February 17, 1909
The lower house on the council last night named Alderman W. P. Woolf, C. J. Gilman and J. G. Lapp to a committee to investigate charges of inhumane treatment towards patients at the new general hospital.
The investigation was made upon the request of Alderman Darious Brown, who read a number of affidavits said to have been signed by patients.
Alderman Miles Bulger openly asserted that the move was a political one to embarrass the administration.
"I do not believe that Alderman Brown is any more sincere in this than he has been with his moves for a gas pressure regulation," declared Bulger.
Alderman brown denied with emphasis the charge of insincerity in wanting the alleged cruelties investigated. He added that it was impossible for him to believe that the prominent men comprising the health and hospital board would want such aspersions cast upon their management of the institution without having to falsity or correctness of them established.
Affidavits outlining complaints of patients who claimed to have been abused were read by Mr. Brown.
F. A. Wolf, 4237 Tracy, was taken to the hospital December 1, he affirmed, suffering from a nervous complaint, but declares the house physicians said he had a hernia and should be operated on. He says he fought being taken to the operating room and succeeded in escaping an operation until his wife could be communicated with. She called Dr. Charles E. Allen, the family physician, and Wolf was removed to Wesley hospital.
Wolf charges cruelty to other patients, declaring he had seen a patient whipped with a leather strap for asking for something to eat after regular meal hours, and had seen a man suffering from pneumonia die after being forced into a tub filled with cold water.
Wolf claims to be a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and a local lodge of the order is supporting him in his charges.
Frank E. Jefferson made affidavit that on October 22 he underwent an operation at the hospital, and the incision was not dressed until the 25th. Later he was moved to Hahneman Medical college.
Arthur Slim, a brick layer, declared that while he was in the hospital with an ulcerated leg and suffering much pain, a doctor ordered him to the kitchen to work. He replied "that if he had to work, he might as well be laying brick."
Then the doctor repeated his order that Slim must either work in the kitchen or leave. Slim says he left, and limped to the emergency hospital and asked they physicians there to dress his sore leg. They refused, he avers, because he had left the general hospital.
Then Slim went to the University hospital, where his leg was dressed, and he was ordered back to the general hospital.
"December 23 I went back to the hospital," claims Slim, "and when the doctor saw me, he told others he would 'fix' me. He poured a quart bottle of acid over my sore leg."
Signor Friscoe was a trapeze performer. He swears that on January 16, 1909, he fell from a trapeze at the Hippodrome, breaking five ribs and paralyzing his lower limbs. He complains that he was roughly handled both in the ambulance and at the hospital, and that when he asked to be allowed to communicate with the Benevolent Order of Eagles, of which he is a member, his request was denied. Finally, he got into communication with officials of the Kansas City aerie, and was removed to another hospital.
W. O. Cardwell asserts that Walter Gessley died at the hospital, and that a doctor refused to state the cause of death or furnish a death certificate until he was paid $2.
An attack on the hospital management came up in a different form in the upper house of the council. The board asked for authority to spend $5,000 for surgical instruments, an X-ray machine and fitting up a laboratory.
Dr. J. Park Neal, house surgeon at the general hospital, said last night:
"Neither I nor any member of the hospital staff care to deny the charges made against the hospital. We simply ignore them. They are too absurd to make a denial necessary."