Institutionalised isolation: tuberculosis nursing at Westwood Sanatorium, Queensland, Australia 1919-55


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Abstract

Institutionalised isolation: tuberculosis nursing at Westwood Sanatorium, Queensland, Australia 1919-55From the mid nineteenth to mid twentieth century sanatoria loomed large in the popular consciousness as the space for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB). A review of the historiography of sanatoria at the beginning of this paper shows that the nursing contribution to the care of TB patients is at best ignored and at worst attracts negative comment. Added to this TB nursing was not viewed as prestigious by contemporaries, leading to problems attracting recruits. Using a case study approach based on surviving archival material, this paper sets out to provide a glimpse of the work of TB nurses in a rural sanatorium at Westwood, Queensland, Australia. For the nurses geographical isolation was compounded by professional stagnation, which created a working environment influenced by friction and discord among the staff. It reveals how despite this, nurses coped with working in hostile conditions, to make the long stay of their patients, separated from their families and familiar life style more bearable.

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