If you felt you needed to be admitted to the Owatonna Hospital in 1901, you had to make you weren't too sick or else they wouldhn't take you. What? I ran across this interesting article from the Journal of the American Medical Association from 1901. The hospital board approved a resolution that before a person could be admitted, they had to present a letter from their doctor stating that they didn't suffer from smallpox, diphtheria, measles, tuberculosis or scarlet fever. Sounds strange doesn't it? If you were really sick, you might not be admitted to the Owatonna Hospital. But consider the times. These afflictions were terrifying.

What got me started on this journey was the discovery of this certificate of my grandfather's from 1894 in Norway. The translation on this reads as follows:

Born in Tordal of parents Harald and Liv___ who live in Versbak. Aged 2 was inoculated with cowpox by me, the undersigned, in the year 1894 on September 8th. At the required examination between the 7th and 9th days after inoculation I have found all indications that show that it is genuine cowpox; specifically the lesions were whole and undamaged, filled with a clear fluid, depressed in the middle and surrounded by a red circle. John (my grandpa) has thus properly undergone a genuine case of cowpox, that will provide protection from smallpox which is hereby certified upon my honor and in good conscience. Witnessed September 27, 1894.

It's then signed by the doctor and also includes a notation indicating that this certificate needs to be reported to the parish pastor within six weeks.

Interesting isn't it? There are quite a few references in regards to people being deliberately infected with cowpox, which, in turn, caused antibodies to form that would help fight off the dreaded and often fatal smallpox. Smallpox and cowpox were similar viruses with smallpox the much deadlier one.

small pox

This then caused me to seek out more information on smallpox and hence I came up with the above article stating no admittance to Owatonna Hospital in 1901 if you were really sick. I suspect this isn't a unique case and maybe many other hospitals had similar policies. Either way it's interesting.

We sure have come a long way in medicine, haven't we?

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