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Lo Spedale di Poveri, the Hospital for the Poor in Milan: 15th to 20th Century

Villani, Roberto M.D.; Tomei, Giustino M.D.

doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000139489.59304.AB

THE CONSTRUCTION OF the Hospital for the Poor was begun in Milan in 1451 at the instigation of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. In contrast to what had happened during the Dark Ages of the Medieval period, the new hospital was extraordinary both in construction and in medical organization. Wards for the patients were separated according to diseases, infective and noninfective, and according to sex. Each patient had his or her own bed and was fed adequately and kept warm. Patients were no longer treated by astrologers or monks but rather by doctors who had studied medicine at the University of Pavia. Each ward had its own doctor and surgeon, and from 1558 on, there was a doctor on duty in the hospital 24 hours a day. The hospital had its own pharmacy and drug reference book. The Hospital for the Poor, or Cà Granda (Big House), or the Ospedale Maggiore, as it was variously called from the 15th to the 19th centuries, became a training ground for anatomic and clinical studies. It was only in 1929 that a Faculty of Medicine was set up at Ospedale Maggiore.

Department of Neuroscience, Neurosurgical Unit, University of Milan, and Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, Milano, Italy (Villani)

Department of Surgery, Neurosurgical Unit, University of Insubria, and Ospedale di Circolo e Fondazione Macchi, Varese, Italy (Tomei)

Reprint requests: Giustino Tomei, M.D., Neurosurgical Unit, Ospedale di, Circolo e Fondazione Macchi, Viale Borri 57, 21100 Varese, Italy.

Received, January 29, 2004.

Accepted, May 27, 2004.

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons