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Nurse, what time is my portion of rum, and fresh beef? : And don’t be rude to me!

Around 1850, the patients’ breakfast consisted of: sugar orange leaf tea and bread. For lunch, a pound of fresh beef, sugar and bread, (or saltfish when no availability of fresh beef – although no accounting could be found for saltfish purchases, during the inquiry – I think the surgeon in charge needed the spiritual guidance of Father Huguer de St Pierre, Lanse de Gouyave in how to maintain accurate up-to-date records). Although accounting show, money spent on rum and bottles of port wine. The classification of some patients as ‘drunkards’ were noted, inclusive of the fact, that they were given loads of rum to drink to quench their ‘drunkard’ diagnosis.

The officer carrying out the inquiry about patients care, discovered that some of the ‘sick’ had left their beds to go town or in the countryside. Oh, what a lovely colonial ‘sick’ life – bring back the good old days! The total number of patients, of course differed, but I spotted a record of 13-1/3 patients, can you have a third of a patient? As a child I disliked fractions, a half, a quarter was fine, but could not make mathematical meaning of a third, an eighth, one sixteenth etc. became mind boggling but then I was around 6-7 years of age, tough stuff for a young kid even with a pictorial image of cake on the blackboard.

The patients were lucky, as a child our household never had regular supplies of fresh beef! We had a freshly killed chicken on Sundays, and fish during the week, although saying that, I recall a cow was slaughtered one late Sunday morning, and my brother and I went down to the scene with a bucket to purchase some blood, so our Grandmother can make black blood pudding, with the congealed blood, breadcrumbs, it was lovely, with the thyme and hot peppers, with bread. Yummy!

It was also documented, that the Nurse and ‘servants’ were rude to the ‘sick’ patients, and it was requested for them to be dismissed. What an excellent, no-nonsense enquiry officer! We need more people like him to be on the side of the ‘sick’ and vulnerable folks.

A quote from the inquiry officer 1850 report; which may open a can of debateable food for thought worms: Quote: …A man may be a good surgeon, but totally unfit to conduct a hospital….: Unquote

Holy Father, one of your Names is ‘I am the Lord who heals you’, I ask you in the Name of Jesus to heal all those crying out to you with their ailments, illness, sickness and chronic pain both at home and in hospital. Give patience and wisdom to all those you care and tend the sick, that they may be kind, respectful and not be rude to the patients.Reward those who donate medicines, equipment and funds for the wellbeing of the sick. Amen.

Re: Nurse, what time is my portion of rum, and fresh beef? : And don’t be rude to me!

Lady G,

You will be amazed to learn that the sentiments quoted from the inquiry officer's 1850 report continue to this very day in the health care delivery environment for over one and a half century now and would forever continue as the two contending opinions to hospital management seem to border on the emotional vis a vis the practical approach.

My years as an Administrator in that field were faced with this exact sentiment and played out more vigorously in negotiations with contracted skilled providers whose responsibilities to their patients extend far beyond the financial aspects of hospital solvency that restrict us, hence creating an oblivious opinion in regards to the emotional and psychological aspects towards healing.

This, in my opinion, points to the very nature of men as opposed to women where the blue print (if you will) of the latter group gives them an advantageous opportunity of providing a more holistic approach to healing with the application of their caring techniques that are so lacking in men. As such, the observation that made way for the quote. .... "A man may be a good surgeon, but totally unfit to conduct a hospital" may in fact be well founded in 1850 but may be lacking in practicality for a 21st. century aproach to "opening that can of worms", particularly as women have advanced to become Surgeons themselves.

VJ Louison