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Shandon Cholera Hospital 1849

Desperate Haven - The Famine in Dungarvan

7. Shandon Cholera Hospital 1849

Shandon House Cholera Hospital Drawn By Willie Fraher

Due to the increase in the number of fever cases that occurred within the previous two to three weeks the Fever Hospital in Abbeyside became overcrowded. There was also a cholera and small pox epidemic that exacerbated the situation. The Board of Guardians decided, on 28 April 1849 to accept the proposal of Mr. Jeremiah Morrissey and Mr. Patrick Ronayne to let their house, office and concerns at Shandon as a permanent and sufficiently large Cholera Hospital. The rate of remuneration for the premises was £80 a year, subject to the condition that should the Guardians 'require the premises for a lesser period than twelve months and by the Boards giving notice thereof at any time on or before 30 October next to surrender said house and concerns, the amount of remuneration for such term of six months shall not exceed £65 stg.' Obviously permanent in this context meant for the duration of the epidemic.
Dr. Patrick Travers and surgeon John Coman were appointed to the Cholera Hospital, and alternatively (sic) to report and attend all cases outside the hospital, at the rate of one guinea per day. Mr. Henry Anthony was appointed as apothecary, at a salary of two guineas a week. His duties were as follows:-

1. To assist in compounding medicines for the Cholera hospital,
2. To keep a dispensary open for all affected by pulmonary symptoms,
3. To afford such persons immediate medical attendance either by administering relief or reporting the  case to the Medical Officer.    
The following are the weekly reports for the Cholera hospital:-

Weekly Report from 29 April to 10 May 1849.

The number of patients admitted was 220, all of whom had come from the Workhouse or its auxiliaries, with the exception of two who had come from Abbeyside. There were 137 patients in hospital at the end of the week, of whom 30 were convalescents.
The Board of Guardians appointed 20 nurses at the rate of 5/-s a week with rations. The visiting committee advertised for a contractor for the erection of a dead-house at the Cholera hospital, the existing one to be converted into a convalescent house. The cost of this dead-house was £6, built by Messrs. Sandford and McCarthy.

Weekly Report, on 16 May 1849.

Admitted 138
Total Admissions to this Date 358
Discharged 37
Died 166
Convalescent 30
Remaining Under Treatment 125 
Total 358
Of the above admissions:-
53 came from Kiely's store No. 1
39 came from Abbeyside store
16 came from Union Workhouse
6  came from Kiely's store No. 2
11 came from Fever Hospital
13 came from Town

The admissions were on the decline daily since first report, although the number in hospital remained about the same.
Of the 37 discharged, 32 had been returned, no place having been provided for them in the other houses.
The Medical Officer asked the Guardians of the Union to supply a light covered car rather than the barrow that up until that time was being used to transport the patients. The barrows were only capable of bringing one third the number of patients brought by cars, and they found that, 'the patients are terrified and alarmed as the bearers refuse to act without whiskey.' These patients were found to be in a state of collapse as a result of being conveyed in these barrows by half-drunken men. The bearers sought this whiskey as a form of recompense for performing the dangerous task of transporting the patients!
Mr. Michael Montaigne was appointed clerk and store keeper to the Medical Officers of the Shandon Cholera hospital, at 15/-s. per week.

Weekly Report, on 23 May 1849.
Total No. of cases reported on 16 May 358

Admitted since 58 - Died 201 - Convalescent 85 - Fit to be Discharged 50 - Remaining Under Treatment 80

Of the above number of 58 admitted:-

16 came from Keating's store
14 came from Union Workhouse
12 came from Abbeyside stores
5  came from Town Cholera Hospital
4  came from Fever Hospital
7  came from Kiely's store.

58 Total

There was a decrease of 80 on the numbers admitted on last report. Despite this decrease the hospital was much overcrowded. The number of inmates at this stage was 244. The cholera and fever epidemics were rampant, as is evident from the above report. Not only the patients were infected, but so also were some of the nurses and convalescents. The mortality rate was 48 per week.* The Medical Officer stated that the average mortality would not have been so great if the patients were not all received in an advanced state of collapse. This was due to lack of immediate attention, and also to their mode of conveyance to hospital i.e. the barrows.

Signed: P. Travers, J. Coman.

This mortality rate figure quoted was based on the number of deaths averaged over the four week period.

Weekly Report, on 28 May 1849

Total No. Reported 416
Admitted since 52
Total Admissions 468
Discharged 75
Died 225
Convalescent 50
Fit to be Discharged 30
Remaining Under Treatment 88  
Total 468

Of the above 52 admissions:-

15 came from Keating's store
4 came from Abbeyside
2 came from Union Workhouse
22 came from Town and Vicinity
8 came from Town Cholera Hospital.   
52 Total

There was a decrease of six in admissions on previous week, although admissions from the town and vicinity increased. These patients as well as those coming from the Workhouse were in an advanced state of collapse. In addition to the 75 women discharged a further 30 men and boys were ready for discharge, as soon as a place for their reception was provided.

Signed: P. Travers, J. Coman, M. Officers.

Weekly Report, on June 1849.

Total No. of cases Received during the Week 50
Total No. of Deaths during the Week 21
Total No. of Admitted since  Commenced 518

Total  Deaths 246
Fit when Discharged 50
Total Discharged 114
Remaining Sick 50
Convalescent 58
Total 518

Of the above 50 admissions:-
9 came from Town and Vicinity
3 came from Union Workhouse
20 came from Auxiliaries
1 came from Fever Hospital
17 came from Town Cholera Hospital and Country
50 Total

Signed: P. Travers, J. Coman.

The Board of Guardians ordered that since the cholera numbers at Shandon had decreased that the number of nurses be reduced to 14.

Weekly Report, on 15 June 1849

Number Admitted during the Week 28
Number of Deaths during the Week 11
Discharged during the Week 79
Total Admitted since Commenced 546
Total Deaths since Commenced 257
Total Discharged since Commenced 203     
Convalescent 21
Remaining Sick 65

Weekly Report, on 20 June 1849

Total Number Admitted during Week 7
Total Number of Deaths during Week 3
Total Number Discharged during Week 14

Total Admitted since Commenced 553
Total Deaths since Commenced 260
Total Discharged since Commenced 217
Remaining in Hospital 76
Remaining sick 56
Convalescents 20

A report of Mr. Denis Phelan, Poor Law Inspector, who visited the Cholera hospital, stated that as the cholera had almost ceased in the town and vicinity, and as there were only 76 patients in hospital, staff numbers should be reduced. He also stated that as most of the convalescents were from the Workhouse, places should be made ready for them. He suggested that, 'the Medical Officers be instructed not to receive any patients except those as are obviously affected with cholera or with its pulmonary symptoms, leaving any that may labour under fever, dysentery, or other epidemic diseases to be treated in the Fever Hospital.' The Board decided to carry out these recommendations immediately. They therefore directed the Master:

  1. To have the convalescents patients removed from the hospital to the Workhouse premises.
  2. To remove those in fever to the Fever Hospital.
  3. To place those then remaining in hospital under the charge of Dr. Anthony, the Out-Door Inspector.
  4. To dispense with the services of the present Medical Officers, and to place the duty of the hospital under the charge of Dr. Anthony, without additional pay.
  5. To reduce the number of nurse tenders.
  6. To dispense with the services of the clerk of the hospital.

From the foregoing report it is apparent that Dr. Anthony who was the apothecary was also the Out-Door Inspector. He was now created Medical Officer as well. On 28 June it was decided to discharge all nurse tenders and any persons in their place were selected from the paupers, each to receive not more than 2/6s. per week.

Weekly Report, on 26 June 1849.

No. found on taking the Roll 46 patients, and 5 nurses @ 5/- per week.
Discharged 29 patients - Discharged 2 nurses - No. Unfit to be Moved and under Treatment 18 - Fresh cases of Admission 2

Signed: Henry Anthony, M.Officer.

Weekly Report, on 7 July 1849.

Cases Admitted 39
Deaths 18
Discharged 17
Sent to Fever Hospital 4
Remaining Under Treatment 13

From the few cases that occurred during the week the medical doctor expected to be able to close the hospital within a few days.

Signed: Henry Anthony, M.O. 

Weekly Report, on 12 July 1849.

Admitted 7 - Deaths 6 - Discharged 9 - Sent to Fever Hospital 3 -Remaining 3

It was reported that the three remaining cases could be removed. Dr. Christian was ordered to take charge of the Cholera hospital, and Mr. Anthony was ordered to continue as apothecary and Medical Inspector.

Weekly Report, on 19 July 1849.

Admitted 11
Deaths 8
Discharged 3
Remaining in hospital 5

The Medical Officer had expected to be able to close the hospital, but was unable to do so due to the occurrence of a few new cases.

Signed: T. Christian, H. Anthony, M.I.

Weekly Report, on 26 July 1849.

Admitted 7
Deaths 5

Remaining in Hospital 7

Signed: T. Christian, H. Anthony, M.I.

Weekly Report, on 2 August 1849.

Remaining from the Previous Week 7
Admitted 2
Total 9

Discharged 3
Died 3
Remaining in Hospital 3
Total 9

Signed: T. Christian, H. Anthony.

Weekly Report, on 9 August 1849.

Remaining from the Previous Week 2
Admitted 9
Total 11

Died 5
Discharged 1
Remaining 5 
Total 11

Signed: T. Christian, H. Anthony.

Weekly Report, on 16 August 1849.

Remaining from Previous Week 5
Admitted this Week 17
Total 22

Died 11
Discharged 2
Remaining this day 9
Total 22

Weekly Report, on 23 August 1849.

Remaining from Previous Week 9
Admitted 11
Total 20

Died 8
Discharged 4
Remaining 8
Total 20

Weekly Report, on 30 August 1849.

Remaining from Previous Week 8
Admitted 3
Died 5
Discharged 6  
Remaining 0

Signed: Thos. Christian, M.O.

Number of cases treated from the Dispensary for the Week 13

Signed: Henry Anthony, M.I.
As the hospital was reported empty, the Board decided to discharge all persons employed at the hospital with the exception of the porter and his wife, who were left in charge of the establishment. However as the following weekly report indicates this decision could not have been carried into effect.

Weekly Report, on 6 September 1849.

Admitted 12
Died 5
Remaining in hospital 7
No. treated for the Week from Dispensary 14

Signed: T. Christian, H. Anthony.

The Medical Officer reported that the mortality rate of the hospital, from 3 July to September, appeared to be 66%; admissions being 94, of those deaths being 64.

Weekly Report, on 13 September 1849.

Remaining from Previous Week 6*
Admitted 5
Total 11

Died 7
Remaining in hospital 4
Total 11
Number treated from the Dispensary for the Week 12

*This figure does not tally with the report of the previous week.

Weekly Report, on 20 September 1849.
Remaining from Previous Week 4
Admitted 0
Discharged 4
Remaining 0
Number treated from Dispensary for the Week 5

Weekly Report, on 27 September 1849.
Remaining from Previous Week 0
Admitted 1
Discharged 1
Remaining 0
No. treated from Dispensary for the Week 1

As the cholera had disappeared, the Medical Officers requested that the Shandon Cholera Hospital be closed, and the staff, including themselves be dismissed.

Signed: T. Christian, M. Officer, H. Anthony, Medical Inspector.

The Board ordered its closure on 27 September 1849.

Total No. Admitted since Commencement 679
Total No. Of Deaths since Commencement 341

The percentage death rate of cholera admissions in the Shandon hospital, was 50.2%. It's period of operation was from 29 April to 27 September 1849.

Report of the Commissioners of Health, Ireland:- On the Epidemics of 1846 to 1850.
Name of Town Dungarvan
Total Population 12,382
No. of Cholera Cases 723
No. of Cholera Deaths 344
Rate of Mortality 47.4%
First Case 29 Apr. 1849
Last Case 11 Sept. 1849

On 12 February 1852 the Medical Officer recommended the re-opening of the Shandon Cholera Hospital, for the reception of cases of measles and opthalmia. There was pressure on accommodation in the Fever Hospital. This recommendation was referred to the visiting committee for their consideration. On 19 February the hospital re-opened. Patrick Connell, late ward-master of the Albert and Boyle house, was appointed superintendent, at a salary of £1 a month and rations. On 18 February 34 patients were removed from the Infirmary to Shandon hospital. Four cases of English cholera appeared in the house on 19 August. Even though English cholera was not as serious as Asiatic cholera, it still accounted for the deaths of 3 of the 4 people affected. On 30 September 1852 Dr. Christian ordered the removal of the patients in Shandon hospital to the Workhouse, the surrender of the hospital, and the lodgement of a cheque for £20, i.e. the rate due up to 3 October 1852. This ended the association of the Dungarvan Union with Shandon hospital.

Author: William Fraher

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