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Compliance with the Public Health
(CHAPTER 661, LAWS OF 1893, AS AMENDED BY CHAPTER 667 OF
THE LAWS OF 1900, RELATIVE “TO INSTITUTIONS FOR ORPHANS,
In Institutions Under Private Control but in Receipt
of Public Moneys.
Compliance with the Public Health Law.
CHAPTER 661, LAWS OF 1893, As amended by Chapter 667 of the Laws of 1900, Relative “To Institutions for Orphans, Destitute or Vagrant Children or Juvenile Delinquents,” under Private Control but in Receipt
of Public Moneys. The provisions of the Public Health Law which relate to children's institutions were first enacted in 1886. They were the outgrowth of several years of agitation on the part of individual physicians and of medical and charitable societies to remedy the unsanitary and dangerous conditions which prevailed in many of the children's institutions of the State.
The first definite demand that the State should fix by law certain requirements for cubic air space, food, ventilation and drainage, and that both children and institutions should be regularly subjected to expert medical examination, is contained in a paper by Dr. Cornelius R. Agnew, read before the New York State Medical Society in 1882. The immediate cause of this agitation was the appalling prevalence of contagious ophthalmia.
In 1885 the committee on hygiene of the New York State Medical Society, Dr. E. V. Stoddard, chairman, presented a paper by Dr. Richard H. Derby upon "Contagious Ophthalmia in Some of the Asylums in New York City.” This was read also before the New York County Medical Society and the New York Academy of Medicine. The conditions therein described aroused such a conviction of the necessity for action that the Academy of Medicine called a joint committee of the State Board of Charities, the State Charities Aid Association and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to confer with the council of the Academy.* This committee was appointed on June 23, 1885. Abstracts from the report prepared by this committee, together with a proposed act as presented by Dr. Derby, are printed in the Transactions of the New York State Medical Society for 1886. Still more exhaustive statistics of existing conditions are contained in this report.
On June 14th of this year the proposed act, with some modifications, became chapter 633 of the Laws of 1886, taking effect October 1st. The modifications were such as to give discretionary powers to the attending physician as to the length of quarantine, and to the local health board in the matter of air space in the dormitories.
The laws of 1893 embodied this chapter in the general Public Health Law. Certain sections were consolidated, and the arrangement and wording of some phrases were altered. Practi. cally the only change in its provisions was the omission of the section:
“No child suffering from any contagious or infectious disease, especially of the eyes or skin, shall be allowed to enter or remain in any such institution in contact with any children not so afilicted, unless it shall immediately be isolated or placed in a proper room or infirmary which shall be provided for that purpose by the officers of the institution under the direction of paid physician.”
This provision is practically covered by regulations of the local boards of health.
An amendment in 1900 merely renumbers the sections.
INQUIRY INSTITUTED BY THE BOARD. For the purpose of ascertaining how great a degree of com. pliance had been accorded this law in the fifteen years of its operation, 148 of the children's institutions of the State were
• See New York Medical Record June 13, 1886.