Who was deported from Alaska and who was at Morningside Hospital?

The preliminary examination of the records shows that Alaskans from all over the state – from Nome to Ketchikan – were sent to the Morningside. Dr Henry Waldo Coe, medical director and owner of Sanitarium Co which operated Morningside Hospital, provided the federal government with a report on the census of the hospital in March 1916. The report tallied the number of admissions, discharges, elopements, deaths and deportations from the Insane District of Alaska from 1904 to 1916. A total of 576 patients were admitted during that time, with 33.5% or 192 still in the hospital, 21% died while there, 37.7% were discharged , 7.2% eloped, and .3% or two persons were deported from the US. This is one of the most complete demographic pictures we have found of Morningside patients.

It appears that the early patients were primarily miners and ordinary adults who were determined “insane” by the territorial legal system and probably deemed a threat to public safety. Later, the census shows many more Alaska Natives and children sent to the facility–probably under the guise that they needed the care offered.

Persons sent there were considered “insane”, but much later it was determined that persons with mental illness, developmental disabilities, Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and chronic alcoholics were included in the population. Also, there are numerous stories of people leaving the hospital after short stays and being perfectly fine (according to community norms) upon their return, so they likely had no clinical diagnosis at all.

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