From Hotel To Hospital Essay Research Paper

From Hotel To Hospital Essay, Research Paper


Hospitality, shelter, foreigners, strangers; all these words bring the meaning hotel to mind. At first, that is exactly what a hospital was. The word hospital derives from the Latin word hospes meaning guest. Gradually these places catered to the aged and sick, and a variety of institutions came into being. During the Medieval period people started to realize the need for social assistance for sickness or other mishaps. From the Muslim East, to the Christian West, hospitals became an evident creation. The change in character is illustrated in the history of St. John Hospital, Oxford, which originally seems to have served as an entertainment stop for travelers, but was refounded in 1231 as a hospital for the sick (Manco 1).

Endowments are what gave hospitals their start. Usually the king granted the right to have wood from the royal forest and straw from the crown lands to help in the building of the institutions. Nobles, or well-to-do merchants, sometimes contributed money, and pilgrims gave alms. In addition, the pope often gave the right to beg in public for a certain number of days. By these donations and assistance, money was raised for the repair of the hospitals. Another common privilege for the newly devised medical centers was exemption from the payment of certain subsidies (Markham 1).

The building models for hospitals came from the dormitories of the great monastic houses. The layout included a long hall for the sick, which could be divided by wooden screens. By the thirteenth century separate rooms progressively became popular (Markham 2). The location of the hospital buildings was closely linked with town life. Hospitals were built along routes taken by crusaders. Also knightly orders assumed the mission of founding and maintaining hospitals (Rosen 439).

During the later Middle Ages the cities took an active role in founding hospitals and other establishments for medical care. Wealthy citizens sought to outdo one another in advancing their city. Hospitals, refuges, and homes were established for all conditions of men, women, and children. Wealthy guilds built their own hospitals; others paid regular fees to a cloister hospital (Manco 3).

In the East, hospitals were created by rulers and public officials in urban centers. The hospitals were well organized and reflected the high state of development attained by medicine in Muslim lands. In Cairo, for example, the hospital founded in 1283 had separate sections for patients with febrile diseases, for the wounded, and for those with eye diseases, as well as special rooms for women.

In the west, the establishment of hospitals originated with the church. The monastic orders of the Medieval period made the most significant contribution to this development. The manner in which the monks cared for the sick became a model for the laity. The monasteries had an infirmitorium, where the sick were taken for treatment (Rosen 440).

The church s responsibility was to rid the poverty and sickness in the hospitals. Special almoners were in charge of charity and they were very prudent and discreet in the distribution of the money, fearing that people would make themselves sick in order to receive money. The church also visited and assisted the old and the blind who were confined to their beds. In 1180 Bishop Reginald FitzJocelin founded the Hospital of Saint John the Baptist for the poor people of Bath. He was able to collect the money for the hospital through donations only (Hayes 554).

During this time period Leprosy was the major health problem seen throughout the hospitals. Doctors used medical springs, diet, blood-letting, plasters, and ointment to try and cure the illness. There were lepers pools, where only the lepers could bathe. Doctors often mistaken other diseases as Leprosy because it was so common. Thanks to the Black Death that swept through Europe, most of the leprosy was removed.

Many people faced grim old age because many families could not provide for their elderly members. The church did its best to help by the Bishops being bound by vows to give alms to the poor and sick. The elderly sick who could not even get out of their bed at home, were cared for at the almoner s discretion (Hayes 555).

By the end of the fifthteenth century, Europe had a network of hospitals. In England alone there were more than 750 hospitals that were established during the Medieval period. Most of the hospitals were staffed by more than 300 monks and other nursing personnel. During the later fifthteenth century there were at least forty hospitals of various kinds in operation (Rosen 440).

From the hotels to the transformation to hospitals, it is no exaggeration to describe the development of the hospital as one of the great public health achievements of the Middle Ages. Because of the progress of these institutions during the Medieval period, doctors are now more capable of helping and curing the sick community today. The medical breakthroughs that have occurred during the last ten years all date back to the beginning of those so called hotels.


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