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The Creation of the Nation's First Hospital

Benjamin Franklin

Dr. Thomas Bond

Patient Admission and Regulation

Caring for Some Very Colorful Characters

Pennsylvania Hospital's Influence on the Field of Psychiatry

Dr. Benjamin Rush: "Father of American Psychiatry"

Thomas Story Kirkbride and the Magic Lantern


Famous Stories About Caring for Some Very Colorful Characters

Pennsylvania Hospital's 250-year tradition of caring for people from all walks of life has led to the treatment and internment of some very interesting people. Over the years, many stories have been published, what follows are two of the most famous.

A lunatic hermit
A case that attracted much attention in the Hospital and in the city, was that of "a remarkably neat and tidy Sailor," who was admitted as an insane patient in March, 1765. For a brief period he lived in the cells, where he proved very troublesome, quarreling with the Keeper and with the other patients.

The patient eventually escaped from the basement and ran through the house, reaching the cupola of the east wing, from which he successfully resisted all efforts by the staff and physicians to dislodge him. The attempts were eventually abandoned and bedding was placed in the cupola. He died there seven years later, in 1774.

It is recorded that: "He never left these cramped quarters for any purpose; he was also noted for his long nails, matted beard and hair and for insensibility to cold, since he never, in the coldest weather of nine winters, came near a fire."

The lunatic wife
On December 31, 1790, hospital records state that a "lunatic," the wife of prominent banker and philanthropist, was admitted to Pennsylvania Hospital as a paying patient in the amount of 25 shillings per week. Shortly after admission, she gave birth to a daughter who died 5 months later.

In January 1791, the sitting Managers reported to the Board they felt the patient was ready for release. The Board accordingly requested her husband to remove her to his own home. At his earnest request, the woman was retained in the Hospital until her death in 1815, living at the hospital for 25 years.

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