, Children North East. [14] The largest U.S. tuberculosis sanatorium was located on the site of Chicago's present day North Park Village. Chicago's Peterson Park fieldhouse housed the lab and morgue of Chicago's Municipal Tuberculosis Sanatorium. [15]

Discovery of antibiotics and decline

After 1943, when Albert Schatz, then a graduate student at Rutgers University, discovered streptomycin, an antibiotic and the first cure for tuberculosis, sanatoria began to close. As in the case of the Paimio Sanatorium, many were transformed into general hospitals. By the 1950s, tuberculosis was no longer a major public health threat; it was controlled by antibiotics rather than extended rest. Most sanatoria had been demolished years before.

Some, however, have been adapted for new medical roles. The Tambaram Sanatorium in south India is now a hospital for AIDS patients. [16] The state hospital in Sanatorium, Mississippi, is now a regional center for programs for treatment and occupational therapy associated with intellectual disability. In Japan in 2001, the ministry of welfare suggested changing the names of a leprosarium to a sanatorium.[ citation needed ]

In culture

See also

Related Research Articles

Christmas seal Labels (not stamps) placed on mail during Christmas.

Christmas seals are labels placed on mail during the Christmas season to raise funds and awareness for charitable programs. They have become particularly associated with lung diseases such as tuberculosis, and with child welfare. Christmas seals are regarded as a form of cinderella stamp in contrast with Christmas stamps used for postage.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium U.S. NRHP hospital

The Waverly Hills Sanatorium is a former sanatorium located in southwestern Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky.

Sanitarium is an alternative spelling of sanatorium. It may refer to:

Paimio Sanatorium

Paimio Sanatorium is a former tuberculosis sanatorium in Paimio, Southwest Finland, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Aalto received the design commission having won the architectural competition for the project held in 1929. The building was completed in 1933, and soon after received critical acclaim both in Finland and abroad. The building served exclusively as a tuberculosis sanatorium until the early 1960s, when it was converted into a general hospital. Today the building is owned by Turku University Hospital but is not functioning as a hospital; rather, the building has functioned as private rehabilitation center for children since 2014. The sanatorium has been nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The SDS Tuberculosis and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest diseases is a government run institute affiliated with Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute specializing in treating tuberculosis and other chest diseases. The sanatorium is housed on a sprawling campus near Hosur road in Bangalore.

Sanatorium Purkersdorf

The Sanatorium Purkersdorf was built as a sanatorium in Purkersdorf, Wien-Umgebung, Lower Austria. It was built in 1904-05 by the architect Josef Hoffmann for the industrialist Victor Zuckerkandl and is an example of the style of the Viennese Secession in architecture.

Trudeau Institute

The Trudeau Institute is an independent, not-for-profit, biomedical research center located on a 42 acres (170,000 m2) campus in Saranac Lake, New York. Its scientific mission is to make breakthrough discoveries that lead to improved human health.

Cure Cottages of Saranac Lake historic tuberculosis treatment centers in New York

Between 1873 and 1945, Saranac Lake, New York became a world-renowned center for the treatment of tuberculosis, using a treatment that involved exposing patients to as much fresh air as possible under conditions of complete bed-rest. In the process, a specific building type, the "Cure Cottage", developed, built by residents seeking to capitalize on the town's fame, by physicians, and often by the patients themselves. Many of these structures are extant, and their historic value has been recognized by listing on The National Register of Historic Places.

Hermann Brehmer

Hermann Brehmer was a German physician who established the first German sanatorium for the systematic open-air treatment of tuberculosis.

Madonna Mary Swan-Abdalla was a Lakota woman. Born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, Madonna Swan prevailed over extreme difficulties including the Native American tuberculosis epidemic of the 20th century to lead a fulfilled life. She overcame the terrible conditions of socio-economic deprivation, restricted education, poor health care, and confinement to the Indian tuberculosis sanatorium and the reservation, to attend college, become a Head Start teacher, marry, raise a child, and be named Native American Woman of the Year. Madonna Swan become an inspiration to both Indian and non-Indian women.

Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium United States historic place

The Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium was a tuberculosis sanatorium established in Saranac Lake, New York in 1885 by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau. After Trudeau's death in 1915, the institution's name was changed to the Trudeau Sanatorium, following changes in conventional usage. It was listed under the latter name on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

R. G. Ferguson

Robert George Ferguson, OBE, was a pioneer in North America's fight against tuberculosis (TB) and the introduction of free treatment.

The Indian hospitals were racially segregated hospitals, originally serving as tuberculosis sanatoria but later operating as general hospitals, for indigenous peoples in Canada which operated from the late 19th to the late 20th century. The hospitals were used to isolate Indigenous tuberculosis patients from the general population, because of a fear among health officials that "Indian TB" posed a danger to the non-Aboriginal population. Many of these hospitals were located on Indian reserves, and might also be called reserve hospitals, while others were in nearby cities.

Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine, popularly known as the Tambaram TB Sanatorium, is a major state-owned hospital situated in Chennai, India. The hospital is funded and managed by the state government of Tamil Nadu. It was founded in 1928.

The town of Colorado Springs, Colorado played an important role in the history of tuberculosis in the era before antituberculosis drugs. Tuberculosis management before this era was difficult and often of limited effect. In the 19th century, a movement for tuberculosis treatment in hospital-like facilities called sanatoriums became prominent, especially in Europe and North America. Thus people sought tuberculosis treatment in Colorado Springs because of its dry climate and fresh mountain air. Some people stayed in boarding houses, while others sought the hospital-like facilities of sanatoriums. In the 1880s and 1890s, it is estimated that one-third of the people living in Colorado Springs had tuberculosis. The number of sanatoriums and hospitals increased into the twentieth century. During World War II, medicines were developed that successfully treated tuberculosis and by the late 1940s specialized tuberculosis treatment facilities were no longer needed.

Ethan Allen School for Boys United States historic place

Ethan Allen School for Boys was a reform school in Delafield, Wisconsin which operated in a former tuberculosis sanitorium from April 1959 until June 2011, when it was abolished and the inmates moved to Lincoln Hills School in Irma. It was operated by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

Stannington Sanatorium Hospital in England

Stannington Sanatorium was the first purpose-built children's tuberculosis sanatorium in the UK which officially opened on 5 October 1907 near to the village of Stannington, Northumberland. The institution was established by a local charity, The Poor Children's Holiday Association (PCHA), which developed into the modern-day charity Children North East, and also took contributions from local Poor Law Guardians for the upkeep of patients.

Firland Sanatorium Hospital in Washington, United States

The Firland Sanatorium was Seattle's municipal tuberculosis treatment center. It opened on May 2, 1911, and closed on October 30, 1973.

Lake View Sanatorium United States historic place

Lake View Sanatorium is a former tuberculosis sanitorium at 1204 Northport Drive in Madison, Wisconsin. Before the introduction of antibiotics, sanatoria were used to isolate tuberculosis patients from the general public and provide them with a supportive environment in which to recover. The state of Wisconsin had a state sanatorium supplemented by a series of county and private sanatoria; as Dane County had a large private sanatorium, it lagged behind other counties in opening a public one, but the financial benefits of operating its own sanatorium convinced the county to build Lake View Sanatorium in 1929–30. The sanatorium was designed by local architects Law, Law, & Potter with the assistance of E.A. Stubenrauch, a Milwaukee architect with experience designing sanatoriums; while the building is mainly functional, it features some Art Deco elements. The building's facilities included 125 beds for patients, an operating room, facilities for outpatient care, and a large porch; as fresh air was considered the best treatment for tuberculosis at the time, patients generally spent their days and even many nights on the porch. As antibiotics made sanatoria increasingly obsolete from the 1940s onward, use of the facility declined until it closed in the 1960s; the building is now used by the Dane County Department of Human Services.


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Further reading