The panic that’s been set off by the Coronavirus drew me back, once again, to the 100-year-old advice I have sitting on my very own book shelf. A Physician in the House, “written in plain language” by J. H. Greer, M. D. 1915. I’ve been thinking: what did my grandma do when scarlet fever, diphtheria, croup, measles or whooping cough hit home? I leave you with some impressive excerpts.
PRECAUTIONS The sick-room should be large, easily aired and have good sunlight exposure. Sunshine and fresh air are potent remedial agencies in any contagious disease.
ISOLATION No person except the strictly necessary attendants should be allowed to enter the sick-room. These should wear only such clothing as can be washed in boiling water; especially avoid garments made of rough woolen material. Attendants should avoid inhaling the patient’s breath. If the patient coughs in the attendant’s face she should notify the physician as soon as practical.
CLEANLINESS The floor of the sick-room must not be dry-swept. If it becomes necessary to sweep, first sprinkle the floor thoroughly with tea-leaves or sawdust wet with a strong disinfectant — and burn the sweepings at once.
AFTER RECOVERY When the case is ended, soak all sheets, pillow-slips, and towels in strong disinfectant and remove them while wet to the laundry, to be boiled at least thirty minutes. Mattresses and pillows should be burned or sterilized by heat if soiled by discharges from the patient.
DISCHARGES All discharges from the mouth and nose should be received upon pieces of old soft cotton or linen, worn handkerchiefs, and burned at once. Do not allow a cuspidor or other spitting vessel to be used in the sick-room and especially do not allow the patient to spit on the floor.
DISINFECTION As a rule it is the best plan to use the disinfectant which is least dangerous, provided its powers are sufficiently strong to answer the purpose. The following may be mentioned as within the reach of all:
♣ Chlorine Gas: This is one of the most powerful of disinfectants and may be obtained very cheaply. On account of its irritating properties chlorine cannot be used in rooms where persons are confined.
♣ Carbolic Acid: This is an offensive smelling chemical. It is a dangerous article and many deaths have accidentally occurred from its being employed. It will corrode the skin with which it may come in contact.Creosote: This much resembles carbolic acid and is of more value in arresting putrefaction than in disinfection.
♣ Sulphurous Gas: There is no better disinfectant than the gas caused by burning sulphur. It is suffocating and therefore cannot be used where the atmosphere must be breathed.
♣ Sulphate of Zinc: It is the most valuable of all disinfectants for disinfection of clothing. Clothes worn by persons suffering from contagious diseases, as well as their bed clothing should be soaked for at least fort-eight hours.
♣ Coffee: Ordinary coffee, browned and ground, is a most excellent disinfectant and one which is obtainable quickly in nearly every house. It is used by simply sprinkling some of the ground coffee upon a hot stove or upon a red-hot shovel. The odor is not disagreeable and for that reason it can be used in the sick room, especially to overcome the odor of offensive discharges.
Weeded out this week: all the misinformation, panicky language and exaggerated headlines that are clearing grocery store shelves of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. What?