Last Friday the State Library of Massachusetts generously posted their archive of digitized Annual Reports for Northampton State Hospital. These reports were originally published by the State Hospital as an update for the State Government in Boston and to the greater community, but by 1941 the reports became more of a typed memo than a publication.
Each reports begins with an introduction by the board of trustees and then a letter from the Superintendent covering any significant events of the year. The most recent Annual Report available is from 1970. While we can never consider the Annual Reports, which were the voice of the State Hospital Administration to, in any way, be representative of the patients incarcerated behind the walls of the asylum, the frustration of Superintendent Dr. Goodman is clear.
His letter opens:
To the Trustees of the Northampton State Hospital:
As the years go by there are more demands for services by the communities served by the Northampton State Hospital.
We are requested to open a Drug Addiction, an Alcohol Unit and to “Unitize” our hospital (separate units for each area in our region). All this is to be done with our present facilities and personnel.
In addition to the above we are required to furnish eighty (80) square feet of bedspace for each Medicare and Medicaid patient. This is difficult with present facilities. The six hundred (600) patients over sixty five years of age will take up almost twice the space they now occupy and leave little space for the remaining twelve hundred (1200) patients. Our rated capacity far exceeds our true capacity.
Yet this is only one of the deficiencies we must overcome to obtain federal funds for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Besides the lack of space for geriatric patients and unitization we are required to furnish adequate toilet and bathing facilities and a staffing pattern acceptable to the Department of Public Health.
In the past we have been given insufficient funds in our budget to make repairs or replacements (except on an emergency basis) and now we have also been asked to keep personnel requests to a minimum. Sufficient personnel must be granted in order to function properly.
Most of our buildings are old an obsolete. The original four hospital buildings are 112 years old and are still in use.
The buildings are unsafe, unsanitary, overcrowded fire traps with poor lighting, heating and ventilation and must be replaced.
We require a maximum security building to house the court cases in this region. This building could also contain a unit for drug addicted patients and an alcohol unit.
We need an occupational and industrial therapy building since so much stress is placed on vocational rehabilitation.
We also require trained personnel as supervisors or directors of rehabilitation which have not been allowed in the past.
We require more personnel to move patients into community placements in order to cut our census and to provide the necessary bed space for patients now in the hospital and to be admitted.
We require adequate apartments for doctors. Many of our doctors live in antiquated buildings without housekeeping facilities and poor toilet facilities.
We must have attractive units for housekeeping in order to compete with other hospitals that not only offer excellent living quarters put pay higher salaries.
For many years we have mentioned our need for more personnel and new buildings. We have pointed out the hazard of fire in the old building. We have complained about the poor ventilation; poor lighting, poor heating, limited toilet and bathing facilities and overcrowding.
Repairs and replacements must be done now and not in a long range program.
With all the handicaps we will endeavor to continue our programs of treatment and offer the best possible care with what we have.
Northampton State Hospital Annual Reports
- Massachusetts State Library
- Massachusetts Archives
- University of Massachusetts, Special Collections and University Archives
- Goodman, Harry, Mary Brewer, and Henry Clarke. 1970. “Annual Report of the Northampton State Hospital for the Year Ending June 30, 1970.” Annual Report 112. Northampton, MA: Northampton State Hospital, Department of Mental Health. Massachusetts State Library. Northampton State Hospital Annual Reports at Massachusetts State Library.