1914 Destroy Bad Food Of State Asylums

Shocking Conditions Found by Federal Inspectors in a Sweeping Inquiry.
Condition “Bordering on Savagery” at Binghamton
Milk from Tubercular Cows at Poughkeepsie.
Special to The New York Times.

ALBANY, May 8. – For eighteen months, according to information received to-day by Commissioner John H. Delaney of the Department of Efficiency and Economy, the insane patients of the Hudson River State Hospital at Poughkeepsie were supplied with milk from tubercular cows belonging to the institution and purchased with the State’s money. Mr. Delaney learned that in that period twenty-three gravely afflicted milch cows of the hospital’s own herd were condemned.

An investigation at once will be made by Commissioner Delaney to ascertain whether the animals were suffering from tuberculosis when they were purchased or whether the disease developed among them after they became the property of the institution.

The State Hospital Commission, which is responsible for the management of the State Hospitals for the Insane, has as yet made no official answer to the accusations contained in the reports of Inspectors of the Department of Efficiency and Economy. It was learned to-day, however, that when an inspection of the food supply at the various institutions was made some weeks ago by experts from the Bureau of Animal Industry of the United States Department of Agriculture, the Hospital Commission started to make some inquiries about conditions at the fourteen institutions under its supervision.

According to information obtained to-day complaints were received from several institutions regarding the quality of the beef after the commission contracted for a three months’ supply of Argentine beef. Inspector Phillips then urged the commission to have an inquiry made by two Federal Inspectors, and his advice was followed.

The reports of these inspectors have been in the hands of the State Hospital Commission since early in April, but have not been made pubic. The inspectors reported deplorable conditions at nearly every institution they visited.

At the Utica State Hospital the Federal inspectors were compelled to order the destruction of a large quantity of lard used in the making of bread because it was rancid. The bakery at the institution, they said, was “unclean beyond belief.” The floor and walls they found “in a vile state.” Conditions, they said, were “a grave menace to employes and inmates of the institution.”

They found 500 pounds of pork and seven carcasses of mutton which were unfit for food. After discovering that forty dozen of eggs out of a total supply of seventy-five dozen were decayed, they were informed by the kitchen employes that it had been the practice to feed the patients with such eggs.

At the Buffalo State Hospital the Inspectors ordered the destruction of meat unfit for human consumption; at Central Islip they condemned eggs and 200 pounds of beef; at Willard a barrel of fat, intended, it was asserted, for cooking purposes, was condemned.

Similar conditions were reported at the Binghamton State Hospital. A condition described as “bordering on savagery” was found by the Federal Inspectors in the storeroom of the Mohansic State Hospital at Yorktown Heights. At the Rochester State Hospital the inspectors ordered the entire supply of eggs on hand, 320 dozen, destroyed as unfit for food. A supply of bacon and beef in the storeroom, the inspectors said, should not be used for food. Employees at the Middletown State Hospital told the inspectors most of the eggs used for the patients at the institution were decayed.

Commissioner Delaney said to-day that reports from investigators of this department who have been inquiring into conditions at the Long Island State Hospital in Flatbush show “dreadful” conditions at that institution. The investigation of the Efficiency and Economy Department thus far has been confined to the mechanical equipment of the hospital, but Federal Inspectors have made inquiries regarding the food.

The Federal Inspectors report that many of the eggs at this institution are classified in the trade as “rots” and “spots” and “weak and cloudy” eggs. Employes said that the grade of eggs furnished to the institution was extremely poor. The Federal Inspectors found 200 pounds of moldy bacon and two tubs of rancid lard.

An engineer employed by the Department of Efficiency and Economy found the floors and ceilings of the institution in a bad and dangerous condition. The menace to the inmates in case of fire, the engineer said, was very grave, owing to a defective fire alarm system and improperly marked stairways and exits. The sanitary conditions of the institution the expert called “a mockery” of conditions that should obtain.

SOURCE: The New York Times, Published: May 9, 1914, Copyright @ The New York Times