The first hospitals, however, were nothing of the kind - they were, in fact, places that practiced hospitality - probably what we would refer to as "hostels" today and usually intended to house pilgrims and the like around religious centres. The modern European hospital evolved from later foundations established more or less as hospices for the elderly or sick poor or those suffering from incurable diseases (leprosy being a favourite) such as St Bartholemew's Hospital in London.
Of course, medieval Europe and its hospitals had the dark ages to contend with - hospitals by other names existed at and before that time elsewhere in the world, including the Asclepieia of Greece and their classical equivalents which were temples as well as medical centres, and the more secular valetudinaria1 and beite seper of Rome and Carthage. Advanced medical care was also available in Persia and India and, after their invasion by the early Caliphs, these hospitals were copied by the Islamic empire, combining the knowledge behind them with classical learning from the Mediterranean area.
The other significant task for hospitals is in the training of medical personnel - whether physicians, surgeons, nurses or other professionals. Whether they learn by hands on apprenticeship or only come to clinical work after an initial theoretical training the hospital should provide a useful volume and variety of patients to develop their practical skills.
List of Hospitals
Hospital Maps (External Links)
- Animal Health Care Center
- Bethlehem Royal Hospital - historical floor plan of the infamous "Bedlam".
- CIMED International Health Care - several small clinics without long-term care
- Concord Chapel Animal Hospital
- Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane by Gordon W. Lloyd, 1885
- Swagat Endolaparoscopic Surgical Research Institute
Game and Story Use
- Hospitals are always one of the first places overwhelmed by zombies in the early stages of a zombie apocalypse - because that's where all the zombie infectees are brought before the authorities learn better.
- Historically - and even to this day - a great many hospitals also include medical schools and/or biomedical research facilities. These could serve as a patron either for a doctor PC or for a party prepared to hunt down unusual materials and the like.
- The wrong kind of hospital may have secure wards from which things occasionally escape…
- In most modern instances, any medical professional probably has a "home" hospital where they did the practical phase of their training - pre-modern practitioners less so but might well still have some hospital experience.
- More cynically, some teaching hospitals may have a substantial charitable side in which their students learn their trade treating those unable to afford fully trained help. Care in one of these may be something of a lottery.
- In the modern era, there is also the potential of unethical medical research taking place, especially in dystopian settings.