Pandemic of Past and Present

Canada is no stranger to the threat of large infectious disease outbreaks. Throughout history, people on the land we now call Canada experienced numerous diseases that threatened their ways of life. Cholera, Tuberculosis, 1918 Influenza, Polio, Scarlet Fever, Yellow Fever, Diphtheria, SARS, MERS – to name a few. The way we manage COVID-19 is largely based on what we have done in the past. While our strategies may have evolved and our personal protective equipment may be more effective than other PPE used in the past, there are some things that remain common factors in preventing the spread of disease. Just like the Influenza of 1918, we rely largely on warning signs, mask wearing, and quarantines during COVID-19 to stay safe. … More Pandemic of Past and Present

The Face Mask – A Life-Saving Device Pioneered by Dr. Wu Lien-teh

The history of the masks that we wear have their roots in a few different areas, including both from the medical community, as well as from the Personal Protective Equipment of firefighters and soldiers in the late 19th and early 20th century. The first surgical mask came in 1899 when Carl Flügge (1847-1923) was working on tuberculosis research when he developed his droplet theory of infection. This theory proved that microorganisms can be expelled as droplets from the respiratory tract and reach another person. Flügge, his pupils, and successors conducted further experiments to determine that droplets are especially expelled during activities of talking, coughing, blowing, and sneezing. … More The Face Mask – A Life-Saving Device Pioneered by Dr. Wu Lien-teh

The Plague Doctor, Popular Culture, and COVID-19

At the time when doctors believed that miasmic fumes were responsible for the transfer illnesses, rather than germ theory, medical professionals developed elaborate outfits to protect against the believed noxious air. The bubonic plague ravaged across Europe and Asia through the 14th to 17th centuries, with the prevailing theory was that it was caused by the miasmic theory of “malignant air”. In reality, the bubonic plague was actually spread when infected fleas from small animals entered into the human system by a flea bite. “The Plague Doctor” uniform was quite useless in assisting to protect against the disease, which killed an estimated 200 million people worldwide. But in many ways, the protective uniform worn by these doctors seems similar to what current medical professionals wear when treating those with infectious diseases. … More The Plague Doctor, Popular Culture, and COVID-19

Discovering Diseases: The Beginnings of Germ Theory and Preventative Precautions

“Germ theory was not easily accepted. All across Europe and into the USA and Canada, it was heavily contested and challenged by medical professionals who were unwilling to accept the changes to the scientific system.” … More Discovering Diseases: The Beginnings of Germ Theory and Preventative Precautions

The Introduction of Psychiatric Nursing: The Rockwood Training School for Nurses

Nurses were expected to be proficient in both mental health and physical nursing, as well as to be knowledgeable of the various mental illnesses and how they may appear. For the majority of the nineteenth century, trained nurses did not work at hospitals or asylums. The members of staff who interacted frequently with the patients … More The Introduction of Psychiatric Nursing: The Rockwood Training School for Nurses

Moral Treatment: A New Therapeutic Model

Organized sports and bicycling were also popular. These activities were believed to assist recovery, as they broke up the monotony of asylum life. In the late nineteenth century, Rockwood Asylum underwent a drastic change in treatment philosophies. Begun under the guidance of the third Superintendent Dr. William Metcalf, and continued by Dr. Charles Kirk Clarke, … More Moral Treatment: A New Therapeutic Model

Moral Treatment and Nursing School: The Impact of Dr. Charles Kirk Clarke at Rockwood Asylum.

Clarke strongly believed in “moral treatment”, an approach to mental health based on humane treatment as well as scheduled days in a calm environment. August 13, 1885. Dr. William Metcalf, medical superintendent of Rockwood Asylum and his assistant, Dr. Charles Kirk Clarke, are making their usual morning rounds of the institution. They approach one of … More Moral Treatment and Nursing School: The Impact of Dr. Charles Kirk Clarke at Rockwood Asylum.

Curative Architecture: The Healthful Design of Rockwood Asylum

In July of 1856 thirty-six acres of an estate west of Portsmouth Village, previously owned by politician John Cartwright, were purchased by the United Province of Canada East and Canada West. The intended purpose of the land? To become the home of a future asylum, intended to house both the “criminally insane” of Kington Penitentiary … More Curative Architecture: The Healthful Design of Rockwood Asylum

Good Air and Bad Air: The Importance of Ventilation

Considered by many as the founder of modern nursing, British social reformer Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was one of the most well-known female voices on health care in the 19th century. In this blog entry, I outline what Florence Nightingale believed was the most important consideration of nursing – the ventilation and good air of a patient’s room – and will explore how this advice recurs and develops in the ensuing forty years in home advice manuals. … More Good Air and Bad Air: The Importance of Ventilation

Domestic Nursing: An Introduction to Maintaining the Sick-Room

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management: A Complete Cookery Book (1861) was perhaps the most well-known and referred-to home advice manual of its time. It was originally published in 24 separate parts from 1859 to 1861, and then compiled as a bound book in 1861, soon becoming a staple in most Victorian homes. … More Domestic Nursing: An Introduction to Maintaining the Sick-Room