Exploring Albany's inglorious past and dubious future

The Tuberculosis Sanatorium of Albany Hospital: 1912-1954

tuberculosis

The Tuberculosis Sanatorium of the Albany Hospital was located on the west side of Tudor Road, between Western and Washington Avenues, closer to Washington. Tudor Road was previously called Magazine Street, and continued to Washington Avenue. Most of Tudor Road – including the site of this facility – was razed to make way for the State Campus.

From a 1941 Knickerbocker News article (“Albany Hospital’s 90 Years of Service Marked by Struggle,” by Lewis S. Greenleaf, Treasurer, Board of Governors, Albany Hospital): “The problem of caring for cases of tuberculosis was taken up in 1909 when the hospital was taking care of ‘14 tuberculosis patients in tents’ and Dr. Howard van Rensselaer was interested in a camp for tubercular patients near the Albany Country Club known as the Albany Sanatorium and Red Cross Camp. Negotiations were carried on with the county viewing erection of a suitable sanatorium by either the county or hospital, which resulted in the hospital taking over the property of the Albany Sanatorium and Red Cross Camp on Western and erecting a hospital for tuberculosis patients at a cost of $30,000, paid for by subscriptions of interested citizens, and completed in 1912.”

The Tuberculosis Sanatorium continued under the control of the hospital governors, and financed through “public-spirited citizens.” The Albany County Tuberculosis Association conducted annual fund drives (1927 goal: $20,000) to keep it going.

The refuge sheltered victims “without regard to race, color or creed, aristocratic or lowly being welcome.” In 1927, it held 98 patients, 21 of them children, with a long waiting list of juveniles. Mr William E. Lawson was the director.

sanatorium

In the early 1930’s, the Hun Memorial Building at Albany Hospital was opened to provide bed care for more patients, and the Sanatorium was improved. Upon his retirement in 1955, Dr. Reuben J. Erickson, a TB specialist at Albany Hospital, said, “Bed care was doubly important in those days, when there were no drugs and little surgery to combat the disease.”

The Tuberculosis Sanatorium of the Albany Hospital closed on December 31, 1954, in light of medical and surgical advances that had changed treatment of the disease (new drugs – streptomycin, PAS, and isoniazid – were discovered and combined to this end). Dr. Thomas T. Hale, then-director of the hospital, said “Albany Hospital will continue to operate its Hun Memorial, a building on the hospital grounds, for care of tuberculosis patients. Hun Memorial and the sanatorium have been operated as a single unit by the hospital.” Dr. R.J. Erickson, director of the Albany County Tuberculosis Association, said the sanatorium “needed extensive repairs and would have had to be largely rebuilt or abandoned even if it had not been taken by the state.” He added, “Hun Memorial and other sanatoria in the Capital District would be ‘quite adequate’ to care for the reduced number of tuberculosis patients.”
sanatorium

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