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Driven by FearEpidemics and Isolation in San Francisco's House of Pestilence$
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Guenter B. Risse

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039843

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039843.001.0001

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Tides of Inertia and Neglect

Tides of Inertia and Neglect

(p.59) Chapter 3 Tides of Inertia and Neglect
Driven by Fear

Guenter B. Risse

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the trends of corruption and neglect in the administration of the San Francisco pesthouse. Both city authorities and the public at large had considered the San Francisco pesthouse an unjust burden imposed on them, particularly since a fair number of the patients came from other parts of the state or abroad. Repeated official complaints, tinged with antipathy toward strangers and hatred of Chinese immigrants, sought to justify the policy of penury. Moreover, given California's failure to develop a coherent policy for medical segregation, responsibility and funding for a stigmatized facility like the San Francisco pesthouse remained subject to the whims of local politicians and businessmen. Hence, this chapter illustrates the challenges of achieving a proper political and economic balance during this period, attested by decades of seemingly erratic municipal decisions concerning pesthouse finances.

Keywords:   San Francisco pesthouse, San Francisco health department, medical segregation, pesthouse finances, municipal decisions

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