Tuberculosis in Saskatchewan

Sunshine, bed rest and good food were the key therapies for Tuberculosis patients prior to the introduction of antibiotics and Sulpha drugs. Nurses would try and keep the patients healthy by taking them outside for fresh air. They would make sure that they ate properly and received enough bed rest. Some nurses did catch the disease, but most, remarkably, stayed healthy while caring for the very sick patients either in hospital wards or in any number of the province's sanatoriums. Most nurses were eventually vaccinated against the disease. But they still had to be careful.

Georgiana Chartier remembers her time at the Saskatoon Sanatorium:

"In the sanatorium -- actually, the care at that time was bed rest, good food, etcetera. I can't remember whether the -- don't know if it was sulphonomide or penicillin that was given for -- it may have been penicillin. And I don't know if it had just started then because you're -- remember this is just after the first -- Second World War, and penicillin didn't come in, I think, until towards the end of it. So I'm not sure whether they were treating it -- at that time it was bed rest, good food, etcetera. But I think -- I think it might have been penicillin they were treating them with. I'm not absolutely positive. But some of them went home for productive lives, some didn't. It's like everything else. I think we lost a young child there when I was there. She -- it went onto, oh gosh, I can't even think of the name of the thing, but she died when I was there, and she was just a young little child. But they were -- patients were flown into the san from northern Saskatchewan. I think Fort san existed too. There were two sans, if I remember correctly. Fort San and then the sanatorium here in Saskatoon. They did surgery here, etcetera. And it was interesting. We were -- had classes, etcetera, and I think we were there for about nine weeks. And we lived in residence at the sanatorium. There was a san -- a residence there, and we just went over to the san. And you did all the nursing care that you would have done in an ordinary hospital. And they had -- you used to call it a veranda, and they believed in the fresh air, etcetera, for sanatorium patients. So they'd go out into this veranda, cold or not, but their beds could be moved out, and we could even sleep out. I think there was even a veranda in the residence that you could sleep, you know, in the outdoors type thing. But I don't remember much more. Just trying to think of the san as it was. It was fully staffed. There was a doctor's residence. Actually, the old Bar Room and House, which is a historical site in Saskatoon was the senior doctors, which was Dr. Bouton at the time. And there were three or four houses for the doctors along that street, Avenue K, and this is where they lived. So they lived right on site practically. They had an OR, and I can't remember anything else. The food was the best we ever had though in three years. I can tell you that. It was -- we enjoyed it very much, all of us I'm sure. But we did have classes when we were there too, and there were nurses from Regina. I believe there was a nursing school in PA at the time, and there were some classmates from there, and I think Moose Jaw. There were different schools that came up. And it was very interesting" (Interview: Geogiana Chartier)

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