30 November 2012

A Marine Hospital In Detroit

The marine hospital at Detroit, Mich., was authorized by Act of Congress, Aug 4, 1854. The same act appropriation for the construction of marine at Burlington, Iowa, Pensacola, Fla., and for the second hospital at New Orleans. Source

The marine hospital at Detroit is a three-story and basement solid brick building, constructed somewhat after the Mills style of architecture, except that the ground plan is in the shape of the letter T instead of H, and differs in this respect from all or nearly all other marine hospitals the plans of which were drawn by Robert Mills, architect, in the year 1837, and followed by the government, without material change, for a period of about thirty years... .  Source

"The grounds, consisting of eight acres on the southwest corner of Jefferson and Mt. Elliott Avenues, with a frontage of two hundred and seventy-four feet on Jefferson Avenue, cost $23,000; the building cost $80,000, and was opened on November 30, 1857. Nearly twenty patients were then transferred from St. Mary's Hospital to this institution." Source

This site explained the background of the marine hospital system.

"In response to the plight of injured and infirm seamen, the United States Congress established in 1798 a system of marine hospitals for seamen in the trans- and inter-ocean trade. It was not until 1843, however, that they extended protection to the coasting trade, which included the Great Lakes."

"Ironically, the marine hospital system required seamen to relinquish part of their already meager wages as premiums to qualify for medical services. These "hospital dues," as they were often termed, amounted to twenty cents per month beginning in 1843."

Zina Pitcher was chief surgeon at the Marine Hospital from 1857-61.

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