Investigation of Lyon’s View Insane Hospital in 1889

To Be Thoroughly Done.  The Investigation of the Lyon’s View Insane Hospital

Several members of the special committees appointed by the legislature to investigate the Lyon’s View hospital, the University and the branch prison at Coal Creek, including Senator West and Representative Gault, were in the city yesterday.  The other members arrived in a special car at 2 o’clock this morning.  The committee to investigate the insane hospital will hold meetings in public, and the oft-repeated charges that the institution is not in a proper manner will be thoroughly investigated.  It was intimated to a Journal reporter yesterday that no obstacles would be thrown in the way way of the committee and the management will give them every opportunity to make the investigation complete.  The sergeant-at-arms of the house of representatives will be here and will summon witnesses, etc.

Source:  Knoxville Daily Journal and Tribune, February 5, 1889, page 4


Lyon’s View Hospital.  Further Investigation of the Institution.  Various Witnesses Examined by the Committee.  The Charges Not Sustained on the Face of the Evidence Produced — the Committee Leaves Town

The investigation of the Lyon’s View Insane hospital was resumed at the Hattie house yesterday morning at 8 o’clock by the committee on charitable institutions from the legislature.

Martin Dykes, employed two years as engineer and laborer, was asked to testify on the charge that the basement and the kitchen were unclean.  He did not think the basement was as clean as it might have been; did not know whose duty it was to look after these things.  He had seen two male patients kicked and slapped by the supervisor and one woman slapped by a matron during his stay.  None of them were badly hurt or laid up.

Mr. Flanders was called to the stand again and, among other things, said that he had made it his business, as trustee, to visit the hospital about meal times, and that he found the food to be clean and well cooked.  He had never seen any tainted meats.  Being a holtel [sic] man, he had taken pains to look into these things from that standpoint.

Will Epps testified that Dr. Fite had told him about two months before he left the asylum that it was one of the best managed institutions of its kind in the south.

Dr. C. M. Drake testified that he had visited the hospital three or four times and examined into all the details.  He found everything in good condition; saw no vermin on the patients or their beds.

Dr. Brown, the assistant physician at the hospital, was sworn and gave his testimony in a clear, straightforward manner that made an impression on the committee.

Q — When did you enter the East Tennessee hospital?
A — August 19, 1887.

Q — Where were you employed before you came here?
A — In the Indiana Hospital for the Insane.

Q — How long were you employed there?
A — Six years.

Q — What was your position there?
A — First assistant physician.

Q — How many patients were under your charge?
A — Over sixteen hundred.

Q — How does the management of the Lyon’s View hospital compare with that of the Indianapolis hospital?
A — Very favorably.

Q — You are assistant physician at Lyon’s View?
A — I am.

Q — Does the superintendent investigate complaints that come up from the different departments?
A — He does, very promptly.

Q — Have you noticed any vermin on the patients or their beds?
A — Occasionally.  Patients coming to the hospital frequently bring vermin with them.  In spite of a most thorough attempt to get rid of them a few lice and bed bugs will get abroad.  I examine the beds and the patients and if I find vermin I destroy them.  I visit the wards, the rooms and the beds at least twice every day, although it is the duty of the matrons and supervisors to investigate and report to the superintendent.

Q — Did you have a conversation with Dr. Fite in which he stated that if he was appointed superintendent you would be cared for?
A — I had a conversation with Dr. Fite during which he stated that if he was ever so fortunate as to be appointed superintendet [sic] of this or any other institution he would like to retain my services.
Dr. Brown described the duties of the assistant physician at a hospital.  If his duty to look after the patients and especially those who are sick.

Q — Could a patient be locked up in a room with pneumonia for three or four days without your knowledge?
A — No sir, I go through the different wards every day twice or more.  First about 8 0’clock in the morning and after or during the supper hour in the evening.  I go through oftener, if necessary.  I watch the list of working patients or those whoa re sent out on the grounds for any purpose.  If one was missing I would discover the fact.  I know all the patients and where each one is quartered.  I go through the wards, open the doors and examine the rooms.  Owing to my system it would be impossible for a patient to be confined to his room any length of time without my knowledge.

Q — Did you ever lay any complaints before Dr. Campbell, and if so how did he receive them?
A — I have complained and others have complained about the treatment of patients, and Dr. Campbell has always taken the pains to thoroughly investigate complaints and charges, and when the proof was sufficient to discharge any of the help, they have been promptly discharged or disciplined, as the case might be.

Dr. Fite — You have reformed the institution since I left there.  The rules were different then.

Q — How are the patients buried when they die?
A — Very decently.  The matrons, supervisors and others attend to the burial of deceased patients.  When they are without good clothing they are buried in a shroud.

Hugh Beal, an assistant in the kitchen, testified that he had seen tainted beef and bacon served to the patients on four different occasions.

Dr. Campbell was the last witness examined.  He testified as to his expenses on various trips to Nashville and other places in the interest of his institution.  He had always presented a statement to the trustees and left it in their hands to be audited.  If they discovered anything of a personal nature they could charge it to him and he would pay it out of his own pocket.

One of the committee stated to a Journal reporter last night that the only thing they could object to was the insufficient amount of clothing furnished the pauper patients.

Source:  Knoxville Daily Journal and Tribune, February 7, 1889, page 1


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