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To the State Board of Charities:
For the purposes of inspection the Second Judicial District is divided into two parts, one of which covers Kings and Queens counties, now incorporated in the city of New York, and the other the several counties of the district outside the city. Since the organization of Greater New York the public charities of Kings county, while operated independently of the other bor. oughs, have been provided for by the common treasury. In the original charter of the greater city, Brooklyn was organized as a borough with its own commissioner of charities, and staff of officials, and the several borough commissioners were united in one general department of charities, the president of which was the commissioner for the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx.
Under the revised charter, which became operative on the 1st day of January, 1902, the public charities of the several boroughs are united in one department, a single commissioner of charities having the management and control of the public charitable institutions in all the boroughs. Brooklyn and Richmond have deputy commissioners who are responsible for the proper management of the almshouses and hospitals in their respective boroughs. Kings and Queens counties, therefore, should be considered hereafter in connection with the public charities of the city rather than as counties maintaining independent
IMPROVEMENTS. A number of improvements were made in the Flatbush institutions during the past year, and gradually the almshouse and hospital are being brought to a satisfactory condition. This is especially true of the hospital. Within the year changes have
taken place which are calculated to promote the comfort of all the patients. Wards which in the past were dark and gloomy are now light and cheerful. The sanitary conditions have been improved, and a better classification conduces to the welfare of all the patients.
In the almshouse the crowded dormitories and general lack of accommodations have worked against the welfare of the inmates. At all seasons of the year this almshouse has been crowded, and in stormy weather--especially during the cold season the large number of inmates has made the wards very uncomfortable. These conditions are to be changed. The construction of pavilions for work and recreation will afford the inmates opportunities for change of air, which lack of room heretofore bas made impossible. Hereafter they can use the pavilions for shelter when it is undesirable to have them in the open air. By the use of the pavilions during the day the general dormitories can be aired, and thus the health of the inmates will be promoted.
In the counties outside of the city of New York, conditions have shown a tendency toward improvement. One county is engaged in the erection of an entirely new set of buildings for its almshouse. In the other counties attention has been given to repairs and to improvements calculated to promote safety. The matters of fire protection, water, hospitals and classification have been considered more or less, and, on the whole, throughout the Second District, it may be said the year has been fruitful, and there is a clear indication of a purpose on the part of the authorities to make ample provision for the welfare of the public dependents under their charge.
DUTCHESS COUNTY ALMSHOUSE.
Millbrook, N. Y. At the date of writing this report plans have been approved and contracts let for the construction of a new almshouse for Dutchess county. For years the old wooden buildings have been unsatisfactory for many reasons. The sanitary conditions
have jeopardized health; the construction of the dormitories and the lack of help have prevented proper care of the inmates.
The location of the old alms house is bad, being very near, and all the drainage of the institution discharging into, a tract of swampy ground. It was originally intended to have the new buildings erected on higher land and at a considerable distance from this spot, but the last report of inspection indicates a purpose to build on the site now in use. The buildings are to be removed, and pending the erection of the new almshouse, the inmates will be transferred to the Amenia Seminary, which is at some distance from the county farm.
It is to be regretted that an opportunity to relocate the almshouse has not been embraced. All the sanitary conditions could be improved by building on the higher ground, miasmatic exhala. tions from the swamp be avoided, and it would be possible to keep the ground in much better condition as the natural drainage would carry off storm water.
At the time the plans were approved the architect stated that the buildings were to be located on the higher ground, but some influence has been brought to bear upon the supervisors, and the old site is now substituted for that recommended in former reports.
The general plan of the proposed buildings is similar to that recommended by the State Board some years ago; the dormitories are to be placed on each side of a central work and service building, the administration building forming the front of the group. All the buildings are to be connected by corridors which will afford protection to the inmates in stormy weather, and comfortable places for sun, rest and air at other times.
It is likely that the present power house will be retained for service in connection with the new buildings. It is hardly large enough, and if this was the principal reason for location upon the old grounds the county could have well afforded the cost of a new power house rather than have lost the opportunity of properly placing this important institution, which is intended to serve for a century.
At the time of the last inspection the almshouse was found in a generally clean condition; the grounds were orderly; the premises have been kept fairly free from vermin, although the practice of hanging wearing apparel upon the walls furnishes opportunity for vermin to harbor. It was noted, however, that the store rooms were in a disorderly and unclean condition.
Complaint has been made that the physician employed to visit the almshouse bas not made visits with such regularity as is necessary. IIe is said to give ample attention in cases of acute attacks and to be very prompt in his service whenever special cases require attention, but at other times his visits are very irregular. I physician who could devote more time to the service of the almshouse would probably be more useful.
The food in the main has been satisfactory, although during the winter but two meals are served daily, and the meals have little variety from day to day.
POUGHKEEPSIE CITY ALMSHOUSE.
Poughkeepsie, N. Y. This institution is one of the best almshouses not only in this district but in the State. Its management is satisfactory, the inmates are contented because well cared for.
It has a fine group of well located brick buildings, with the several parts connected by inclosed corridors. At the time of the several
inspections it was reported in excellent condition throughout, clean, well furnished, and in arrangement up-to-date.
Recently a new brick storehouse and carriage barn, with a fine cellar underneath, has been added to the group; new floors have been laid in some of the buildings. These with outside stairs as fire-escapes from the rear buildings, and steel ceilings and general repairs, constitute the recent improvements.
In the matter of fire protection, stand pipes and hose connections have been installed on all the fioors, so that as far as ordinary foresight can provide protection it has been made. It is expected that more fire-escapes will be placed on the main buildings. Although there is very little danger of a fire, in view of the height of the buildings and the character of the inmates it is deemed essential to have this provision for escape in time of danger. The abundant supply of water furnished by the Poughkeepsie city water system is a great protection,
The bathing facilities are the same as at the report of the committee a year ago, consisting of four zinc tubs, two of which are intended for each sex. It is hoped that spray baths will be installed in a short time, and when this is done it is proposed to put in a sterilizer to make complete the laundry equipment.
The board of charity of the city of Poughkeepsie, which manages this institution, has worked on broad lines and endeavored to make this almshouse a model, so far as equipment and liberal support can do it. The almshouse is a credit to the city and shows what can be done when an intelligent commission undertakes to solve the problems of the almshouse.
The last step taken by the superintendent, under the direction of the Board of Managers, is in the direction of classification of the sick. All suffering from special forms of communicable disease are now isolated. Owing to the frequent presence of many persons afflicted with contagious diseases, it might be well to have a special hospital building as an annex to the almshouse.