St Francis Hospital (Hospital Na Františku)
The St Francis hospital is situated on the banks of the Vltava River. It is the oldest medieval centre in Prague, boasting a whopping 700-year-old history. Originally built as a hospital for the poor, who could not afford the services of doctors for medical treatment, it was constructed by Bohuslav of Obramovice, a very wealthy and rich member of Prague’s Bourgeoisie. Erected in 1354, it would provide medical services for the poor, thus Bohuslav was able to give back to the community, and to the majestic city that he loved.
In 1620, Emperor Ferdinand II gave it to the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, the brothers, for supporting him in the White Mountain Battle, or perhaps, according to what they say, because he was grateful to one of them for saving his injured hand – whereas his doctor wanted to amputate it. In 1847 the surgeon Celestýn Opitz made the first surgical operation under general anaesthesia of the Austro-Hungarian empire and of all Europe, an intervention which was celebrated with a plaque placed on the facade of the building. Another important date is 1965, when the first intensive care unit of Czechoslovakia was opened. Important dates like the one mentioned are a testament to the technological advances in medicine throughout the ages of Czechoslovak history.
It wasn’t until the 18th century that they finally put an emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness. They realised that if they cleaned each of their instruments, between surgeries, changed their aprons to wash away the blood-soaked uniforms, 6 out of 10 patients ended up dying, instead of 9 out of 10 if they did not. Thus, less and less people ended up dying. It is also argued hat in modern times, The Czech Republic has one of the most sophisticated medical industries in Europe.
During World War two it was a hospital that cared for the German Luftwaffe pilots. Pilots would be admitted to the hospital, cared for and then sent back to fight heroically on the front lines. However, it was during this period that a nurse working at the hospital devised a scheming plan. As she had a serious bout of syphilis, her way of getting back at the Nazi regime was to sleep with the pilots, thus doing her medical responsibilities, but unbeknownst to the Germans, they would be worse off than when they had been admitted to the hospital, as in those days it was a death sentence.
After the Velvet revolution and to this day the hospital continues to be a central feature of the medical industry in Prague.
It is one of the most important stops when you are guided around in the moonlight by our professional guides.
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