Signs of change

Hospital Band

During the mid 1880s Gerhard was hard at work proposing major changes to the hospital. However life for the patient went on much as they did in previous years. In 1885 a brass band of eleven pieces was organized, it was comprised of patients and attendants and was directed by a physician. Also in 1885 the male reading room was converted into a gymnasium and quickly became a great source of pleasure and benefit to some of the patients. Because Gerhard felt that the Main Building needed to be replaced he did not ask for much money to be spent on the old wards. However by 1888 the building was in such poor shape that he had the wards repainted, new carpet laid in the hallways, and overhauled much of the furniture. More and more patient labor was used under the supervision of the Gerhard. This labor was thought the be therapeutic for the patients and gave then a sense of pride and meaning. The labor also greatly helped the hospital, which would otherwise have to spend precious funds contracting outside labor. During 1888 the work on the pleasure grounds alone was estimated to of saved the hospital $6,312.50. Female patients did much of the work in the kitchen and the laundry.

In 1888 a big change occurred in the way meals were consumed at the hospital. All meals would now be consumed in a new central dinning room. Attendants would sit at the head of the tables with the patients and they would all eat "family style", each helping the other. The patients were required to remain at the table until all were done. Upon the completion of the meal the patients would retire to dayrooms in their respective wards. This new method was not only seen as an improvement over eating in small ward dinning rooms, but it also allowed for a central kitchen and food storage. An additional benefit to the new central dinning room was that all the old ward dining rooms were then converted into dormitories for the growing number of patients.

In 1886 the new North and South Branch buildings were completed. The Main Building did not have adequate housing for noisy and violent patients. The best that could be done was to place them in the wards furthest from the administration section. But the noisy patients would still be a constant disruption for other patients who had a better chance at being cured. These new branch buildings would house the more disturbed, violent, and noisy patients, with males in the North Branch and females in the South Branch. Later, these buildings would become Male & Female 9 & 10 for chronic patients. The new buildings also increased the hospital capacity by three hundred and twenty. They were connected to the Main Building via an above ground tunnel, which also connected the fan house and storage building to the rear of the administration section. A new Boiler House and Laundry building was built in 1887.

South Branch

In 1891 the patient population passed the 1,000 mark, also this year Gerhard decided to return to private practice and resigned from his position as superintendent. In his last annual repot Gerhard summarized his tenure at the hospital. "During the past eleven years we have fortunately been exempt from loss by fire. The value of the property has also greatly increased. At the beginning of the decade we had one hundred and twenty-nine acres of land; now we have two hundred and twenty-six, and there is an appropriation of $20,000 available for purchase of additional land. The grounds of the hospital have been greatly improved and beautified, at moderate expense, and much of the labor was preformed by patients. The sewerage of the entire institution has been rebuilt; the water closets in the old buildings have all been reconstructed and greatly improved and the buildings, in most particular, are in better condition than they were ten years ago.

Ice House

The capacity of the hospital has been increased three hundred and twenty beds by the erection of branch buildings, one for each sex. A new boiler house has been constructed, including coal vault, machine shop, laundry, and accommodations for a number of employees. The outbuildings, including the barn, house for the steward, stable for driving horses and the gardener's house have been greatly improved; and the green house and ice house entirely rebuilt. The institution is in sound financial condition, no bills remain unpaid and the treasurer has in hand $14,349.80 for current expenses." In one last appeal to the legislature, Gerhard again wrote a letter calling for a new building to be built. On November 1, 1891 Henry L. Orth became the third superintendent of the hospital.

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