From the Richmond Examiner, 6/24/1864
THE STUART HOSPITAL – AN EXPLANATION. – The following statement of facts have been handed us as explanatory of a paragraph in this column yesterday, which alleged that ladies, with food and delicacies for the wounded, had been turned away from the Stuart hospital, without being allowed to deposit their contributions with the patients. – The explanation is full and should be satisfactory to all:
"To the Editor of the Examiner:
"I am sure, when the good ladies understand this matter, they will sustain me in the position I have taken. No sane physician, in private practice, would permit the room of his patient to be crowded with visitors all day, annoying him with questions, preventing sleep and rest to patients, and administering all kinds of food, both wholesome and deleterious, to the patient, and each visitor a different kind. When I took charge of the Stuart hospital, I found my patients were being killed with kindness. The surgeons in the wards complained to me that the wards were so filled with visitors all day that they could not get to their patients to dress their wounds, and many cases were such as were manifestly improper to dress in the presence of ladies. I saw different ladies offer, in the course of an hour, to a patient just recovering from typhoid fever, fruit, pickle, cake and buttermilk. I placed in each ward a written request that visitors would not administer food to patients without consulting the surgeon treating the case; but this did no good. I then instructed the ward masters to prevent it, but they reported that they were unable to do so. My duty to these sick and wounded soldiers placed under my charge is certainly as great as to any private patient. There are many kind and benevolent ladies who visit this hospital for the good of the patients, who bring delicacies for them. These ladies I will always be glad to see, and will give them permission to bring in their contributions to the chief matron at all times; but for one of these there are many who come from mere curiosity, and who do no good, but much harm. The food at this hospital is prescribed on a diet roll each day for each patient by the surgeon in charge of the ward, and administered by the matrons, and food is not allowed to be indiscriminately given by any one. All contributions to this hospital from the ladies will be thankfully received, but will be turned over to the chief matron for distribution, in accordance with the prescriptions on the diet rolls. All who really desired an explanation of this matter would have found it in writing on the gate. During the morning and evening, when the surgeons are prescribing for and dressing the wounds of the patients, the hospital is closed, except to those having sick or wounded relatives in the hospital; in the interim the gates are thrown open to the whole community.
"R. A. Lewis,
"Surgeon in Charge."