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RICHMOND COUNTY ALMSHOUSE.
Port Richmond, N. Y. Since the county of Richmond was made a part of the city of New York, under the name of “ The Borough of Richmond,” the control of the almshouse at Port Richmond has been assumed by the Department of Charities of the city. Its maintenance is provided for in the general budget, and such matters as are necessary from time to time are now ordered by the department. This change of relations has worked to the advantage of the almshouse itself. The city of New York is better able and more willing to appropriate funds for repairs and betterments than was the county. One other and perhaps even a greater advantage is the coördination with the other charities of the city. It is now possible to classify the almshouse inmates, and send to other places those whom it is not desirable to keep in this institution.
There are seventeen buildings, one of them about one hundred years old, the others more or less modern, but all somewhat out of date for almshouse purposes where a population is as mixed as it has been in this institution. The transfer of some of the inmates now kept here, to Blackwell's or Randall's Island will be advantageous, for these buildings can be turned to good account in the final distribution of the wards of the city.
Probably because the plan of classification has not been decided upon, no improvements to these buildings have been attempted. They are still lighted by kerosene lamps and heated by hot air furnaces and stoves. The ventilation is by doors and windows only, and the bathing facilities are inadequate. When the classification plan is elaborated, changes must be made in these conditions as well as in the general sanitation and means of escape in event of fire.
The care of the sick is somewhat primitive, so far as accommodations are concerned. A two-story frame building, originally designed for the laundry, is now used as the hospital for women; however, only the first floor is in service, and on this are eight beds. The men are cared for on the first floor of the men's building, and on this floor the hospital consists of a room which contains twelve beds. The ventilation is poor, and the sick are not at all comfortable.
The general care of the grounds and outbuildings, as well as those devoted to residence, is excellent. The food was pronounced abundant and satisfactory by the inmates. It is hoped that steps will be taken to coördinate all the almshouses and public hospitals of the city, that there may be soon a proper classification of all public charges, in which event the Richmond almshouse will have an appropriate place.
KINGS COUNTY ALMSHOUSE.
Flatbush, N. Y. Including the employes, who numbered 52, the population of the Kings County Almshouse at Flatbush on the 31st of December, 1901, numbered 1,321 persons. Of this total, 732 were adult males and 589 were adult females. On the same day, in the Kings County Hospital there were under treatment 361 male adults, 156 female adults, 31 male children and 40 female children. Besides these there were in the hospital 77 unpaid male helpers, 7 unpaid female helpers, 83 male employes and 90 female employes, a total of 845 persons. The unpaid help were all convalescents who were retained to assist in the work until completely recovered.
In the Neurological Hospital there were 66 male adults and 58 female adults under treatment, 3 male employes and 4 female employes, a total of 131 persons.
In the pavilions for feeble-minded there were 15 male children, 24 female children, 22 male adults, 42 female adults, 3 male employes, and 7 female employes, a total of 113, making a grand total for the Flatbush institution of 2,410.
This number covered the administrative as well as the pauper population. It included the training school for nurses, the resident medical staff, the mechanical department, stable and trans. portation helpers, storehouse, bookkeeping and drug departments. The total number of employes and assistants of all kinds was 326, of whom 190 were connected with the hospital service and 136 with the almshouse.
The buildings used by these institutions have been greatly improved within the last three years, and now are in a markedly better condition than ever before. The additions, extensions, and new buildings have not only changed the general appearance but increased the efficiency of all departments. However, in spite of the improvements which have been made, these buildings are not yet adequately equipped for the great service they are called upon to perform each year. For example, the heating plant, which might have been sufficient for the buildings as they stood four years ago, is not sufficient for the institution as it stands with all the recent new buildings and additions. At the present time there are two heating plants, each independent of the other, one at the almshouse and the other at the hospital, and both are very old, the one at the hospital being in a very dilapidated condition. If there were a consolidation of these heating plants, and a proper installation of the additional boilers necessary to furnish all the heat and power required, several economies could be practiced which are now impossible.
At the present time the electric light is furnished by the Flatbush Gas Company, and in 1901 this cost the city $10,869.17, yet during the same time the cost of the coal for the heating plants was $16,170.98. Two years ago a new heating and lighting plant, centrally located and arranged to supply all the buildings, was recommended by the State Board of Charities. This is still the only economical method to provide proper facilities for the insti. tution. Such a plant could be built for an estimated cost of $125,000, and as a result there could be a saving of $10,000 for electric light, $6,510 in the cost of labor rendered unnecessary, while the new plant would burn at least twenty per cent. less coal, so that a heat and power plant, properly constructed, would result in a total saving of nearly $20,000 per annum. The need of such a plant is imperative, as something must be done to increase the resources of the institution in this direction.
The almshouse buildings have had a number of improvements made during the year. The plumbing was entirely overhauled, many of the buildings refurnished, and the workrooms and dining-rooms located in the basements repainted and receiled. As the buildings are all quite old, it is necessary to provide extensive repairs from year to year.
There is not sufficient room to accommodate the large number of people who are committed to and maintained in this insti. tution, so that it has been necessary to transfer the care of the State
poor committed from the city of New York from this institution to the almshouse on Blackwell's Island. Even this relief is not sufficient to meet the need for room. At least two additional pavilions are required to furnish adequate accommodation for the population. The fact that there are no day rooms in the almshouse buildings, the entire space being required for dormitory purposes, has been keenly felt, especially in stormy weather, when men have crowded into one room and the halls to find shelter from the inclemencies. Such pavilions as were proposed heretofore would provide not only sitting, or day rooms, but also work rooms, and enable the dining rooms to be removed from the dark, ill-ventilated basements, for location above ground, where they could be made light, cheerful and comfortable. Under present circumstances it is impossible to do the work which ought to be done in this institution, as there is no place for work other than in poor dark rooms below the surface of the ground.
THE FEEBLE-MINDED. Besides these pavilions, the provision made for the feebleminded has not been found adequate. The distribution of this class of public charges in the several almshouses of the city makes it necessary to have sufficient accommodations at Flatbush for a large number of persons. As is shown above, 113 persons must be accommodated in the two pavilions now set aside for the use of the feeble-minded. If the suggestions here. tofore made to the Commissioner of Public Charities of the city of New York are adopted, and a regrouping of all of this class of defectives be accomplished, these two pavilions will find proper employment in connection with the hospital work itself, and the removal of the feeble-minded will relieve some of the present strain. All the feeble-minded ought to find domiciles in the State institutions, but until the State institutions are enlarged sufficiently to accommodate all of this class now in the almshouses of the State, it will be necessary to provide for a large number in the institutions of the city of New York. It is not required, however, that they be retained in the scattered groups of the present time. All the feeble-minded below adult age could be sent properly to Randall's Island. It would be inexpedient, perhaps unwise, to send any of the adults of this class to that island. There the feeble-minded are in school under instruction and employment in various industries suitable to their powers. The presence of a large number of adults would interfere seriously with the course of instruction. But while the adults ought not to be permitted to interfere with the work on Randall's Island, there are other places in the city