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Norristown State Hospital
Norristown State Hospital received its first patient, a woman, on July 12, 1880 under the supervision of Dr. Robert H. Chase and Dr. Alice Bennett. Two more women arrived on July 13th followed by the first two men on July 17th. Very soon thereafter groups of individuals were admitted from other state hospitals and county almshouses. By September 30, 1880, there were 295 men and 251 women receiving inpatient care and treatment.
Norristown State Hospital was the first of the Pennsylvania state hospitals to construct its buildings deviating slightly from the "Kirkbride Plan", best known as "Transitional Plan". Instead of constructing a single monolithic building, the individual patient wards were separated and free-standing. These building were connected with a series of underground tunnels, including a central tunnel which stretches across the property. Norristown still maintains the schematics of Kirkbride's original plan, with it separation of male and female departments, as well as leveling the acuity of patients by ward.
There was a tremendous emphasis during the early period on a 'humane' approach to psychiatric treatment ("moral therapy") allowing the individual as much liberality as his/her condition would permit, which was common of the period. Several low-acuity wards were unlocked for periods of time, and grounds privileges was a common feature of daily life. Work assignments became a significant feature of a patient's daily routine, many focusing on the workings of the state farm. They were not limited to farm work, other occupational departments include: Administration, Bakery, Billiard room, Boiler room, Bric-a-brac shop, Brush shop, Butcher, Carpenter shop, Dispensary, Garden, Kitchen, Laundry, Machinists, Mattress shop, News-room, Out-door improvement, Painters, Plasterers, Plumbers, Printing office, Scroll saw shop, Shoemakers, Stables, Store-rooms, Tailors, Wards and dining rooms and Weavers. However, with the change in Pennsylvania State Law in the 1970's, hospital patients were no longer permitted to be involved in farm labor. Thereafter, the farmlands were employed by separates agencies of the city of Norristown, namely Norris-City and Norristown Farm Park. Click here for more...
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The main building
was so far completed as to be placed under the control of the board October 1, 1851, and after that time suitable cases were received. As the wards for the violent and noisy insane, for which appropriation was made by the Legislature, session of 1850-51, were unfinished, admissions were restricted to those who could be accommodated in a proper manner. Thirty seven patients were received by the end of the year 1851, the first one having been admitted on the 6th of October.
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Asylum News (news you can edit!)
February 7, 2016 Clarinda struggles to fill former hospital
- The 128-year-old former mental health institute in the small southwest Iowa city of Clarinda isn’t your typical real estate opportunity, and so far no one is rushing to move in. More than seven months after the state closed the Clarinda Mental Health Institute, much of the sprawling building remains empty, including entire floors that haven’t been used in decades.
February 1, 2016 Efforts continue to preserve other parts of former Peoria State Hospital grounds
- Christina Morris happily remembers Sunday morning breakfasts with her grandparents, followed by visits to the peaceful cemeteries on the grounds of the Peoria State Hospital, where some family members are buried. “My interest with the state hospital started when I was about 7 years old,” Morris said in a recent interview. “When I would come onto the grounds (my grandfather) would say that this was a place of special people. (By special) I thought he meant giants, because these buildings were so big and beautiful and immaculate to me. I just was enamored by how beautiful it was.”
January 7, 2016 That Time The United States Sterilized 60,000 Of Its Citizens
- Not too long ago, more than 60,000 people were sterilized in the United States based on eugenic laws. Most of these operations were performed before the 1960s in institutions for the so-called “mentally ill” or “mentally deficient.” In the early 20th century across the country, medical superintendents, legislators, and social reformers affiliated with an emerging eugenics movement joined forces to put sterilization laws on the books.
January, 6, 2016 Pa. hires firm to develop plan for Harrisburg State Hospital site
- Harrisburg, PA-The state has hired a Lancaster planning company to help it figure out what to do with the former Harrisburg State Hospital, which closed 10 years ago. Since closing in 2006, the hospital complex has housed state workers from the state police, Department of General Services and the Department of Human Services. It is now part of the larger DGS Annex property, which encompasses 303 acres across Harrisburg and Susquehanna Township.