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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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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Wary Minders

Wary Minders

Custodians and Caregivers

(p.134) Chapter 7 Wary Minders
Driven by Fear

Guenter B. Risse

University of Illinois Press

This chapter reveals a flawed healer–patient relationship within the institutional life of the San Francisco pesthouse. Constant fear of contagion, the gruesome panorama of continuing suffering and death, and therapeutic frustrations had all taken their toll on doctors and nurses. Newspaper stories exposed acts of professional avoidance, hostility and cruelty, boredom and depression, even alcoholism and occasional suicide. The establishment was plagued with organizational deficiencies and a dearth of caregiving, yet because of its geographical remoteness, the San Francisco pesthouse drew little scrutiny from the authorities and public at large. Thus, the chapter explores the various reasons accounting for the cases of neglect as well as the various shortcomings of the San Francisco medical establishment as a whole.

Keywords:   healer–patient relationship, medical professionals, health custodians, San Francisco pesthouse, professional avoidance, neglect, contagion

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