Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 89, 1899

Shall We Erect Homes for Consumptives?


June 19, 1899 [typed]

This manuscript is published in entirety in 9MR 281-284.

Sanitariums that are erected for consumptive patients should be placed some distance out of the city, where there is plenty of open space, a clear stream, and land which can be cultivated. Then the patients can be drawn out into the fresh air, while those who are strong can cultivate the soil. The institutions built for consumptives which has not these accompaniments cannot benefit the patients. Such an institution Seventh-day Adventists are at the present time unable to maintain. 14LtMs, Ms 89, 1899, par. 1

The Lord has not laid upon our people the burden of erecting a sanitarium exclusively for consumptive patients. Large numbers of persons with this disease should not be gathered together in one home. Many who come to such institutions are hopeless invalids. Others have but faint hope of recovery. The very fact that there are kept before them daily those in the various stages of the disease, and that they are called upon to see their fellow sufferers wasting away before their eyes, is sufficient to destroy in them their last hope of recovery. In no case would I feel inclined to send a friend or relative to such a place. With these consumptives at the table coughing and spitting as so many do, who could retain their appetite for food? 14LtMs, Ms 89, 1899, par. 2

The very best talent is required in those who have charge of these homes, but no one person should be confined to this line of work for a long period at a time. It is not pleasant for persons to go to an institution where they are called upon to see daily those whose lives are gradually wasting away. The coughing and expectoration also is very objectionable. To place persons of tact and ability in such a place is to entail upon them a tax that might better come upon the relatives of the patient. 14LtMs, Ms 89, 1899, par. 3

I know what I am talking about; for my husband’s brother, Nathanael White, died of consumption in my home, also sister Annie White, and the foreman of our printing office in Rochester, New York. I could not bring on these the painful experience of being separated from their family, and placed in a home with a large number of consumptives. I placed them where they would be comfortable, and where they could receive the attention of their friends to the last. Every precaution can be taken when one in a family is afflicted with this disease, and his friends can give him loving attention and watch care. But separate him from his home, and he is painfully conscious of the cause. And the sight of the sick and the dying around him hastens his life to its close. 14LtMs, Ms 89, 1899, par. 4

When you come to number those who have money who would be willing patients, you would find that there would be few who would patronize a home for consumptives. The fewer consumptives a person attacked with this disease is required to associate with, the better it is for him in every way. The number of poisoned breaths brought together in one place not only hastens the course of disease in the patients, but entails death upon those who care for them. 14LtMs, Ms 89, 1899, par. 5

I never supposed that an institution was to be built by our people exclusively for consumptives. Some with throat and lung trouble would be benefited by treatment, but there are many who would receive no help in such an institution. The fact that such an institution means a constant outlay of money, with no hope of returns, must be considered. If a home for consumptives is to be established, let it be near streams of living water, away from the city, near forests of pine and hemlock; for there are healing properties in them. Then publish the fact that such an institution has been established and call for volunteers to carry on the work. As the sanitarium in Colorado has been established, let it be appropriated to the use of those who are sick and who have some hope of recovery. 14LtMs, Ms 89, 1899, par. 6

We are to be awake to the necessity of suffering humanity, but it would be no mercy to sacrifice lives to the special work of treating consumptives. I have not one word to give in encouragement of this. It may be necessary to provide a place where patients who are dying of consumption can be cared for, but such a building should not be placed in the city, but isolated from the city. Let all who are troubled in regard to this question remember that it means much to impress upon individuals that it is their duty to take charge of an institution for consumptives. Persons may come to such an institution who are said to have consumption, but who are really suffering from stomach trouble. If these associate with consumptive patients, they will certainly contract the same disease, for they have lost the power to resist the effects of any exposure. 14LtMs, Ms 89, 1899, par. 7

I would not, could not, from the light I have, encourage our people to build up an institution for consumptives, or to take charge of such an institution. There are many others suffering from various diseases who could be treated with some hope of saving life. As far as possible, I would dispose of consumptives in their own homes, to be care for by their friends, whose duty it is to do this. Let those who can, aid these friends with means and religious counsel. But is it not a hopeless task to appoint any one to care for a large number of consumptives? The same care thus extended could be employed in behalf of patients whose lives would be preserved. Thus many would learn of the truth. Those going from the institution would impart that which they have received, and many lives would be dedicated to the work of saving souls. 14LtMs, Ms 89, 1899, par. 8