Ohio Hospital For Epileptics


The Ohio Hospital for Epileptics at Gallipolis is the pioneer of its kind in the United States.

The problem of providing proper accommodations for epileptics, especially for those with unsound or defective minds, has engrossed the attention of persons interested in nervous and mental diseases for many years. In Ohio, as far back as 1879, a bill for the establishment of a separate institution for their accommodation and treatment almost became a law, passing one branch of the legislature. Not, however, until 1890 was a law enacted providing for the establishment of a hospital for epileptics and epileptic insane. All epileptics resident in Ohio are eligible for admission to this institution, up to the measure of its capacity, each county being entitled to a number proportionate to its population. No discrimination is made on account of mental condition, age or sex.

The buildings, as originally planned, consisted of stone cottages having a capacity of fifty beds each, located symmetrically about a group of executive buildings and connected by tunnels with a central powerhouse, which was to furnish heat and light for all, and a central kitchen and bakery, flanked by two congregate dining-rooms, one for each sex. The whole group, with estimated accommodations for one thousand patients, was planned so compactly as to cover scarcely more than twenty-five acres, leaving the balance of one hundred acres of the original tract for ornamentation and gardens. The wisdom of this plan was seriously questioned, and subsequent experience and events have led to an entire modification of it, so far as practicable. Of the original thirty-six buildings, only thirteen have been built as designed. The location and design of six others, now nearly completed, have been materially changed. One hundred and twenty-five additional acres of land have been purchased and a cottage for the insane constructed at a distance of one-half mile from the original group. Other buildings, projected for the future, are to be much farther away, their precise location depending upon the possibilities in the selection and purchase of land, which may or may not adjoin the tract now owned by the state.

A tract of 110 acres of farm land has recently been purchased, on which a group of cottages will be erected, and in which the husbandmen among the male patients will be accommodated. This land adjoins the sewage-disposal beds of the Hospital, and it is intended to utilize the sewage for fertilizing the farm. It is purposed to expand the institution in the future by erecting small, homelike cottages for small and selected groups of patients, leaving the large central cottages with their common kitchen and congregate dining rooms for the accommodation of more advanced cases of epilepsy and for the infirmary class of inmates. A new style of architecture has been decided upon, by which it is believed the monotony of the present symmetrical groups of large stone cottages can be relieved.

A board of construction was appointed in 1890, which consisted of James E. Neal, of Hamilton; John E. Vance, of Gallipolis; George H. Bunnell, of Sidney; Lewis Slusser, of Canton.

The hospital was opened for the reception of patients, November 30, 1893. Six more cottages have since been erected, and when the buildings now in course of construction are completed, which will be during the present year (1901), accommodations will have been made for 1,060 patients. The buildings will then consist of thirteen residence cottages with from fifty to seventy-six beds each; one laundry cottage for seventy-five patients; one cottage for the insane, with a capacity of 200; one schoolhouse; two industrial buildings, each containing eight large, well-lighted and well-ventilated rooms, accommodating twenty five patients each - in many of the manual industries commonly followed; one kitchen and bakery building; one ice machine and cold storage building, with a capacity of eighteen tons daily; two large congregate dining-rooms; one boiler, power, and electric light building; one waterworks building; one hospital building, accommodating sixty, and one administration building. The cost of the buildings up to the time when those under way shall have been completed, will be $565,000.

A pathological laboratory in which researches into the nature, cause, and prevention of epilepsy are carried forward, has been a feature of this institution for the past five years. Through the scientific studies pursued in this laboratory and published to the medical profession, the Ohio Hospital for Epileptics has achieved international fame. The medical profession of Ohio, and of the United States, is deeply interested in seeing this important work encouraged and properly supported, since it is realized that by this method alone can the mysteries as to the nature, cause, treatment and prevention of epilepsy be solved. The investigations already pursued by the scientific staff in this laboratory have already disclosed some very important facts relative to the cause and prevention of epilepsy.

Many of the patients came from almshouses, many from the lower walks of life, and were uncouth in their manners and dress, filthy in their habits, and rude in their conversation. The improvement most noticed by visitors has been the wonderful change in their deportment.

Source: "The Biographical Annals of Ohio, A Handbook of the Government and Institutions of the State of Ohio", compiled under authority of the Act of May 12, 1902. This book is a revised and enlarged edition of "Ohio Statesmen and Hundred Year Book", by Col. W. A. Taylor, copyright 1892. (pages 878 and 879)

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