them—in other people's houses—wrinkled prematurely, thinned out by temper, contrary by nature, or for the most part fattened in the course of their (to them) useful career, complacent, and drowsy while everything was going well, incompetent and snappish when danger required work and sufficiency, always ready to have their regular meals served up-stairs by the help of the house, who breathed freely when they finally left, and always willing to spend their time between rocking a baby, speaking of their long experience, sleeping ten hours, talking gossip all day long, and drinking eleven cups of coffee in the twenty-four hours. This is hardly an exaggeration, for the number of women who took up nursing as a business, driven to it by some natural disposition, gifted with some intellect, modest and willing to profit by superior knowledge and experience, interested in the welfare of their patients, and never stunted in their human feelings by the force of habit, was rather small. But I am glad to say I knew such, too. I gladly shook their hands when I happened to meet them on a common errand, gladly recognizing the diploma they carried in their brains and hearts. But these exceptions proved the rule, and the rule conveyed no blessing. It was, it is, a sad fact that nursing all over the world grew worse in just the same time when medical science grew more exact and medical practice more effective.
Relief in this city came none too soon. The president has detailed to you the history of the training-schools of New York. Since their time the practice in hospitals and in private dwellings has changed wonderfully. After thirty years' work in the city, after twenty-five years' constant labor in public institutions, I ought to know the difference. And I do know and publicly proclaim that the results of the best of physicians have vastly improved since their cases have been in the hands of trained nurses. This is so in private dwellings; it is the same in hospitals. In the hospitals the difference can be measured on a large scale. In them the trained nurse has worked a vast improvement.
Every large hospital ought to perform a double duty. It must give the poor patient, and many rich also, the best possible chance of recovery from sickness. It can afford to accomplish that, because of its pecuniary and intellectual means. Though a hospital be poor, there ought to be, there generally are, means enough to fill all the necessities required. And the intellectual means are expected, are supposed to be, above the average of the general practitioner. There are a great many reasons why that should be so, why hospital places should be open for the competition of the best material among the medical profession, recognized to be the best by the medical profession itself, and why family and personal influence should not fill places which are better not filled at all than with indifferent or bad material. A hospital must also grant the best possible nursing—attached, wakeful, careful. All this is due to the single patients.
A good deal more, however, is due to the public at large. A hos-