Caring in time of epidemic

Etienne Plamondon Emond

Special Collaboration

May 16, 2020

Soignantes en temps d’épidémie

Archives of RHSJM
The room ” Saint-Patrice Hotel-Dieu of Montreal, after 1888

This text is part of the special culture in your living room

The Musée des Hospitalières de l’hôtel-Dieu de Montréal offers the point of view of the carers, first hand, of the multiple epidemics that had crossed the metropolis.

The text of a caregiver, who has worked at the hospital of infected persons, circulates through social media. He expresses his distress during this epidemic… of 1734. One of the Hospitallers of the Hôtel-Dieu of Montreal recounted his experience when Montreal was hit by what was called the ” fever bug “. Difficult to determine the exact nature of this disease, but its contagion was certainly deadly. “We were in a total abandonment, a person,with reason, not daring to approach us,” she wrote. “Everyone was so afraid of us and of all that was we be affected as the disease itself. “

The Museum of the Hospitallers of the Hôtel-Dieu of Montreal had the idea to share the excerpt on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram. “I thought that there was a lot of resemblance with the situation in which we live today,” says Charlotte Moreau de la Fuente, officer education and cultural programming of the museum, which has put online this passage. She has also written a series of capsules recalling how these nuns lived at the front, the different outbreaks that have punctuated the history of the metropolis, of the “fever bug” of 1734 to the ‘Spanish’ influenza of 1918. These have been on the front line when smallpox has killed 3000 Montreal in 1885. The Hotel-God has revealed himself in the epicenter of the epidemic after hosting a prime driver of train infected, and nearly 4000 other patients in its 250 beds.

To write these capsules, Charlotte Moreau de la Fuente was able to review the rich record held by the Hospital since the Seventeenth century. “It is exciting to have access to the archives and be able to read what the Hospital felt “, she says. “In 1918, for example, the Hotel-God is going to lose a doctor. Just in the way of writing, it appears that they are in grief and are disturbed. “Even the information on the admissions, deaths, and holidays that they colligeaient each day allow you to determine down the peaks of the different epidemics.

“The Hotel-there is a God since the very beginning in 1642, so this may be the only place in Montreal that has undergone all health crises,recalls Paul Labonne, executive director of the Museum of the Hospital. With the benefit of hindsight, we is able to see how Montreal was able to manage, and to contain epidemics through time. “An outstanding resource in these times of pandemic, during which review the history of health care seems more apropos than ever.

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