Housewives, Breadwinners, and Students: Patient Trends at the Nova Scotia Sanatorium, 1904-1969

Courtney Mrazek, Mount Allison University

In the mid-twentieth century and onwards, with the exceptions of epidemics, public health concerns largely focused on chronic diseases. Before this transition, infectious diseases were the leading causes of death, and as such, public health initiatives focused on infectious disease prevention and control in North America. The early-twentieth century is a historical period that straddles several large-scale societal and cultural shifts that significantly alters medical interactions: who provided medical attention, how it was financed, and where and how caregiving and healthcare were experienced. It was also a critical time for changes in patient demographics. Examining specific institutions over the course of their operations provides a micro case study that magnifies these important changes over time. The Nova Scotia Sanatorium (NSS), an institution that operated between the early-to-mid twentieth century, is an ideal case study to examine and contextualize changing patient demographics in the war against tuberculosis. Throughout its operations the NSS based its daily per diem rates on its economic needs and balanced it in accordance with sanatoria rates across North America. Changing views on scientific medicine, healthcare, and medical professionalization presented hospitals, rather than homes, as the ideal spaces to receive care. This extended to treating tuberculosis in specialized hospitals known as sanatoria. During its life, economic and social realities at the NSS drew in particular patients at different times. The sanatorium was provincially-run and was required to submit annual reports to the Nova Scotia Legislature each year, which was then printed in the following year’s House of Assembly Journal. After the sanatorium closed, its records were donated to the Acadia University Archives. Using patient data from the NSS annual reports and the NSS fond at Acadia, this article presents the NSS as a case study to discuss patient demographic trends in Canadian sanatoria in the twentieth century.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 75. Health in Institutional Settings