Pueblo County, Colorado
Woodcroft Sanitorium

The Birth of Woodcroft

Denver Evening Post 3-17-1896 - Established a Home – Colorado's Feeble Minded To Be Cared For – A Private Institution Comes Into Existence in Pueblo and Offers To Care For the State's Charges – Its Directors Are Well Known People – The Board to Act -

Since the recent agitation in favor of the establishment of a home for Colorado's feeble minded was started, an institution for the reception and care of this class of patients has been formed at Pueblo.

Secretary Lowell of the board of charities and corrections received formal notice to-day of the organization of the home, and at the next meeting of the board, which occurs early in April, this will receive consideration with the other communications on file.

Whether the institution referred to is a meritorious one and is worthy of the support of the state is a matter for the board to decide after a careful investigation of its claims are made. There are some substantial people back of the enterprise, and, from outward appearances, it seems to be a deserving one.

The list of directors includes ex-Governor Alva Adams, Mrs. M. D. Thatcher, Mrs. Charles H. Stickney, Aaron Sonnsborn and E. P. Newton, and the staff of consulting physicians mentioned comprises Dr. P. R. Thombs of the state insane asylum, diseases of the mind; Dr. R. W. Corwin, brain surgery; A. T. King, general medicine; Rolla G. Hay, diseases of women; E. M. Marbourg, eye and ear, and W. W. Bulette, nose and throat.

The circular forwarded to the board of charities says that there are already eight patients at the place, and accommodations are being made for fifty more. State charges will be taken care of at the maximum price of $240 per year per capita. This rate is considerably lower than the one made by outside the state institutions, and if the patients will be as well provided for at the latter as the former places, the terms are very reasonable ones.

According to the circular, the home is pleasantly located on a bluff overlooking the city of Pueblo at a point remote from disturbances of business and intrusion of the curious.

The home proposes to care, not for detention only, for the mentally sick, but to educate and cure them when it is possible to do so. Skilled instructors, it is claimed, will be provided, and the patients will include the idiotic, feeble minded and imbeciles.

The superintendents are Hubert Work and Mrs. Hattie Morgan. Mr. Work, in a communication to Secretary Lowell, says, among other things: “We would be pleased to have you make such inquiries and investigation of the home as may be necessary to convince you that this institution is a reliable and trustworthy one.”

The institution appears to have been launched forth with considerable mystery, and, outside of the information that came to Mr. Lowell, the governor nor other members of the board ever heard of it before. This fact urged the suggestion that the home was a private money-making scheme, and should not be dealt with by the state in any way. The investigation to be made by the board may, however, prove the contrary.

The number of feeble minded persons in Colorado at present is 150, and over half of these are clamoring for admission to some home where they can be taken care of properly.

From Fifth Biennial Report of the State Board of Charities and Corrections For the Biennial Period Ending November 30, 1900, by Colorado State Board of Charities and Corrections, published by The Smith-Brooks Printing Co., Denver, Colorado, 1901:  
Woodcroft Sanitorium, Dr. Work's private hospital for mental and nervous disorders, Pueblo.  Owing to the crowded condition at the State Insane Asylum at Pueblo, the efforts of this office have constantly been to secure prompt and proper placing of all patients committed by the courts, and Dr. Work's hospital has been found available.  The counties pay a per diem rate of one dollar for each patient temporarily held in this private hospital.  As soon as a vacancy occurs in the state hospital, the counties are notified in turn, and county patients are transferred from Dr. Work's to state care.  The same care is given the patients there as at the state institution, and Dr. Work submits reports to this office whenever requested, and is as much in touch with the state work as though he were managing a state hospital.   

The history of the Woodcroft Sanatorium is submitted by Dr. Work:
"In March of 1885, two nurses living in Pueblo engaged to care for, in their own home, an insane woman from Pitkin county who could not be admitted to the State Asylum.  Two others were soon added, all being later transferred to the home of a retired asylum nurse, where they remained until September, 1896.  The health of the matron failed and the Ladies' Benevolent Union, which owned a little hospital building already furnished, kindly consented to its use for these patients, then numbering thirteen women.  One year later (October, 1897), the number having increased to twenty-two women, an old family hotel building was rented and repaired and those later admitted, of both sexes, were there cared for.  By January, 1898, the two buildings were caring for seventy-eight insane county charges, a maximum not since reached.  Twenty-eight of these were transferred to the State Asylum during January and February of that year, after which one building was ample for the accommodation of those remaining.  

In October of 1899, 'Woodcroft,' a suburban home place of twenty acres, with ditch rights, bearing orchards, small fruits, garden and hay land, was purchased, on which was a nine-room house, a three-room cottage, barn and other outbuildings.  In June of the present year a hospital building of three stories, 40x60 feet, with a wing of same height 30x45 feet, was completed.  The patients were again removed - the fifth time in the five years of the hospital.  The first floor of the present building provides a residence for the superintendent's family, office and dispensary.  The second is arranged for a reception room, infirmary for women, assembly room and nurses' rooms.  The third accommodates private men patients, the house physician and male nurses.  The first wing floor is arranged for private women patients.  The second floor is an open dormitory for county female patients, with rooms off one side for the disturbed.  The third floor is occupied by county male charges.  This wing is partitioned from the main building for convenience of classification.  A cheerful three-room cottage with porches is occupied by the infirm men, who are privileged to walk in the grounds at will.  Their gratitude because the apparent freedom and separation from the younger and more obtrusive patients is a constant pleasure.  The hospital has forty-five rooms and two dormitories.  Each room has ventilator shaft and heater.  Each floor is provided with standpipe, hose and reel, with fire plug and hose in the grounds, all of which are attached for instant use.  A convenient system of call bells and speaking tubes is in use.  The steam-heating plant is housed fifty feet from the hospital building.  This with the electric lighting and detached cooking department, minimizes the danger from fire.  The dining cottage is detached, the patients going out for meals a pleasant diversion for them and avoiding the confusion and odors inseparable from this department.  A training school for backward children was opened in September with an enrollment of six children.  An experienced teacher is in charge.  The necessity for such a school is evident.  The orchard produced 200 barrels of apples and 1,000 gallons of cider for the market, in addition to the unrestricted use of fruit through the season and that stored for winter use.  The gardener marketed vegetables in excess of our hospital consumption and storage.  The pork used is home fed and slaughtered, and the dairy herd supplies 500 gallons of milk each month.  The precaution of having the cows tested by the State Board of Health for tuberculosis was taken, a valuable protection to the patients.  Two advantages accrue from the liberal home production of these staples - the product is fresh and the patients get more of them.  Drs. W. W. Grant and N. D. Owen, commissioners of the State Asylum; its superintendent, Dr. Busey, individual members of the local board of county visitors and the secretary of the State Board of Charities and Correction have visited the hospital at intervals and have offered suggestions of great value."   

Employes: Superintendent, four female nurses, two male nurses, medical assistant, teacher, two cooks, laundress, gardener, dairyman, coachman, fireman and night watch, porter.

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