Caring for Tubercular Invalids: Florence Standish R.N. - CSPM
Florence Standish in US Army Uniform. ca. 1918

Caring for Tubercular Invalids: Florence Standish R.N.

by Leah Davis Witherow, CSPM Curator of History

In the early twentieth century, over fifteen institutions in the Pikes Peak Region offered care and treatment to tubercular patients at any one time. While some sanatoriums operated for decades, others were in business for only a few short years. The largest institutions housed hundreds of patients while the smallest cared for only a handful. Essentially, patients could find all the care they could afford.

Locally, dozens of boarding houses catered to invalids in addition to the countless health-seekers who lived in hotels and private residences. For those of modest means, canvas tents provided refuge in public parks, empty lots and even in the backyards of local residents. A number of smaller sanatoria under the supervision of nurses appealed to clients for their “home-like” atmosphere and “affordable” price.

Nurse-run Nob Hill Lodge and Idlewold were both located east of the city near present day Memorial Hospital. Idlewold, also known occasionally as Idlewild, was established in 1912 at 311 North Logan. Sisters Lois & Clarice Shardlow, both registered nurses, operated the ten-room facility. According to contemporary advertisements Idlewold offered, “… convalescents, tuberculars, and all others requiring fresh air treatment commodious sleeping porches, wholesome, nutritious food, and general nursing care in a location unsurpassed with commanding views of the mountains.”

Registered Nurse Florence Standish opened Nob Hill Lodge, “A Home for Tuberculars” in 1912 after serving as Superintendent at National Deaconess Sanitarium and then later at Beth-El Hospital. According to first-hand accounts, Standish offered excellent medical care in a comfortable, home-like environment. Patient Ida Gwynne Garvin described, “We have plenty of substantial food, about everything you could think of first and last. Milk is served with all meals…”

Historic photo of Patients at Nob Hill Lodge.
Patients at Nob Hill Lodge partaking in the "fresh air cure," which required them to sleep in wood huts, canvas tents or sleeping porches year round. ca. 1912-1925. Photo from the CSPM Collection
Nob Hill Lodge was located at 319 North Logan Street. ca. 1912-1925. Photo from the CSPM Collection.
Nob Hill Lodge was located at 319 North Logan Street. ca. 1912-1925. Photo from the CSPM Collection.

After the United States entered WWI in 1917, Florence Standish and many other local nurses and physicians joined the military to help care for sick and wounded soldiers. In July 1918, Dr. Henry W. Hoagland wrote to Nurse Standish, asking her to join him at the new US General Hospital No. 19, outside Asheville, North Carolina. “I want you to go into service and to be Chief Nurse.” Both Standish and Hoagland were notable in Colorado Springs for their expertise in treating tubercular invalids.

U.S. Army General Hospital No. 19 was the first new army facility constructed during WWI specifically for the treatment of soldiers with tuberculosis (TB). The hospital consisted of 97 buildings with the capacity to treat 1,500 patients at a time. Unfortunately, thousands of soldiers contracted TB during WWI due to crowded and unsanitary conditions in training camps, trenches and aboard ships on their way to and from Europe.

When she entered the Army Nurse Corps in 1918, Standish was not only a registered nurse and business owner — she was a single mother to her six-year-old adopted son. In 1912, a premature baby boy was born at Beth El Hospital. Despite the staff’s belief the infant would not survive, Standish moved the fragile infant into her office to provide for his round-the-clock-care. Standish named the baby Robert, and soon after adopted him.

In 1918, Florence Standish agreed to join Dr. Hoagland in North Carolina on one condition — young Robert must be able to come with her. Dr. Hoagland agreed, and Standish’s skills and knowledge proved invaluable to the challenging position of Chief Nurse at U.S. Army Hospital No. 19. She oversaw the training and supervision of the nursing staff and ensured the proper care for patients in all wards of the large hospital.

On March 18, 1919 Standish returned to Colorado Springs to continue her work at Nob Hill, and in1920 she adopted a baby girl, Barbara Rose. Unfortunately, Standish contracted diphtheria in 1925, and although she eventually recovered, state health statutes prevented her from working as a registered nurse or operating Nob Hill Lodge. Standish and her children briefly lived with her family in California in1927, before eventually returning home to Colorado Springs. Fittingly, Barbara Rose Standish followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a nurse.

History of Tuberculosis Treatment


Leah Davis Witherow, Curator of History

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