Cholera: Timely Precautionary Measures Being Taken 1885

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Dr. Griffiths, of the Health Department, who has special charge of contagious cases, called at the office of the Commissioners of Charities and Corrections this morning and asked if the department could have the use of the small pox pavilions at Flatbush in case of cholera breaking out in the city.

"Doctor, do you anticipate having any cases?" Commissioner Kissam asked.

Dr. Griffiths- We have had no signs of cholera as yet, but the disease is spreading in Europe and we want to prepare for it in case it should pay us a visit. Smallpox is raging in Montreal and we are taking every precaution possible in the event of the appearance of contagious diseases in Brooklyn. We d not fear an epidemic if we can take charge of a disease the moment it appears.

Commissioner Reeve_We are willing to render you any assistance in our power, but we must first protect our patients at Flatbush. Would not the disease spread to the other buildings if cholera cases were confined in the smallpox pavilions?"

Dr. Griffiths- Not at all. The buildings are sufficiently isolated to prevent the spread of the disease. The spread of cholera results from the excretions of the victim, and if we have an isolated house we can so thoroughly disinfect the place that from what we now know of the disease there will be no danger to inmates in the neighboring buildings.

Commissioner Kissani- The smallpox pavilions are empty and have been for nearly two years. The smallpox cases have of late been treated in the hospital. I see no reason why the request of the Health Department should not be granted, provided, of course, our medical superintendent gives consent.

Commissioner Reeve_ Before we do anything we must consult with Dr. Arnold and his staff of medical advisers. If they offer no objection to allowing the pavilions to be used by the city for cholera. I don't think the commissioners will interfere. We must be satisfied that no danger will result to the patients in our special charge.

Dr. Griffiths- The only objection that I can see is a sentimental one on the part of some patients, who might object to going to a smallpox hospital; but that, of course, has no weight.

Commissioner Reeve said that he would consult with Dr. Arnold this afternoon and report tomorrow to the Health Department.

In answer to a question by the Eagle reporter Dr. Griffiths said there was no cause for any alarm whatever. There were no signs of the disease in this country and the steps taken by the Health Department were merely precautionary, in order to prevent spread of the cholera in the event of its appearance.

Dr. Shaw, of the Asylum, was present and said that in his judgment the cholera was not coming to this country this year. In case it did, he said, the near approach of cold weather was argument against an epidemic.

Dr. Shaw was seen subsequently by the reporter, and made the following statement: "I think the proposition to use the smallpox pavilions for cholera cases is one of the most absurd I ever heard. There would be every danger of spread of the disease, there being always cases of dysentery in the Flatbush Institutions. There are about 3,000 inmates in the several buildings and 200 employees. We are overcrowded now, and it will cost over $100,000 to place the building in perfect sanitary condition. The city should have a place of its own for a cholera hospital. I repeat that I think there is no danger of the approach of cholera."

Health Commissioner Raymond was indignant when told of the above statement by Dr. Shaw. He said he thought that as the county provided for smallpox patients and other contagious and infectious diseases the Commissioners ought to make some provision for cholera cases.


Website: The History
Article Name: Cholera: Timely Precautionary Measures Being Taken 1885
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Eagle August 22, 1885
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