Biennial Report of the Lunacy Commission – December 1917

December 1917

Biennial Report of the Lunacy Commission

This includes an excerpt on Springfield State Hospital. This extract was most likely written by J. CLEMENT CLARK, M. D., the superintendent of the hospital.

Note that Wade H. D. Warfield was a member of the Board of Managers of Springfield State Hospital.

This report covers December 1, 1915 to November 30, 1917.

Published by Press of the Advertiser-Republican, Annapolis, MD

The entire report is here:


Gov. EMERSON C. HARRINGTON, President of the Board.

C. WILBUR MILLER, Baltimore County.

HON. HUGH A. MCMULLEN,  Comptroller of the Treasury.

W M. S. EVANS,  Cecil County.

HON.  J OHN M. DENNIS,  State Treasurer.

W M . H. FORSYTHE, Howard County.

JOHN HUBNER, Vice-President of the Board, Baltimore City.

WADE H. D. WARFIELD, Carroll County.

THOMAS J. SHYROCK, Secretary-Treasurer, Baltimore City.

Superintendent—J. CLEMENT CLARK, M. D.
Clinical Director—HARRY D. PURDUM, M. D.
Resident Physician, Men’s Group—JOHN N. MORRIS, M. D.
Resident Physician, Women’s Group—MAUD M. REES, M. D.
Assistant Physicians—J. L. WETHERED, M. D.

Total number of patients in hospital on Oct. 1, 1915 -  1397
Admitted during the biennial period, Qct. 1. 1915—Oct. 1, 1917 – 666
Discharged as recovered, Oct. 1, 1915—Oct. 1, 1917 – 101
Discharged as improved, Oct. 1, 1915—Oct. 1, 1917 – 191
Discharged as unimproved, Oct. 1, 1915—Oct. 1, 1917 – 64
Died, Oct, 1, 1915—Oct. 1, 1917 – 235
Total number of patients in hospital on Oct. 1, 1917 – 1472


The medical work has continued on advanced lines. Staff meetings were held regularly during the two years, all newly admitted patients being brought before the Staff and their cases carefully diagnosed. Physio-therapeutics, or the use nature’s forces such as water, heat, light and exercise, have been used more extensively during the past two years than ever before.

This has been made possible by trained assistants and the equipment in the Hubner Psychopathic Building. While this method of treatment is not a cure-all, I am thoroughly convinced that it THE STATE OF MARYLAND has a very wide range of usefulness in the treatment of both the acute and chronic psychoses. The continuous baths in particular have been a source of great comfort and benefit to our acutely excited as well as our agitated, depressed patients. I have often seen patients admitted who had not slept for days, intensely maniacal, feverish and almost exhausted, placed in a warm continuous bath, become quiet, take nourishment, and in a short time obtain restful, natural sleep. You can readily understand how much more rational and beneficial this kind of treatment is than drugging a patient into insensibility and force-feeding him.

The continuous baths have unquestionably shortened attacks, decreased their intensity and saved many patients from death by exhaustion. During the past two years suitable cases have received 1315 days of continuous bath treatment with benefit in every case. In some chronic maniacal cases transferred from other hospitals the benefit was only transitory, but all the acute cases made speedy recoveries and returned to their homes.

The other types of baths as well as the douches, packs, etc., have been quite effectual in the treatment of special cases, though slower in action. I might mention here that we have been getting surprisingly good results with those cases of the dementia praecox group who show hyper-irritability of the sex organs, by administering Scotch douches to the lower spine before retiring.

Prescriptions are now written for some form of physiotherapy more frequently than for drugs and one has to exercise unusual care in writing such a prescription, because the age and condition of the patient, pressure and temperature of the water as well as the length of treatment have to do with success or failure.

This movement has been carefully fostered. A patient’s home surroundings are looked into both before and after parole by the After-care Worker, as it is important that the patient’s home life be such as to favor his continued convalescence. We have about sixty patients out under this system, the majority of whom woiild still be in the institution a burden upon the State, were it not for the supervision thus provided. This is, therefore, an economical measure, as patients ceased to be paid for by either city or county when thus paroled. (I have three patients in my own household and feel that I am personally saving the State $600.00 a year, as not one of them can get along in her home and would have to be cared for in some institution for the insane, at a cost of not less than $200.00 a year each.)

The value of occupation as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of the insane has been so generally recognized and its adoption so widespread that it would seem useless to dilate upon it. Yet, to find suitable and congenial employment for patients requires an endless amount of skill, tact and judgment by the medical staff and supervisors. To require a patient to work on a task that he does not like is only to add fuel to the flame, so to speak, is unkind and unjust, and will not yield results. The mental state of the patient must be known from day to day. His moods, desires, delusions, hallucinations, phobias, etc., must be studied just as thoroughly as the condition of heart, kidneys, lungs and other organs.

During the past two years a course in arts and crafts has been added to the curriculum of our training school for nurses, and I find that it has a most satisfactory and stimulating effect inasmuch as it has been made possible for the nurses, so trained, to carry this therapeutic agent into each ward and cottage, there to administer it intelligently. While some of the materials formerly used have not been obtainable during the past two years, this-has been compensated for by the great enthusiasm exhibited by the women patients in working their individual flower and vegetable gardens, in making various articles for the American Bed Cross and in doing their bit in gathering and canning vegetables.

In addition to cutting and husking our corn and gathering our own crops, the male patients have been picking potatoes and cut and are still husking corn for some of our neighbors, thus doing their bit in the great and important task of our country in food conservation.

Lunacy Commission Report - 1917

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