The Condition of the Hospices: The physical environment
was cold, dirty, and overcrowded. The conditions within the hospices
were not good. The authorities for the most part were more concerned
with finance than the welfare of the children. For example, in 1830
in St. Vincent-de-Paul, there were three sister and eleven nurse's
aids in the nursery for anywhere between eighty and one hundred
and fifty infants. In theory, each wet nurse
cared only for one newborn. However due to the lack of wet nurse,
there were usually four or five newborns to each wet nurse while
in the hospice. This was one of the reasons ,many of the babies
did not receive breast milk at all or on a regular basis. The other
reasons included the fear that the majority of the infants carried
syphilis. To deal with this problem, the authorities along with
doctors developed a means of artificially feeding
them. This consisted of cows and goats milk. However, the milk often
sat out in the open with no lid for days on end; thus obtaining
a large amount of germ and bacteria. Dr. Hutinel described this
after a visit to a hospice as, " contained in large jars, exposed
to all dust, rested in an office situated in the center of the rooms,
where from morning to night, it was contaminated by germs that dry
sweeping would raise up several times a day" ( Fuchs 137).
Due to the unsanitary conditions, one half of the infants died
in the hospice before their first year. In short, "the best-run
foundling houses were giant warehouses where infants suffered and
died in the most miserable circumstances" (DuBay).
Hygiene: Since there were very few workers in the hospice,
the personal hygiene of the infants and older children was poor.
Often the laundry was not done frequently, this included the diapers
and bedding. Often children would rewear dried dirty diapers, and
stay in the same bedding that had been soiled for days on end. This
lead to the rapid spread of fatal illnesses and diseases.
Attention: The lack of attention given to the children was
partly in effect because of the high child adult ratio. However,
it also must be remembered that the knowledge on the importance
of physical contact and stimulation at a young age was not known.
The only times children were generally handled while in the hospice
was when being transferred, inspected, or feed (Fuchs 180).
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