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March 25, 1933


Author Affiliations

Director, Bureau of Medical Economics, American Medical Association CHICAGO

JAMA. 1933;100(12):870-873. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.02740120008003

Although it is claimed that the temples of Saturn represent the origin of hospitals, thousands of years passed after this alleged classical beginning before civilization had developed to an appreciation of and a demand for buildings set apart exclusively for the care of the sick, even in the largest urban centers. Hospitals of the early centuries of the Christian era were established for various purposes—the housing and relief of orphaned children, the aged, the poor, the infirm, the lame and the blind, and for lepers outside the towns. These were charitable, relief and service institutions and no doubt contributed much to the comfort of the unfortunates who applied for succor. It is not definitely known, in each instance, to what degree medical care and nursing constituted the functions of these early hospitals but it should be clear that the expansion of this phase of hospital service was directly dependent on

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