Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Spanish Military Hospital in St. Augustine, Florida

Erica Here: Anyone who knows me knows how much I love history. I love old things, and I love the stories that accompany old things. So when I had a chance to spend a few days in St. Augustine, Florida, I grabbed the opportunity.

One of the places I wanted to visit in St. Augustine was the Spanish Military Hospital Museum. 

The museum is built on the footprint of the original, but the building is a reconstruction. It is on a narrow, mostly pedestrian street that full of old houses and buildings. Patrons of the museum were encouraged to take pictures and ask we did lots of both!

This is the room where a soldier was placed when the doctors feared there was no hope for the patient. He was given a private room, and provided every possible comfort.

 This bell hung outside the hospital and was used to summon the priest to minister to the dying soldier.

 The table of surgical tools in an era where the most common treatment for a catastrophic injury was amputation. We received a detailed description of the process. Whew!

This little gem was a pill roller. Often the medicinal treatment given to a soldier was an herb or plant he was quite familiar with. In order to make it see more 'pharmacological' the apothecary would mash the plant, mix it with a colorant and some beeswax, and using this device, roll it into long, slender cylinders. Then he'd place a cylinder on a marble tablet marked with fractions of inches, and cut the medicine into doses. This is where we get the term 'tablet' for a pill. Cool, huh?

Another interesting thing I learned was that the hospital was scrubbed several times per day with a solution of water and lavender. The Spanish believed that lavender had good properties for cleanliness and medicinal value. Long before they understood germs, the Spanish were using an herb with antiseptic properties to clean the hospital. Lavender also has a calming affect, something that would've been a nice byproduct for sick and injured soldiers.

Not to mention the hospital would smell lovely.

Have you ever visited St. Augustine? Have you heard of using lavender to scrub a hospital?

Here's a short video about the museum. 

Erica Vetsch:
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  1. Yes, I've been to St. Augustine, Erica. I loved the lighthouse, but didn't get to spend much time with historical things as you did. Thanks for sharing. And I loved the pill roller!! :)

  2. Oh, and I wanted to know what years this would have been active?

  3. This hospital would've been active in the Second Colonial Period in Florida, 1784-1821.

  4. Interesting post, Erica, thanks!! I've been to St. Augustine, however, was only there 1 day and didn't get to see as much as I would have liked - pretty, historical city. I've never heard of scrubbing a hospital with lavender.

    1. I was in St. Augustine three days and I feel I barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do there!

      I hadn't heard of the lavender washes either. I bet that place smelled great for awhile. :)

  5. I loved my visit to St. Augustine. It's one of my fav places and I can't wait to visit again. I didn't go toe the military hospital, but due to this article I will when I next go there.


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