From the Richmond Examiner, 2/8/1862, p. 3, c. 1
THE HOSPITAL SERVICE IN RICHMOND – THE “CHIMBORAZO HOSPITALS.”
We do not believe that the public of Richmond are generally aware of the very extensive system of military hospitals that have been established by the government in this city. On the heights overlooking Rocketts, and commanding a most picturesque view of the river, there are no less than five military hospitals, known as the “Chimborazo Hospitals.” The buildings are almost as numerous as those of a small village, and a visit to them not only repays curiosity but offers much of intelligent and varied interest in the management and operations of these vast hospital establishments.
The occasion having arisen in the emergencies of the service for some extraordinary provision on the part of the government for the sick and wounded soldiers of our immense army, distributed throughout Virginia, the responsible duty necessarily devolved upon the Surgeon-General of the Confederate States. The battles of the 18th and 21st July, together with the severe disease occurring in camp during the warm season, demonstrated the inadequacy of small hospitals, however liberally equipped or skillfully managed, to meet the exigencies of the occasion. The Surgeon-General promptly and fully met this pressure of events by converting the extensive buildings erected on Chimborazo Heights, and designed as winter quarters for soldiers, into five comfortable and commodious hospitals, still holding in reserve a number of other buildings on the same grounds to enlarge the capacity of these hospitals, should occasion require it. It is said the buildings will accommodate 8,500 sick and wounded soldiers.
These five hospitals, placed under the general supervision and control of the able and well known Surgeon-in-Chief, J. B. McCAW, were opened on the eleventh day of October, 1861. They were immediately filled to their utmost capacity with sick and suffering soldiers from almost every division of the army. – A surgeon of tried experience has been placed in charge of each of these hospitals, aided by a full complement of skillful assistant surgeon, together with apothecaries, clerks, stewards, ward masters, and all other necessary attendants.
Some idea of the magnitude of the transactions of this institution may be formed from the following summary of its officers and attendants, the number of sick admitted, &c.:
There is a medical doctor, four surgeons, sixteen assistant surgeons, four apothecaries, two clerks, ten stewards, one hundred and twenty cooks, nurses and other attendants.
The number of sick admitted from 11th of October 1861, to 1st of January, 1862, was three thousand two hundred and twelve; number of deaths during that time one hundred and sixteen [3.61 % mortality – MDG]. These hospitals are now less crowded than heretofore, but yet contain nearly, or quite, one-third of all the sick soldiers now in the city.
The low rate of mortality at this institution, considering the number who were brought into it in extremis, the rare occurrence of relapse during convalescence, the general contentment of the inmates, the elevated and healthful location of the buildings, their free ventilation and decided comfort, the abundant supply of pure water, together with the economy of the plan, thoroughly demonstrate the adaptation of this institution to the wants of the service; and its successful career to this time constitutes a merited tribute to the comprehensive views and sagacious foresight of the surgeon-general.
THE LOUISIANA HOSPITAL
We are indebted to Dr. FORMENTO, chief surgeon of the Louisiana Hospital, for a copy of his report, with statements from the War Department, showing the number and names of Louisiana volunteers who have been killed in battle, who have died from disease, and who have been honourably discharged from service within the State of Virginia. Since the establishment of the institution there have been a large number of patients treated. During the last three months not less than 824 patients were admitted. Of this number, 477 have returned to duty in health, 117 have been discharged from the service for inability, and 47 have died [5.7% mortality – MDG].
From the government the hospital draws commutation for soldiers’ rations at the rate of twenty-two cents a day for each private soldier, and pay for the nurses and fuel. For the officers no commutation of rations is allowed by the government. By contract the hospital buys beef at eight and a third cents per pound, mutton at ten cents, bread at four cents a loaf, and milk, of which a large quantity is required by the patients, at forty cents a gallon. Chickens, eggs and vegetables are purchased daily at market prices.