Wards at Pleiestiftelsen

The rooms for the residents were relatively large and could accommodate seven people. A report from Pleiestiftelsen Hospital in 1860 describes the contents of each of the patient rooms, referred to as ‘sick wards.’

The beds were made of iron with mattresses made from eelgrass. This plant grows in shallow seawater in many places. It has traditionally been used as insulation, for upholstering furniture and padding mattresses. Some of the sickest patients had mattresses of krøllhår, a material made of animal hair, usually horse or cow hair. It was well suited for padding mattresses and upholstering furniture because it held its shape and didn’t absorb moisture.

From inventory list 1873. Regional State Archives of Bergen.
A record of inventory from 1873 lists 288 ‘iron beds’.
The Regional State Archives of Bergen.

Over the mattress, there was a thinner mattress and a pillow padded with wool. In addition, there were sheets of duck cloth, a linen fabric, and wool blankets. In 1863, the annual report describes that all mattresses had to be cleaned and, in part, renewed because of ‘bed bugs.’ Several reports indicate that some of the residents re-stuffed and repaired the mattresses as part of their work duties.

From inventory list 1873. Regional State Archives of Bergen.
In 1873, the hospital had 300 eel grass mattresses, 300 wool mattresses and 30 made with animal hair.
The Regional State Archives of Bergen.

A few years after Pleiestiftelsen Hospital opened, wardrobes were made that stood in the wide corridors. This was described as a major advance because it meant that patient rooms could be ‘freed from a lot of the residents’ belongings, clothes and other things, for which there was previously no special repository’. Although the bedrooms were relatively large, it must still have been quite cramped given that seven people each had their own bed as well as their clothes and belongings.

Oil lamps were used for lighting, and in each room there was a wood or coke stove. One of the requisition records of those keeping track of finances in the 1890s shows that someone was paid for the ‘sweeping of 127 stoves’.

Accounting records, Pleiestiftelsen. Regional State Archives of Bergen.
 The procurement records shows that Jens Jensen has been paid to sweep 127 stoves.
The Regional State Archives of Bergen.

From Pleiestiftelsen hospital's annual report 1857. Bergen City Archives.
In an annual report from 1857, head physician Løberg describes a fairly large proportion of the residents spending most of the day in their rooms. ‘I have divided the residents into 3 classes according to their state of health, namely into those who are able to carry out some work and can therefore spend the day in the workrooms, those who are not bedridden but are so weak that they are unable to work and therefore remain in their rooms during the day, and finally those who, due to illness and exhaustion, remain bedridden.’ Hence at the end of 1857, there were 112 residents on the patient wards and about 80 of those were bedridden.
Bergen City Archives.

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