Medical Treatment on Board


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Melissa E. Kalson

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Hello all.. I know that Dr. O'Loughlin was the chief surgeon on board and I believe that he had an assistant, Dr. Simpson (tell me if I'm wrong on that point). But I was wondering did they have nurses as well and what could be done if someone were to need serious medical attention? Thanks in advance.. Sincerely, Melissa K.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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You're not wrong. Click on Dr. John Edward Simpson for more on him.

As far as I know, there were no nurses aboard, though I suspect a stewardess could have been drafted for the duty if needed. If sombody needed serious medical attention, they would simply have to do their best with whatever they had on hand. There was no such thing as a medevac by helicoptor then and another ship would not be likely to be better equipped. There would be no realistic possibility of getting somebody off to hospital until the ship made port.
 

Chris Dohany

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Jan 8, 2001
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There was also a hospital attendant, William Dunford. He signed the ship's documents with the 3rd class stewards - perhaps indicating he was stationed in that section.
 
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Melissa E. Kalson

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Thanks Michael & Chris.. Appreciate the info. Sincerely, Melissa K.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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There was a crew hospital facility in the forecastle (C deck), and another one for 3rd class in the stern (D deck). First class stewardess Evelyn Marsden doubled up as a nurse. Titanic International Society journal Voyage 34 has an article that deals with the medical facilities aboard Titanic.

Daniel.
 
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João Carlos Pereira Martins

Guest
If a passenger needed treatment during the night, would the crew call the surgeon? I mean, the hospital's staff was available twenty four hours a day?

Regards, João
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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The hospital was a provision for 3rd Class/steerage passengers, as required by law. Its staff consisted of just one attendant, who was a steward rather than a nurse and had no formal medical qualifications. He wasn't expected to work 24 hours a day, but he slept in a cabin inside the hospital area and would have responded to urgent calls for help at any time and alerted a surgeon if necessary. He generally didn't have much to do, as the hospital was often unoccupied. 1st and 2nd Class passengers expected to receive medical attention in their own cabins, during the night if necessary, but most would have been considerate enough not to disturb a surgeon's sleep for a very trivial reason.
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Mar 22, 2003
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In those days doctors made house calls to the sick. I remember when I was a young lad in the 1950s and got sick the doctor with his little black bag came to where we lived all the time. I knew what that meant when he showed up. If I was sick enough for him to come top our place it meant I was bound to get a shot 9 out 10 times. (I'm sure the needles were a lot bigger back then too.) We only went to the doctor's office for regularly scheduled check ups like once a year. So on the Titanic the doctor would make stateroom and cabin calls if needed for 1st and 2nd classs. Bob, was 3rd class expected to go to the hospital on board for all cases?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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There was a surgery with waiting room off the main 3rd Class stairway on D deck, where the 'walking wounded' could see a doctor at certain times of day. But those few (if any) who were bedridden and in need of regular attention, and certainly those who might be suffering from something contagious, were consigned to the hospital. The surgeons had the advantage that their 'rounds' were thus a lot shorter, and the ailing passenger would benefit from more space, light and air and and better toilet and washing facilities, with even a bath available for those who felt so inclined (possibly not many!)
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I notice from the plans of the ship that the hospital had two parts, one for infectious patients, the other for everyone else. This was on D deck starboard side just forward of the 2nd class dinning saloon. There was also a surgery room and waiting in 3rd class on D deck by the 3rd class stairway aft. There was also a surgery room and small hospital for the crew under forecastle on C deck forward. Any place else I may have missed for medical care?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Yes, the main surgery (dispensary) on C deck, above the hospital and close to the surgeons' cabins. That's where actual surgery was performed if necessary. The large dotted rectangle you can see on the plan was a glass-topped operating table - the best available option for minimising the risk of secondary infection, and uncommon even in large hospitals because they were very expensive.
 
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João Carlos Pereira Martins

Guest
Thanks everyone for your detailed answers. Very pleased.

Best regards, João
 

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