hospital, institution for the care of the sick, maintained by private endowment or public funds or both. General hospitals minister to all types of illness, while special hospitals are concerned with only one disease or group of diseases. Many hospitals are maintained solely for the treatment of military personnel and veterans. Once a pesthouse for the care of the indigent and the friendless, with a quality of treatment and nursing from which few emerged alive, the hospital has flourished with the progress of medicine and surgery. Toward the end of the 19th cent. hospital care was revolutionized by the discovery of anesthesia, improvement in sanitation, establishment of hospital nursing schools, and other advances. Hospitals in large cities have become huge medical centers equipped not only to treat the ill but also to further the education of the medical staff, train a nursing staff, perform vital research into the cause and cure of disease, and help the patient with convalescent and social problems.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.