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    Medical Sociology/History

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    The Roman Catholic Church is considered to be a major contributor to the framing of hospital systems, as an extension of its duty to succor the sick and indigent. Early hospitals, although lacking in strict hygienic practices, promoted social equity as a means to care for marginalized members of society. The poor, aged, homeless, military soldiers, crippled, orphans, injured, and sick were warehoused and cared for by duty-bound monks and nuns. At the time, these early hospitals were without benefit of regulations or policies that protected patients from living in unclean conditions, being subjected to inferior standards of care, abuse, neglect, and misappropriation of funds.
    Source: Risse, Guenter B. (1999). Mending bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals. NY: Oxford University Press.

    What do you think was the influence of the church as a model for hospitals during the Renaissance and Reformation eras? How effective have hospitals been as poorhouses?

    What was the impact of mixing the sick and poor in terms of hygiene, sanitation, and patient safety?

    Justify your answers with appropriate research and reasoning and comment on the postings of at least two peers.

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    Solution Preview


    This is a tough question and part of it is because which country you you discuss will matter - a good part of my answer addresses the results of the impact of the Church on medicine in the U.S. but this is well past the Reformation era (1600s). Remember that the Church (meaning the Catholic Church) was the center for knowledge so it shaped approaches to science as well as medicine. I suspect that your course readings and notes offer some information for you in terms of how to proceed with this assignment.

    One thing to keep in mind is how social institutions like the Church shaped knowledge - for example Galileo was condemned by the church for claiming that the earth revolved around the sun and many of his scientific discoveries and experiments that shaped modern medicine were discounted because it questioned the teaching of the Church. Due to the power of the Church, any society that was centered on Catholicism therefore developed out of the beliefs of the church and so the evolution of medicine and science was originally based on religious principles as were beliefs about the poor, which we still see shaping society today. For example if you look at some of the discussion around the current Occupy and revolutionary movements happening today, people sometimes describe the protestors as 'lazy' and that they need to just 'get a job and be a productive member of society.' This impacts the public's and government's willingness (or lack there of) to support the poor but unfavorable ideas about the poor began long before governments helped them and charity was left to religious institutions.

    Think in ...

    Solution Summary

    The solution provides advise, insight and discussion on the topic of medical sociology with a particular focus on the influence of the church in the creation of hospital models during the Renaissance and Reformation and its impact in how the sick and the poor where treated.