There is nothing quite like the simple joys of getting some fresh air and sunshine. I think many of us can appreciate the benefits that spending time outdoors has on how we feel. These benefits have long been recognised in the health setting too.
The CALHN Health Museum holds many photographs dating from the early to mid 20th century of patients enjoying some fresh air and sunshine outside. The old site of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, contained many gardens, verandahs and balconies for use by patients.
Open-air treatment was the use of fresh air and sunshine to aid in a patients recovery. It was recognised to be particularly beneficial to those with infectious respiratory diseases. Many of the wards incorporated outdoor areas of wards on balconies and undercover annexes.
The relative remoteness and wide separation between ward buildings at the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital (Later Northfield Infectious Diseases Hospital and now Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre) meant that it was ideally suited to “getting some air”.
As well as the therapeutic benefits, for the patients of the Royal Adelaide Hospital in the early and mid 20th century there was also perhaps more practical reason’s for getting patients outside. Many of the wards were overcrowded and during the hot summer months they got stiflingly hot. Indeed it wasn’t until January 1940 that the first wards of the hospital received air-conditioning. These wards, Verco and Frome, were the first to receive air-conditioning as they were most affected by the heat. An article from the year proceeding the installation stated that:
“So fierce was the heat in certain wards at the Adelaide Hospital during the week that patients, many of whom were in a precarious state of health, were reduced to exhaustion point.”Heat Stroke in Hospital (1939, January 14). The Mail, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55910751
Incorporating the benefits of the outdoors continues at the new RAH building which has a number of green spaces and courtyards that can be used by clients. Each room was designed to be within two minutes of one of these spaces.
Written by Jonathan Hull, CALHN Health Museum