The Face Mask – A Life-Saving Device Pioneered by Dr. Wu Lien-teh

The history of the masks that we wear have their roots in a few different areas, including both from the medical community, as well as from the Personal Protective Equipment of firefighters and soldiers in the late 19th and early 20th century. The first surgical mask came in 1899 when Carl Flügge (1847-1923) was working on tuberculosis research when he developed his droplet theory of infection. This theory proved that microorganisms can be expelled as droplets from the respiratory tract and reach another person. Flügge, his pupils, and successors conducted further experiments to determine that droplets are especially expelled during activities of talking, coughing, blowing, and sneezing. … More The Face Mask – A Life-Saving Device Pioneered by Dr. Wu Lien-teh

The Plague Doctor, Popular Culture, and COVID-19

At the time when doctors believed that miasmic fumes were responsible for the transfer illnesses, rather than germ theory, medical professionals developed elaborate outfits to protect against the believed noxious air. The bubonic plague ravaged across Europe and Asia through the 14th to 17th centuries, with the prevailing theory was that it was caused by the miasmic theory of “malignant air”. In reality, the bubonic plague was actually spread when infected fleas from small animals entered into the human system by a flea bite. “The Plague Doctor” uniform was quite useless in assisting to protect against the disease, which killed an estimated 200 million people worldwide. But in many ways, the protective uniform worn by these doctors seems similar to what current medical professionals wear when treating those with infectious diseases. … More The Plague Doctor, Popular Culture, and COVID-19

Quarantine and Isolation: A Brief History of Public Health Measures Against Infectious Disease

“From isolation in the home to the closure of public spaces, history contains many pertinent lessons in the control of infectious disease.” By now, most of us are no strangers to the idea of quarantine. “Self-isolation” and “social distancing” have come to be the new normal for many people all over the world as we … More Quarantine and Isolation: A Brief History of Public Health Measures Against Infectious Disease

Getting a Leg Up: A Brief History of Prosthetics through the lens of our collection

Though Ernest was a farmer, and—according to family—was not a particularly wealthy individual, he was lucky enough to acquire two full, well-made, advanced prosthetic legs. The history of an individual prosthetic limb can be difficult to trace, as good documentation is often lacking. The Museum of Health Care at Kingston has six prosthetic limbs in … More Getting a Leg Up: A Brief History of Prosthetics through the lens of our collection

Curative Architecture: The Healthful Design of Rockwood Asylum

In July of 1856 thirty-six acres of an estate west of Portsmouth Village, previously owned by politician John Cartwright, were purchased by the United Province of Canada East and Canada West. The intended purpose of the land? To become the home of a future asylum, intended to house both the “criminally insane” of Kington Penitentiary … More Curative Architecture: The Healthful Design of Rockwood Asylum

A Tribute to Canada’s Nurses: Celebrating Nursing Week 2013

In Canada, the hard work and dedication of nurses is formally recognized during National Nursing Week, the second week of May.  International Nurses Day, designated by the International Council of Nurses in 1974, is celebrated on May 12th.  This day was chosen as significant because it is Florence Nightingale’s birthday. … More A Tribute to Canada’s Nurses: Celebrating Nursing Week 2013

Grin and Bear It: Toothache Day and Why It Was Best to Avoid the Dentist in the Ancient World

February 9th marks Toothache Day, a day to celebrate… toothaches? Toothache Day is a reminder to all to see the dentist regularly. And count your blessings that you aren’t suffering from a toothache in the Ancient or Medieval Worlds! … More Grin and Bear It: Toothache Day and Why It Was Best to Avoid the Dentist in the Ancient World