Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Rewrite the history books: The Black Nurse of the Crimean war

via Feminine Genius:

The story of Mary Seacole.

part two HERE.


Podcast and summary here.

it would make a great movie or miniseries.


However, as a doctor I should add this caveat:

some of the stories say she wasn't accepted into working in the hospitals because of racism.

Excuse me, but Florence Nightingale only took sober reliable women with experience. She was trying to establish nursing as a scientific modern career, and her volunteers tended to be educated women with some knowledge of nursing, not self proclaimed healers from the colonies.

Her party including both Anglican and Roman Catholic nuns. That last part suggests prejudice was not a big thing for Ms Nightingale, since anti Catholic prejudice was huge at that time, possible stronger than anti Black prejudice.

Lately, the nitpickers have turned on Ms Nightingale, claiming the death rate remained high, or that it went down because the soldiers were less sick after year one,  but the lecture here discusses their attacks on her work and defends her with statistical data, although it notes she was not alone in introducing cleanliness etc to these hospitals...from the transcript:

The reports of the inspectors who did the actual work are available, with such details as ‘556 hand carts of filth’ removed from the Barrack and General Hospitals, while at Koulali ‘two tons of filth’ and twenty-four dead horses were removed (Sutherland (1857a), page 38). (‘Filth’ means faeces, rubbish and offensive matter.)

Nightingale in her own ‘confidential’ report described supervising the removal of tubs of excreta from the wards at the Scutari Barrack Hospital and quoted an official report describing faeces flowing across the floor from the plugged toilets (Nightingale (1858a), page 92).

The French data also constitute a refutation of the hypothesis of Hinton (2010) that the decline in Scutari hospital death rates was the result of the healthier condition of soldiers on entering those hospitals. The French Army suffered from the same conditions as the British, and yet their death rates rose considerably in the second year, whereas the British rates fell.

yes, let us laud a woman who helped out soldiers in a war, and celebrate her deeds.

But don't pretend that enthusiasm and giving grog, food and herbal medicine replaced what was needed: Someone to clean the place up and make sure there was decent food for the sick.

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