The number of the sick now in the hospitals is less than it ever has been before since their organization. This is not to be attributed so much to the diminution of sickness in the command as to the policy of the medical director, which is to have the sick of the regiments taken care of by the regimental surgeons in camps and regimental hospitals. It is proper in light cases, which are not likely to continue but for a few days, that they should be taken care of, and they will do well in camp and regimental hospitals; but in serious cases, which are likely to be of long duration, where careful nursing and properly-prepared died are required, the general hospital is to be preferred.
Where general hospitals have been established, as in this city, there can be no necessity for renting other buildings for the purpose of establishing regimental hospitals. The very sick of the regiment can readily be sent to the general hospital and light cases taken care of in the barracks or camps.
With the hospital accommodations which we now have and with the re-establishment of the convalescent barracks there will be sufficient accommodation for the very sick of this division. There are about twenty-three hundred beds in the general hospitals in this city, with some two or three hundred more which can be had at the City and Sisters' Hospitals, if required.
Much has been said of the enormous expenditures of fitting up these hospitals and the great cost of maintaining the same. Representations have been made to the Medical Department at Washington to this effect. We desire to correct any such impressions, that will convince any candid ming of the erroneousness of such representations.
The duty of procuring buildings for and fitting up hospitals devolved upon the Sanitary Commission. Under the directions of the medical director six buildings were procured, at a rent of $2,360 per month, or about $1 per month for each bed, or 3 1/3 cents per day per bed. The cost of fitting up and preparing all these buildings for hospital purposes, including alterations, erection of furnaces, bath-rooms, water-closets, heating and cooking stoves, gas-fixtures, with bedsteads, mattresses, tables, and chairs, was about $28,000, which is 3 1/3 cents per day for one year for each bed. Surely this does not look like extravagance.
Another complaint is that civilians are employed as nurses and attendants, when the regulations prescribe that soldiers shall be employed. When these hospitals were first organized our Army was forming. The volunteers were raw and undisciplined, and needed to be drilled and made soldiers of. Besides, our volunteers had offered their services for the field, and not for such duties as are required in the hospital, and if forced to perform them, would do so reluctantly and imperfectly, and consequently the sick would be made to suffer. General Fremont ordered that civilians should be employed as nurses, which has been done at a cost of $15 per month. The soldier employed in the hospital, including extra pay and clothing, would cost $24 per month. The amount paid for attendance of all kinds, including apothecaries, book-keepers, stewards, nurses, cooks, and waiters, is about $7,200 per month. This does not include surgeon and assistant surgeons. Were civilians employed as such, the whole expense per annum would be $70,000 less than it would be for similar hospitals wholly organized under the Army Regulations.
The entire expense per day, including fitting up the hospitals, rents, matrons, and attendants, will not exceed 33 1/3 cents. There were some