Quarantine Facilities: Source C

From a letter by John Cochrane about the cholera hospital, published in the Manx Sun 27th September 1833


“…Having arrived at that dreaded place, I gave myself up, never expecting to come out alive; but it has pleased the Almighty to restore me to my wonted health again, and I do hereby publicly attribute my restoration (under God) to the exertions of Dr. Quine and the nurses. The kind usage I received could not possibly have been exceeded by my mother; they watched over me night and day; whatever I asked for was instantly obtained if in the place, and if not was sent for immediately. Their kindness and attention did not extend to me only, but also to every patient who came there; and, indeed, many of the offices they had to perform were sufficient to disgust the stoutest heart; many times the offensive effluvia arising from the sick, caused the nurses (of which I was an eye witness) to run out of the room as quick as possible and vomit, and then wash their hands and face with vinegar to enable them to bear the stench; indeed there are few persons who would or could endure to be present – their situation is everything but enviable, and I think that it is my duty thus to make it known, in order to clear the characters of those who have been so unjustly traduced and vilified by individuals who knew nothing about it, but went about circulating falsehoods to the injury of character, and also of the place; and as a testimony of the truth of this statement,  – as I have no other motive but to publish the truth – were it my lot to be again visited by sickness, there is no place I would go with greater readiness than to the hospital, knowing that greater attention and kindness could not be possibly shown me any where else. And also with respect to the drinking of spirits by the nurses,  – during my stay I never saw either of them in the least concerned, nor ever felt the least smell of the kind.”

Questions to consider:

  1. What does this evidence tell you about conditions in the hospital?
  2. What does this evidence tell you about the role of the nurses?
  3. Why does John Cochrane feel that he has to write this public letter?
  4. What can you learn about the public reputation of the hospital and its staff?
Back to top