March 12, 1909
The people making charges of alleged cruelty at the general hospital had an inning with the council investigation committees yesterday, and will have another at 2:30 o'clock next Wednesday afternoon in the chambers of the lower house of the council. Later the defense, which is represented by Attorneys Frank Lowe and T. A. J. Mastin, will be heard. W. O. Cardwell, an attorney, appears for some of the complainants and Attorney J. J. McLain is on hand in the interests of the homeopathic medical fraternity which, too, has a grievance against the hospital administration. The complaint of the homeopathists is that they are not on an equality with other medical schools at the hospital.
The proceedings opened with the reading of a letter by Mr. Cardwell from Miss Carrie M. Carroll of Independence, in which she reviewed the treatment received at the hospital by Miss Josie Pomfret of that city. Miss Pomfret was sent there as a ward of the county court, and was to have a private room. Instead of that, the girl, Miss Carroll claims, "was taken to a public ward, was treated in a brusque manner, and was addressed in loud and threatening language by the doctors because she would not remove her jewelry."
"You are no better than a pauper and will get treatment as such," Miss Carroll alleges was said to Miss Pomfret, who became excited because she feared that an operation would be performed. She declared that Dr. J. Park Neal, the acting superintendent, had been very discourteous. The next day Miss Carroll called at the hospital to get Miss Pomfret.
"Do you consider you have authority to operate upon patients without notifying friends and relatives of the patients?" Miss Carroll says she asked Dr. Neal.
"Yes, I am in full authority here, and if I consider it necessary I can operate on a patient without asking anybody," Miss Carroll says was Dr. Neal's reply.
Miss Carroll claims that she was treated with much inattention when she called to take her friend from the hospital back to Independence, and concluded the letter by making this allegation: "The general hospital is a butcher shop with a madman at its head."
Miss Carroll explained that she was sending the letter as she could not attend the hearing, having been called to New York. Her affidavit, as well as that of Miss Pomfret, will be demanded by the committee.
Dr. Charles E. Allen, family physician to F. A. Wolf, a patient, who was to be operated on for hernia against his protest, testified that he did not consider an operation necessary and he had Wolf removed to Wesley hospital to prevent the threatened operation. Wolf had been sent to the hospital to be treated for a nervous breakdown.
Mrs. F. A. Wolf testified that her husband was sent to the hospital by direction of Dr. R. J. Wolf, who did not tell her what was the matter with him. She said that he was very much excited, a nervous wreck. Three different times she visited the hospital, and was allowed to remain with him five minutes each time. On the third visit her husband was very much excited because he was to be operated on for hernia. She told Dr. Neal she did not want the operation performed. She called up Camp 2002, Modern Woodmen, of which her husband is a member, and they moved him to another hospital.
Mrs. Wolf said she felt humiliated because her husband had been put in a ward with dope fiends, and had been strapped to the bed. She thought the strapping to the bed was unnecessary, although she had not seen him on the occasion he was strapped to the bed.
Asked by Alderman J. G. Lapp: "Did you see him strapped to the bed?"
Mrs Wolf -- "No, sir; I did not. My husband told me about it."
F. A. Wolf, the patient, said that he had been working night and day seven days a week at his trade of hat cleaner, and last fall became a nervous wreck. He was surprised when Dr. Wolf called and ordered him to the hospital. He rode to the hospital on the seat of the ambulance. At the hospital they made him take a bath, and put him in the insane ward. One of the patients in the ward chained him to the bed by one of his legs.
"I was not violent," continued Wolf. "Next morning an attendant came along and told me that if I would fix up an old hat for him, he would take the chains off my legs. I agreed to fix his hat, and the chains were taken off. Then they made me do work that was objectionable. That night they moved me to another ward, and put me in with a noisy fellow. The doctor gave the noisemaker an injection which kept him sick all night. In the morning I told an attendant that the noisy fellow had a sick night, and the doctor replied, 'That's nothing; they get used to that after they are here a while."
"I saw welts on the legs of an other patient who had been whipped because he had asked for something to eat between meal hours. The Saturday following my arrival at the hospital three doctors told me I would have to be operated on for hernia.
"I protested against an operation. They told me that all of my troubles would be over after the operation. Sunday they removed me to another ward, the surgical ward, it is called, and at supper time the nurse informed me that I didn't want much to eat as I was to have an operation performed. Later that day my wife took me to Wesley hospital in an ambulance. I was weak and exhausted. No operation was performed at Wesley.
Wolf claims that his friends were denied admittance to him while he was at the general hospital, and he thought it wrong for the attendants to chain him to the bed. The night before he was sent to the hospital he acknowledged he had been picked up at the depot, and he could not tell how he got there. He didn't want to go to the hospital. The strap with which the patient was flogged, Wolf said, was about three feet long and two inches wide. The patient was chained during the flogging process, according to Wolf.
W. O. Cardwell, an attorney, swore that on December 14, 1908, he went to the hospital to get the record and affidavit of death of a young man who had died there, as he wanted to get a claim in before the Modern Woodmen. Dr. Neal said he could make the affidavit.
" 'You know our rule out here,' said Dr. Neal.
" 'What is that rule?' I asked
" 'That a fee of $2 accompany the application for the affidavit,' " Cardwell said Neal said to him.
" 'I never had to do that before,' I told Neal, but on advice of the secretary of the Woodman camp I paid the $2."
"Is the rule of the hospital to charge for furnishing affidavits of death?" Alderman J. D. Havens asked Dr. Neal.
"It is not. I always exact it, as I consider it a professional personal service.," replied the doctor.
In answer to Attorney Frank Lowe, Cardwell would not say for certain whether Dr. Neal "had said it is a rule of the hospital or our rule," but he was quite positive that former administrations at the hospitals had not exacted a fee for supplying affidavits of death.