Date of Award
The care and treatment of lepers at the Louisiana Leper Home from 1894 to 1921 was based essentially upon both Biblical and medieval precedents, the chief of which was the belief that leprosy was incurable and its victims should be isolated. Accordingly, the state medical profession believed that leprous cases should be isolated and treated to prevent further spread of the disease, while the lay community favored their isolation to remove the public's economic and social fears. The creation of an asylum at a rundown plantation in Iberville Parish represented the practical application of this belief. On the one hand, "Indian Camp," as the place was first called, offered an opportunity to provide lepers with proper care and treatment in keeping with the aim of Dr. Isadore Dyer and his founding Board of Control; on the other hand, an unresponsive legislature and conservative state governors held that expenditures for these incurables must be limited to custodial care. Thus, "inmate" care and treatment was carried on by a small nursing staff of the Sisters of Charity within the confines of an asylum. Whether an asylum for the isolation of lepers or a hospital for their proper care and treatment, the board's goal to eradicate leprosy in Louisiana was a costly undertaking. The proper maintenance of both a home and a hospital for lepers would require the state's acceptance of the expense. Thus, as the rise in patient admissions escalated costs the home became a steadily increasing burden upon the state. It became clear that any progressive change in the institution's, role would require that it be taken over by a higher authority. After 1921, the United States Public Health Service would assume control of the institution and make the necessary changes in its activities.
Calandro, Charles Hilary, "From Disgrace to Dignity - the Louisiana Leper Home, 1894-1921" (1980). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 8292.