Florence Nightingale

One of the greatest proponents of hospital reform was Florence Nightingale. During the Crimean War of 1854 - 1856, British soldiers wounded in battle in Russia’s Crimean hospital in Scutari, Turkey. Conditions there were abominable, and mortality rates were high as 60 percent. Patients were left to fester in their own excretions, bed sheets were covered with excrement and blood, wards were so crowded that lice migrated from bed to bed, and the rooms were dark and airless. Nightingale, a vigorous leader and superb organizer, changed all this. She and her team of nurses washed the soldiers’ bodies with clean cloths, boiled the sheets, made sure the beds were spaced well apart, let sunlight and fresh air into the wards, and prepared nourishing, easily digested food for the patients. Hospital deaths declined dramatically. - Healing Spaces - Esther Sternberg, p. 224