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Conquering Consumption with Exercise and Nature

By David Thomas

Conquering Consumption with Exercise and Nature Cover Image

A story of Mount Vernon hospital, in London, by doctor DJB Thomas, a former physician at the facility. There is particular focus upon the treatment of tuberculosis consumption there, including many unique historical photographs.

When Charles Dunnell Rudd, a wealthy “cape merchant”, lost his mother to the disease he became determined to combat tuberculosis. Rudd anonymously purchased land at Northwood, Middlesex to create a sanatorium for the treatment of consumption at Mount Vernon hospital. As it had been shown that consumptive patients survived longer when nursed on high ground land near to forests, Rudd considered this to be a prime location for treatment of tuberculosis. The considerable financial investment from Charles Rudd was therefore instrumental in developing Mount Vernon hospital and the sanatoria.

Another prominent figure in the history of the hospital was Princess Christian, the third daughter of Queen Victoria. She had a marked social awareness for the less fortunate in 19th century London society. Princess Christian was very hard working and became the principal patron for Mount Vernon hospital, donating money and attending annual fundraising festival dinners. Additionally the royal profile and support of Princess Christian was invaluable publicity for the cause and did much to improve treatment of tuberculosis at the sanatorium.

As well as a detailed history of Mount Vernon hospital, the book shows many historical photographs and illustrations of the sanatorium, patients and staff throughout the years. There are pictures of female patients walking around the grounds and occupying designated rest shelters. The male patients had a more vigorous lifestyle, and there are pictures of them working in the gardens and sleeping in their beds outside included. Also there are multiple photographs of patients recovering in the sanatorium and even acquiring useful new skills to enhance their future employment prospects after release.

Medical history shows that tuberculosis has been the deadliest and most common disease of all time. When Mount Vernon hospital was formed there was no organised healthcare system in Great Britain and funding for sanatoria depended upon individual or charitable investment. After Koch discovered the tubercle bacillus, effective curative anti-tuberculous therapy evolved, but the psychological support supplied by sanatoria was probably just as important to the patients.

Paperback ISBN: 9781784565442

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