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COMMITTEE ON CRAIG COLONY. To the State Board of Charities:
Your Committee on Craig Colony submits herewith its annual report.
Craig Colony has been unable to keep pace with the demands for admission made upon it, although since its establishment in 1894 it has been enlarged until its present capacity approaches 1,400. There are outside of institutions in the State approximately 1,200 epileptics who are in need of institutional care. Of these, some now curable will pass to the “possible improvement stage” while they are awaiting admission to the Colony. To provide immediate care for these unfortunates, especially those who may now be actually benefited by Colony life, is a reason why the opening of Letchworth Village is necessary. If, as is expected, the new institution will have facilities to care for patients in the fall of 1910, it can relieve Craig Colony thereafter of many of the patients from the southeastern part of the State and of a proportion of the “ low-grade," or purely custodial cases, now at Sonyea. Craig Colony can then admit patients when the applications are first received and more nearly provide for them “ the humane, economic and scientific care and treatment” they need.
Although the custodial care provided for chronic cases is essential as one of the steps in retarding the spread of epilepsy, especial interest always centres in the younger and more recent cases. Since the opening of the institution, of 1,562 patients discharged, 50 cases were cured and 390 were improved. These figures show that epilepsy will respond to treatment, but not readily; that chronic cases may be improved by living in accordance with strict rules of health; that permanent cures may be effected if the disease is treated within twelve months of the onset of the seizures. These facts show how intractable a disease epilepsy is and how necessary it is that the physicians have every favorable opportunity to accomplish results. The study of the cases which do yield to treatment enables them to determine the best courses to be followed in the treatment of other patients. For this reason their study will be facilitated by a well-equipped laboratory, by a supply of necessary implements and an up-to-date medical library.
In the crusade against this disease, two restrictions would help greatly. If (1) the Colony were given the authority to retain patients of sub-normal mentality who cannot care for themselves outside of an institution, and (2) if a statute were enacted forbidding the marriage of epileptics, then hereditary epilepsy would be restricted.
For those epileptics at the Colony who are amenable to the discipline and physically able, hours of occupation and recreation are now planned. The women help with household work, do sewing or pursue one of the many industries which are carried on at the institution. The men farm, assist the plumber, painter and mason, or follow some special industry, such as brick making, mattress making, blacksmithing, cobbling, broom making, carpentering or tailoring as well as the shoemaking, the chair caning and the rug making introduced this year. Entertainments are given at intervals or on special occasions, and some of the patients are allowed to leave the institution grounds with special permission to go to neighboring places for recreation. Separate religious services are held for the Protestant, the Catholic and the Jewish contingents. In these and other different matters, the aim of the officers is to make the patients as contented as possible.
With the younger children school work has made some progress during the year. The girls, eighty in mumber, have attended the classes provided for them and forty-five boys have studied the common school branches. Besides this, forty-six boys and voung men have followed the Sloyd course, which is pursued with great interest as well as profit. It must be remembered, too, that school work and manual training are important to these epileptics. It is most desirable that they shall at least be able to read, if only for their own pleasure; but even more important is the training in discipline, obedience, orderliness and accuracy which is so necessary in their life at the Colony and even much more necessary outside of the institution.