5. Florence Nightingale Influenced the Hospital’s Low Mortality Rate

The morgue at the Ellis Island Hospital

Ellis Island Hospital was not initially set up to treat infectious diseases. The government didn’t provide sufficient funding nor were there enough beds for the large influx of immigrants. Alas, many of the first sick patients were taken to the mainland until the high demand called for adequate facilities to be built on the island. The hospital eventually grew to be the largest public health facility in the country. Though a plethora of diseases were present in the hospital, steps were made to deter cross contamination. 

The concept was simple: separate patients with different infectious diseases, a “pavilion” style plan based on Florence Nightingale’s theory. This was accomplished by putting doors at least twenty-five yards away from the next, or putting highly contagious diseases on different floors. Rooms never faced each other so the diseases weren’t transmitted easily. They also made sure to separate the maternity ward (see #3) from patients with infectious diseases using a 100-yard waterway. Thanks to this system, the Ellis Island Hospital was on par with any other hospital in the world. There were only about 4,000 mortalities which amounted to about 2% of the patients.