Governor John S. Battle and Advisors Visiting Hospital Wards
Online; Still Image
Uva Medical Alumni News Letter
This image was on the cover of the October, 1953 issue of the Medical Alumni News Letter, titled "State Budget Time And the Hospital Pleads Again." The relevant article, entitled "The Hospital: Request for State Money And How Can Alumni Help," reads (in part): "For the fourth consecutive meeting of the Virginia General Assembly in a period of eight years, officials and alumni of the University's Medical Center will plead with the State to pull the University Hospital out of its fire-hazardous, inefficient, money-consuming conidtion and make of it a center that can handle properly its expanded patient load and its medical educational role in the State. President Darden, fearful of a catastrophic fire that could wipe out everything and concerned with the high cost of maintaining antiquated hospital buildings which year after year frustrates plans for educational development in other deserving departments of the University, is wholeheartedly leading the request for State appropriations. Aiding the University's President, deans and alumni, will be a number of prominent non-alumni doctors, Virginia businessmen and lawyers from every section of the State who recognize that the request of the University Hospital is not a local project of a 'pork barrel' nature...but an essential need affecting every person in the State who might be referred to the Hospital for treatment of a difficult problem which could not be handled in his home town.... Formal request that the appropriation be made a part of the Governor's Budget was put to Governor Battle and members of his Advisory Budget Commission when they visited the Hospital on September twenty-fifth. The group of friends of the Hospital, assisting Medical Alumni President V. W. Archer, Dean T. H. Hunter, Assistant Dean H. B. Mulholland and Hospital Director John M. Stacey in presenting the need, made what many believe to be the strongest appeal ever to come from the Hospital-Medical School. Describing the Hospital's three main functions...as a laboratory for medical students in the clinical years; as a reference center for difficult cases from every section of the State; and as a general hospital to provide care for the indigent in the local area...members of the group urged the budget planners to understand that the appropriation is 'essential to the growth, essential to the very continuation of the medical school.' 'Physical faculties are not only inadequate, but at best the whole situation is unfair to the people of Virginia' who rely on the University as a medical center, said Mr. [P.] Hazelgrove [Staunton lawyer]. Unless improvements are made the school will lose its 'great collection of medical talent, its prestige and reputation.' Others brought out that though the pre-clinical laboratories are equipped to handle an increased number of students, the hospital facilities prevent additions for the clinical years of study and prevent development of postgraduate teacing of Virginia doctors who wish to come to the clinics to study. Dr. [Alex F.] Roberston [of Staunton] stressed that the hospital equipment was in 'deplorable' condition -- worse than any State medical school he knew of. Fire hazards amount to 'a terrible condition we shouldn't allow to exist,' said Mr. [J. B.] Woodward [President of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Newport News], pointing out that such conditions wouldn't be tolerated in a business firm. 'With all these helpless people, a fire here would cause a real tragedy.' Justice [C. Vernon] Spratley [of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, of Hampton], emphasizing the seriousness of conditions, said a 'real sense of duty' led him to journey from Hampton to Charlottesville to add his voice to appeals for the Hosptial appropriation. It is highly important to correct conditions in the overcrowded Negro wards -- or else critics of segregation would raise the cry of discrimination -- Mr. Darden answered Governor Battle's questions about the Negro facilities. 'We are doing the best we can for our Negro patients under circumstances that are almost intolerable,' Mr. Darden said. 'They receive the best treatment, equal to that given any other patient, but the physical conditions in Negro Wards are fearfully poor. 'The State deserves to do better for them, and the Negro people deserve better from those controlling the State's political destinies...We are not doing what in good conscience ought to be done.' ....Backing up their words with a 'see for yourself' tour, officials and friends of the University escorted the budget planners through the 50-year old wings of the Hospital. They pointed out evidence of delapidation, danger and inefficiency...the overcrowded wards where some patients have to be bedded in narrow, dark corridors...nursing stations crowded into halls along with storage of clean and soiled laundry...high cost of housekeeping intensified by problems of rodent and insect control, cleaning of exposed pipes...overloaded electrical installations...inadequate number of fire exits...food serving stations which have been crowded into halls where employees, patients and visitors pass continually...limited isolation areas for nursery and obstetrical suites...health hazards risked because surgical suite is bisected by main public corridors and tuberculosis patients are often cared for on open wards...overcrowding of out-patient department which was designed for 90 patients per day and now handles as many as 325...lack of central location for ancillary services...high c ost of transporting patients to X-ray...danger to patients caused by long distances that must be traveled from service to service...dangers presented by obsolete elevators...high cost of transporting food, laundry and supplies from loading stations to wards...high cost of maintenace of old buildings which have settled, casuing plaster on walls to break and fall, masonry to continually come loose, roof to need constant repairs, floors to break...inflexibility of wards to care for an expanded patient load which has increased from 65,441 days care in 1933 to 143,210 in 1952.... The first of three tours of the Hospital for members of the Virginia General Assembly was held October eighth. Other tours will follow on October twenty-second and November nineteenth in accordance with a plan which requires assemblymen to visit all State institutions."