The Charitable Society had resolved to set up Belfast’s first hospital at its inaugural meeting in 1752. The hospital formed part of the original Poor House complex which finally opened in 1774. A string of prominent physicians and surgeons served the destitute and ill in the hospital including Dr William Drennan (founder of the United Irishmen), Dr. James McDonnell (heralded for his work on the resuscitation of drowning victims) and the Purdon family (who served as doctors in the Poor House from one generation to the next for over a century). Our Minute Books demonstrate that January was a particularly busy time for hospital admissions to the Poor House throughout our history.
Two hundred year ago, on 9th January 1819 a young boy named James Hamill was admitted as a hospital patient. Poor James had previously been a resident in the Poor House, but his family circumstances must have improved as he had left the Poor House and ceased to be ‘an imate’. However, he was admitted to the hospital until 1st March 1819 “to get his head cured”, as he had what they termed scald-head, a form of fungal infection. The fungal infection was cured by the 1st May 1819, when he was discharged from the hospital.