Old and New Edinburgh

Old and New Edinburgh

Volume IV

Volume 4 Page 298
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THE ROYAL INFIRMARY. 299 h6rmary Street] students to witness surgical operations. The Infirmary has separate wards for male and female patients, and a ward which is used as a Lock hospital ; but even in ordinary periods the building had become utterly incompetent for the service of Edinburgh, and during the prevalence of an epidemic afforded but a mere fraction of the required accommodation, and hence the erection of its magnificent successor, to which we shall refer elsewhere. The Earl of Hopetoun, in 1742, and for the last twenty-five years of his life, generously contributed A400 per annum to the institution when it was young and struggling. In 1750 Dr. Archibald Kerr of Jamaica bequeathed to it an estate worth E218 11s. 5d. yearly; and five years afterwards the Treasury made it a gift of jG8,ooo j yet it has never met with the support from Government. that it ought to have done, and which similar institutions in London receive. But the institution owed most of its brilliant success to Lord Provost Drummond. Among his associates in this good work he had the honoured members of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in Edinburgh, ever first in all works of goodness and charity; and the first Dr. Munro, Professor of Anatomy, was singularly sanguine of the complete success of the undertaking. That portion of the house which was founded by the Earl of Cromarty was opened for the reception of patients in December, 1741. The theatre described was made to serve the purposes also of a chapel, and twelve cells on the ground floor, for cases of delirium fremens, being found unnecessary, were converted into kitchens and larders, &c. The grounds around the house, consisting of two acres, and long bounded on- the south by the city wall, were laid out into grass walks for the convalescents, and ultimately the house was amply supplied with water from the city reservoir. In the years 1743-4 the sick soldiers of the regiments quartered in the Castle were accommodated in the Infirmary; and in the stormy period of the '45 it was of necessity converted into a great military hospital for the sick and wounded troops of both armies engaged at Prestonpans and elsewhere ; and in I 748 the surgeon-apothecaries, who since 1729 had given all manner of medical aid gratis, were feed for the first time. Wounded from our armies in Flanders have been sent there for treatment. In 1748, after paying for the site, building, furniture, &c., the stock of the institution amounted to &5,00o; and sick patients not wishing to be resident were invited to apply for advice on Mondays and Fridays, and were in cases of necessity admitted as supernumeraries at the rate of 6d. per day. About this time there was handed over an Invalid Grant made by Government to the city, on consideration of sixty beds being retained for the use of all soldiers who paid 4d. per diem for accommodation, This sum, &3, 2 70, was fully made over to the managers, who, for some time afteqfound themselves called upon to entertain so many military patients, that a guard had to be mounted on the house to enforce order; and liberty was obtained to deposit all dead patients in Lady Yester's churchyard, on the opposite side of the street. Hitherto the physicians had, with exemplary fidelity, attended the patients in rotation j but in January, 1751, the managers on being empowered by the general court of contributors, selected Dr. David Clerk and Dr, Colin Drummond, physicians in ordinary, paying them the small honorarium of ;E30 annually. The University made offer to continue its services, together with those of the ordinary physicians, which offer was gladly accepted; and though the practice fell into disuse, they were long continued in monthly rotation. To the option of the two ordinary physicians was left the visiting of the patients conjointly, or by each taking his own department. "It was their duty to sign the tickets of admission and dismission. In case of any unforeseen occurrences or dangerous distemper, the matron or clerks were permitted to use this authe rity ; the physicians en their amval, however, were expected to append their signatures to the tickets. The good and economy of the house from the first, induced the managers to appoint two of their number to visit the institution once every month, who were enjoined to inquire how far the patients were contented with their treatment, and to note what they found inconsistent with the ordinary regulations : their remarks to be entered in a book of reports, to come under review at the first meeting of managers." (" Journal of Antiq.," VoL 11.) In 1754 some abuses prevailed in the mode of dispensing medicines to the out-door patients, detrimental to the finances ; an order was given for a more judicious and sparing distribution. In the following pear application was made to the Town Council, as well as to the Presbytery of the Church, to raise money at their several churches to provide a ward for sick servants-which had been found one of the most useful in the house. From its first institution the ministers of the city had, in monthly rotation, conducted the religious services ; but in the middle of 1756 the managers appointed aregular chaplain, whose duty it was to preach every Monday in the theatre for surgical operations.
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