“The Corporation of Nottingham have erected on a site of 12 acres at Bagthorpe adjoining
the Hucknall Road and Great Northern Railway a hospital for the reception and isolation
of cases of small pox and other infectious diseases. The buildings comprise one administrative
block, two for scarlet fever patients (each having accommodation for 22 patients)
and one for small pox 22 patients another for cases of enteric fever, accommodating
Isolation Hospitals or rather Sanatoriums belong now very much to an older generation
of patients. These were people, who were unfortunate enough to have picked up, or
in many cases to have come into contact with others who were carriers of one of the
many diseases sanatoriums were most remembered for treating. Many a tale has been
told of those suffering from tuberculosis receiving, before the days of antibiotics
‘fresh air treatment’ This was a form of treatment that in some cases could incarcerate
a person for months or even years at a time, and was an admixture of diet, sunshine
and gentle exercise.
It will of course always be tuberculosis or ‘TB’ that will so readily come to mind
when the subject of isolation hospitals is discussed. There were of course many other
diseases that were treated within the confines of an isolation hospital. These were
mostly Enteric or rather ‘Typhoid Fever,’ Scarlet Fever, Diphtheria, and the most
dreaded of all Smallpox. Collectively they came under the heading of ‘Public Health,’
especially in later years when local departments of health attempted to bring semblances
of control to these highly contagious diseases.
However, man has in many ways been the destiny of his own ‘Public Health.’ In a sense,
the beginning of the agricultural industry and mans domestication of animals, especially
for use in the farming industry was historically the beginning of illness that came
under the heading of public health and were latterly treated in sanatorium’s.
With the domestication of animals, pathogens or microorganisms able to cause disease
that were exclusive to animals transferred themselves to man. For example, cattle
contributed to tuberculosis and smallpox, pigs and ducks passed on influenza. Horses
brought rhinoviruses, or the common cold, whilst measles is the result of rinderpest
(canine distemper) as a consequence of mans domestication of the dog. There were
many other diseases that man became vulnerable to as well. Farm and domestic animals
and other vermin carry the salmonella bacteria. Water polluted by faeces, both human
and animal became the spawning ground for polio, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, whooping
cough and diphtheria.
The demise of the isolation hospital’s came as a result in improved living standards,
better health education and of course the development of antibiotics. Of the all
the antibiotics discovered the two that are most common to everyone are the discoveries
of the smallpox vaccine by Edward Jenner in 1798 and penicillin by Sir Alexander
Fleming in 1928. Both these discoveries along with others such as Streptomycin and
para-amino salicylic acid (PAS) by Sir Austin Bradford Hill in 1950 and the curing
of tuberculosis were to see the slow and gradual demise of isolation hospitals.
Today very little remains of what was once part of 19th and early 20th century health
care. However, places such as the Nottingham City Hospital still have physical reminders.
The Nottingham City Hospital is mostly remembered for its past as a workhouse and
infirmary, an institution that was opened 18th March 1903. However, what has been
forgotten is the old isolation hospital that was opened in 1892 and so pre-dates
the workhouse and infirmary by eleven years. Of the old sanatorium or ‘Bagthorpe
Isolation Hospital,’ that was later renamed Heathfield Hospital, very little remains
as a result of resent developments.