Furnishing a Hospital Room (1896)

A Beautiful Memorial.  A Few Hints in Furnishing a Room in a Hospital

In these days of philanthdopie [sic] work hospitals and their proper fittings are of interest to many of us.  A beautiful deed, and one which will always be appreciated, is to fit up a private room in a hospital and to give it in memory of some dear friend or relative who has gone.  To do this properly requires much thought, time, and some extensive outlay of money but it is a noble and lasting gift, and quite repays one for any amount of trouble.

It is absolutely important, and essential that the room should be furnished in as sanitary a manner as possible, and these few practical hints may be useful to one who contemplates such an act.

The walls and ceiling should be treated so that they can be thoroughly washed with disinfectants at any time and often.  Enamel paint is the best to use for this purpose, as it has a very hard surface, and can be washed, like china, without injury.  The best color to use is a “pink yellow,” which is said to be very pleasing and restful to the eyes.

The floors should be of hardwood, either pine or oak, and they can be finished in two ways — that is, either varnished or brushed with a parafine [sic] application which is put on with weighted brushes.  The varnished floor makes a nice finish, but if it should require repair it is most inconvenient as it takes a week or ten days for the varnish to dry and become hard enough for service.  The satisfactory thing about the parafine application, on the other hand, is that the surface can be easily brushed over at any time, and is ready for use almost immediately.  This enables one to keep it more uniformly than when varnish is used.

Rugs are by all means the best covering for the floor.  They can be taken up and aired and cleaned, and very easily kept in order.  A rug of wool or of light matting can be taken up, cleansed, and returned to the floor without injury to the patient.  A rug in solid colors is preferable to the variegated rug.

The windows are much improved by having inside shades, which should be of the same tint as the walls.  If there are no outside blinds or shutters to the windows, dark green shades should be added; these are very necessary as very often the condition of the patient requires that the room should be constantly darkened.  The sash curtains may be made of muslin as they can be washed easily, and so kept fresh and clean.

The furniture in the room should be painted in white enamel paint, whether it is wood, iron or rattan.  There is furniture made expressly for hospitals, called “asceptic [sic] furniture” and it is often used.

There should be a bureau and if there is no closet, a wardrobe, an iron washstand with glass top and glass-top table.  Some sort of an easy chair should be provided, but not a rocker, which is very tiresome to the patient if a friend calls, as the swaying article is apt to be kept in constant motion.  An easy chair is much more comfortable to the invalid when he is able to sit up.  A rattan chair, painted white, with cushions covered with linen, would be the best.  Include, also, a rattan couch, furnished in white, the pillows with washable covers in some pretty linen which harmonizes with the rest of the room.  A dainty silk spread could be added to the sofa’s furnishings.  The bed linen should be the best one can afford.  For a small single room 18 sheets and 24 pillow cases are sufficient, with 4 white dimity spreads, 6 blankets differing in weight, 6 Turkish bath towels, 24 huckaback towels and 24 table napkins.  All these things should be daintily marked, and made to look as homelike and attractive as possible.

A bedside table and an invalid’s tray, which can be used for various purposes, are desirable things to be added to the more necessary articles.  the wash bowl, pitcher, etc., should match the general tone of the room.

Of course there are numberless comforts and luxuries which one could give, such as hot water bags, rubber sheets, reflecting candlesticks and complete table service; but all the essential things are mentioned in the list of ordinary furnishings.  Anything that gathers dust is objectionable, and pictures are not desirable.

The simple and plainer the room, the better, but it can be made to look very homelike if taste is used in the choice of the colors.  Blue and white is cool and restful, and so is green and white; bright red, on the other hand, would be tiresome and irritating to invalids.  Yellow of the correct shade gives a pleasant effect of sunlight, and is very cheery and bright without being glaring. — Harper’s Bazar [sic].

Source:  Knoxville Daily Journal and Tribune, August 23, 1896, page 6

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