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Eleventh Report Of The Managers Of The State Lunatic Asylum Of The State Of New-York

Creator: n/a
Date: October 1854
Publication: American Journal of Insanity
Source: Available at selected libraries


The report of this institution, from the number of its patients, and the interesting results to be deduced from its statistics, must always commend public attention.


Males. Females. Total.
Number of patients remaining at date of last report, 215 210 425
Admitted during the year, 251 173 424
Whole number treated, 466 383 849
Discharged recovered, 92 74 169
Discharged much improved, 11 10 21
Discharged improved, 26 19 45
Discharged unimproved, 76 53 129
Died, 19 20 39
227 176 403
Remaining November, 30, 1853, 239 207 446
Average number resident during the year, 423


"The number of admissions has been greater by thirty-four than last year -- fifty-one more men and twenty-seven less women. The number of males admitted has exceeded that of any previous year in the history of the institution. The diminished number of females was owing to the progress of improvements hereafter to be mentioned.


"Notwithstanding the large number received, sixty applications were refused; and the refusals would doubtless have been augmented, had not certain parts of the State become acquainted with our condition, and treated many of the insane in county houses, who otherwise would have been sent to the Asylum. No patients of the pauper or indigent classes were refused, although admission was sometimes delayed. The numerous applications for the admission of urgent cases compelled us to require the removal of many public and private patients, whom a wise economy, both as regarded counties and friends, would otherwise have detained here. Sonic returned to their families, others to county houses, and a few, after repeated efforts, were enabled to gain admission to institutions in other States. Forty-seven were thus discharged, each one of whom being equivalent to a refusal, makes a total of one hundred and seven persons for whom we have been unable to afford accommodation.


"The removal of the insane to county houses must always be a source of regret, especially while partial reason remains. Some of those sent away were harmless, helpless creatures, requiring great care and constant watchfulness, more than could possibly be given them in ordinary county houses. Others were noisy, furious persons, who in a well-regulated Asylum could be made tolerably comfortable, and cared for without restraint or seclusion, but in a poor-house would be doomed to both most of the time. In some of these, habits of industry and cleanliness had been acquired, and were practiced mechanically, while under the vigilant supervision of responsible attendants, but which would soon be given up when left to themselves and the surveillance generally exercised in poor-houses.


"It is always sad to see these cases go, and feel the certainty of the fate before them; still it is necessary, and must be continued until adequate accommodations are provided for all the insane. They must be removed in order to make room for recent cases constantly pressing for admission. This, we say, is necessary in the existing state of affairs, but it cannot be considered expedient in economy or sound in principle.


"This important subject has been alluded to in the reports since 1848. Then Dr. Brigham found it necessary to send away unpromising cases, and the necessity has steadily increased. We are happy to state that many county officers plead for the prolonged residence of patients while there is any hope of improvement. This pleasing fact shows that public opinion is in favor of that enlightened policy which can perceive error in placing insane, diseased persons in houses erected only for the care of the poor, and that it is trespassing upon the rights of both these unfortunate classes to place them thus indiscriminately together. The insane are so much given up to their tempers and passions as to render them unsuitable for association with the ordinary inmates of county houses, who too frequently are unable to govern themselves in the same respects. Should it not be considered a principle in political economy and morals, as it is in medicine, that all the insane require treatment in special establishments? The erection of another asylum was mentioned in the last annual report, and recommended by his Excellency Governor Seymour, in his annual message, January, 1853."


We give this year the statistics of the Asylum from its opening, January 16, 1843, to December 1, 1854:â

Total number of admissions 3,923
Total number of discharges 3,477
Total number of discharged recovered 1,625
Total number of discharged much improved 55
Total number of discharged improved 598
Total number of discharged unimproved 753
Total number of died 446


The following table, showing the percentage of recoveries on the average population, and the admissions of each year, is valuable:â

Year. Average population. Recovered. Percentage Admitted. Recover'd Percentage.
1843 109 53 48.62 276 53 19.20
1844 236 132 55.93 275 132 48.80
1845 265 135 50.94 293 135 46.07
1846 283 133 46.99 237 133 39.46
1847 415 187 45.06 428 187 43.69
1848 474 174 36.70 405 174 42.96
1849 454 203 44.71 362 203 56.07
1850 433 171 39.49 367 171 46.59
1851 440 112 25.45 366 112 30.60
1852 441 156 35.37 390 156 40.00
1853 423 169 39.95 424 169 39.85


The plan for warming and ventilating the building by steam, recommended in the report of last year, was adopted, and the description of the work occupies several pages of the document before us. The work upon one-half of the house was commenced early in the spring, and occupied the entire season. The construction of the air chambers in the basement by the removal of the cross walls, and the cutting down and rebuilding the corridor wails for the waffling and ventilating flues, was attended with great difficulty and expense. The new building erected is thus described:


"The boiler house, constructed especially for this purpose, and placed in the rear of the Asylum buildings, at a distance of one hundred feet from them, is one hundred and thirty feet long by forty wide, built of brick, two stories high, with slate roof. The first floor is divided into four apartments; one for the blowers, one for a wash house, one for an engine room, in which is placed a thirty-horse power beam engine, fourteen-inch cylinder, and four-feet stroke, for pumping water, driving the blowers, and for propelling the washing machinery, and a boiler room forty feet square, in which are set the two drop flue boilers, eight feet in diameter and twenty-six feet long. The boiler flues are twelve inches in diameter, placed in three ranges, six flues in each range; thus carrying the heat three times through the boiler, thence passing along the under surface of the boiler, giving to each boiler fifteen hundred feet of fire surface. The boilers connect with the chimney stack by an under-ground flue, three feet six inches in diameter. The chimney is one hundred feet high, in shape of a gently tapering octagon, ten feet in diameter at the bottom, built of brick, resting on a granite base. The smoke flue in the chimney is three feet six inches in diameter, rising sixty feet, surrounded by an air space for ventilation of the rear buildings. The boilers send off their steam by a ten inch main, and the condensed water returns by a four-inch main, and is raised by a steam pump into the boiler."


The steam from the boilers, above described, passes through the main pipe to the building, and is distributed to the radiating coils in the air chambers, over which a current of air is forced by a large fan-wheel driven by a steam engine. In cold weather it is thus warmed before it enters the patients' apartments; in summer it becomes cooled on its way through the large under-ground passage between the engine-house and main building, and passes into the rooms at a lower temperature than the external atmosphere. The foul air escapes through ventilating flues equal in size to those for the admission of pure air. These terminate in a common trunk in the attic, having its external opening at the cupola. A fan, worked in such a manner, must prove the most reliable means of ventilation yet adopted.


The remainder of the report is filled with the usual details in reference to the shops, farm and garden, with numerous acknowledgments for donations to the library and green-house.