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COMMITTEE ON SOLDIERS AND SAILORS' HOMES.
To the State Board of Charities:
The Standing Committee on Soldiers and Sailors' Homes presents herewith its annual report for the year 1909. Visitations and inspections have been made regularly during this year. A greater number of old veterans were received, who have never before availed themselves of the privileges of the homes — men who have worked faithfully until the infirmities of advancing age, or loss of relatives and friends, make it impossible to continue self-support. A larger proportion of senile, crippled and mentally impaired persons are found than at any previous time. This, of course, increases the difficulties of administration, especially in regard to medical care and treatment.
At both the New York State Soldiers' Home at Bath and the New York State Woman's Relief Corps Home at Oxford more hospital attendants were needed and the hospital service was extended. The improvements at Bath provide for isolation of tuberculosis and better classification of the neurological cases. At Oxford the new hospital building of twenty-nine beds was filled to its capacity on opening day, and the large proportion of bed-ridden patients here makes it necessary to consider further addition to the infirmary facilities. That all soldiers' homes are meeting with the same experience is shown in public reports. In time these homes will become infirmaries. Recent data compiled by the Federal bureau show a downward trend in the total population of soldiers' homes in the United States and during the year 1906–7 increased proportion of admissions of veterans who had never before applied for assistance. At the close of the year 1906 the average number registered in all National and State homes was 42,792 or an increase of 1.63 per cent. as compared with the year 1905. At the close of the year 1907 the average number registered was 42,982 or an increase of 0.44 per cent." as compared with the year 1906.
At the close of the year 1908 the average was 41,828 or a decrease of 2.68 per cent. as compared with the year 1907. The figures for the year 1909 are not yet available but every indication points to a still greater decrease of the population.
We submit appended notes on each of the two New York State Homes.
NEW YORK STATE SOLDIERS AND SAILORS' HOME,
BATH, STEUBEN COUNTY, NEW YORK.
The physical improvements at this home during the year have been many. The Legislature of 1908, by special act, appropriated $15,000 for hospital extensions. With the completion of these alterations the more important changes will be:
a. The objectionable disciplinary “Snug IIarbor” will be practically eliminated, its use being restricted to cases under special night arrest.
b. By the institution of a special ward of fifty to seventy-five bed capacity, alcoholic victims will come under more direct medical supervision and treatment and be subject to better discipline.
c. The top floor of the convalescent barracks is to be enlarged to a bed capacity of 118 and conditions made as suitable as possible for the care and treatment of tuberculosis cases.
d. The third floor of Company “A” barracks will be converted into a service dormitory for civilian employees and hospital nurses.
The nurses and attendants for the infirm should be capable trained civilians. This would insure better care and discipline than when such attendants are members detailed at nominal compensation.
The new ice storage plant authorized under appropriations of the 1908 Legislature is now completed and ready for use. It covers a ground space of 182 feet by 24 and has a capacity of
1,500 tons. It is excellently built and is equipped with an electric hoist. All the work was done under home supervision.
The nuisance which menaced the welfare of the institution by the unrestricted sale of alcoholic drinks to inmates in twentyeight or thirty saloons near the premises may be abated after October 1, 1910, for at the recent general election the community voted “no license” to the liquor traffic.
A system of pass-cards has been designed to regulate the hours of leave from the home grounds and to restrict more effectually those who evade the rules. A white card is issued to each memberon admittance and represents exemplary conduct; this entitles the holder to free coming and going between the hours of 8 1. M. and 9 P. v. A green pass-card represents a modified privilege and is good only from 8 s. M. to 5 P. M. Delinquents are not permitted to leave the grounds.
The general health has been good. However, owing to the increase of chronic infirmities the average hospital census has increased from 37+ in 1907 and 390 in 1908, to 131 in 1909. The death rate from chronic ailments and old age is greater this year than formerly. There were 273 deaths; 258 persons died in the hospital proper and eleven were moribund on admission. The average age of patients under medical care on September 30, 1909, was 72.85 years as against 70.89 years one year ago. The home census at the close of the year was 2,129; of this number 177 were on furlough. The capacity remains as before, 2,000. The needs of this home as viewed by the committee are:
(1) Early substitution of civilian paid helpers in the hospital and mess-hall service to improve the administration.
(2) Extension of the water supply to provide increased fire protection.
(3) Prompt rebuilding of the sewage disposal filtration beds.
(4) Adequate passenger elevator service in the general hospital and convalescent barracks.
(5) Extension of the telephone system to provide an interior service between wards in the hospital.
(6) Further special fund allowance for necessary interior and exterior painting and renovation.
NEW YORK STATE WOMAN'S RELIEF CORPS HOME, OXFORD, CHENANGO COUNTY, N. Y.
(Established 1894.) The general administration of this home reflects credit on the officers and board of managers.
The following improvements were noted:
The new hospital authorized by the last Legislature has been completed and equipped. Its capacity of twenty-nine is not adequate, even to the needs of special bed-ridden cases requiring constant attention. At present it is used exclusively for women patients.
The land about the hospital was graded, terraced and set out with young pine trees, and the flagstone walk was extended. Water from two springs on the Sturgis farm has been piped to the storage supply.
The work of supplying water from the Chenango river for fire protection progresses favorably.
Improvement of the grounds includes the rebuilding of a fountain on the front lawn in full view of the cottages, and placing electric lights on the premises. Variously colored bulbs are used to give variety to the illumination. On completion of the assembly hall and chapel in the central cottage it is planned to provide better entertainment for the members.
The capacity of the home, including the hospital, is 230. At the close of the year the census was 183, classified as follows: Veterans, 38; veterans' wives, 38; veterans' widows, 105; veteran's mother, 1; army nurse, 1.
About one-third of the present family are helpless enough to need special care. This proportion is higher than that of New York State Soldiers and Sailors' Home at Bath, which averages about one-fourth of its population helpless. The number of deaths for the year 1909 was 29, an increase of 5 over last year.
The hospital staff and service is excellent; two trained nurses are on duty under the direction of a resident physician and a sufficient number of paid civilian attendants and orderlies are provided.
The committee recommends for this institution a sufficient appropriation to provide separate and distinct hospital wings for the isolation of tuberculosis and other contagious diseases.
RALPH W. THOMAS,