On 9th April the International Network for the History of Hospitals (INHH) held their biennial conference in Dubrovnik on the theme ‘Segregation and Integration’. Home to some of the world’s first quarantine institutions, Croatia was suited to this theme. On this occasion, which saw two dozen presentations on institutions from the medieval to the modern period, I delivered a paper on the emergence of burns units in the UK, c. 1845 – 1950.
The photo shows quarantine provision outside the city walls.
Burns patients, like other cases thought to be contagious or disruptive to hospital wards over the last two centuries, were segregated in their own wards, and eventually their own units, as early as 1845 in Edinburgh. Their treatment was, however, complicated, with severe burns potentially disrupting numerous bodily systems and their treatment involving a variety of experts. As such, despite their segregation, burns patients received very early and comprehensive integrated care from teams of specialists, beginning with dermatologists in the 1850s and ’60s, but also cardiologists, renal specialists, and not least, surgeons and psychiatrists in the 20th century.
The paper will be included in an edited volume, which the INHH regularly produces following its meetings. As a member of the INHH Executive Committee, my role also extends to planning future events and activities, and our free time in Dubrovnik was productive in securing the venue for the next event in 2017, when we shall meet in Malta; a theme has yet to be confirmed.
The INHH website is at https://inhh1.wordpress.com/