Spanish Military Hospital Museum
3 Aviles Street, Saint Augustine, FL, USA
www.spanishmilitaryhospital.… - 800-597-7177 / 904-827-0807
Spanish Military Hospital Museum Saint Augustine Reviews
Experience Military Hospital life in 1791 Mar 22, 2010
If you are in St Augustine you should check into the Spanish Military Hospital. Here you will be amazed by the advanced medical practices of the Spanish colonial times.
The house was originally built as a stable, but was turned into a hospital during the Second Spanish Colonial Period, 1784-1821.
Since it was a military hospital women and children were not allowed inside. Except one room, the Mourning room. Most of the patients in this hospital made it to full recovery, but those who did not would end their days in this room. The priest would come for the last confession. Then measures were taken and a coffin made. Because of Florida´s warm climate it was all done in 24 hours.
From the Mourning room you continue to the Surgeon´s Office. Old surgical instruments are displayed on his desk. They look very scary, but were quite advanced in 1791. Our great and knowledgeable guide explained how the surgeon preformed amputations, fixed head injuries as well as pulling out bullets from the soldiers bodies. Back then there were no anesthetics, no pain killer nor alcohol. The surgeons had already learned that alcohol thinners the blood and therefore the patients were not allowed to drink alcohol before a surgery. Can´t imagine the the pain they must have felt. Hopefully they pasted out through the worst part of the surgery. Amputations were done in 2-3 minutes. It was a competition among the surgeons who was the fastest. If I had to amputate a limb without any anesthetics I would want it to happen fast too. The Spanish surgeons were quite advanced back then. Even today they use the same method to ease pressure in the brain with head injuries, they just use more modern tools today.
The next room is the Ward room. There were strict regulations on the medical care in this hospital. In 1791 more patients survived here than in an American hospital in 1891. The Spanish had very early understood how important hygiene was. Every patient had their own bed, their own sheets, their own chamber pot and their own plate and cup. The beds were also placed a bit apart.
Not like in an American hospital where the beds were together. A patient with chicken pox, one with an amputated leg and one with the measles would be placed next to each other. The result would be that the guy with the chicken pox got the measles, the guy with the measles got the chicken pox and the poor guy with the amputated leg got both.
In the Apothecary you can see some of the herbs from which the hospital made its own medicines. Some worked and some did not. The staff members here were the only once allowed to dispense medicines. If you exit through the back door you can see the hospitals herb garden.
In the last room medical instruments from the time of the hospital are displayed.
If you join the Ghost tour at night they will tell you that the amputated limbs were thrown out into the gutter outside the hospital and that the hands would grab your ankles, but this is not true. Being a catholic hospital, all these limbs had to be buried in consecrated ground, which they were at the cemetery.
The Spanish Military Hospital Museum is a small museum and it does not take long to walk through it, but it is absolutely worth a visit.
Opening hours are:
Monday - Saturday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Tickets are $5 for adults.
Part of the Saint Agustine, Florida travel blog
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