Rochester is well known for its contribution to nineteenth-century social reform through the efforts of individuals such as Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, but another distinction of its history is as a major center in nineteenth-century homeopathic medicine. In the nineteenth-century, the practice of medicine became divided into various schools of thought. The two major schools were the traditional practice of Allopathic medicine and the other being Homeopathic medicine. Whereas Allopathy treats the symptoms of a illness, such as an antibiotic for an infection or pain medication to relieve pain, and is based in science, Homeopathy is the practice of treating the cause of the illness, (rather than the symptoms), with natural remedies that would produce similar symptoms in healthy patients. The underlying premise is that the body’s natural systems fight disease rather than the use of drugs.
Homeopathy is age old principle based on the “Law of similars.” This fundamental principal is the belief that “Like is cured by like.” Although the German physician Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann is credited with “discovering” homeopathy, ancient Hindu sages described its laws in the tenth- century B.C. as well as by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates in 400 B.C. The word Homeopathy comes from the Greek words homoios (“similar) and pathos (“suffering” or “sickness”). The law of similar states that a remedy can counteract a negative symptom, if it produces in a healthy person symptoms similar to those of the disease.
Rochester hosted an active homeopathic medical community which led to the establishment of several Homeopathic hospitals.
The first of which was the Rochester Homeopathic hospital founded in 1887. The founding of the homeopathic hospital came about as a result of the efforts of several of Rochester’s leading homeopathic physicians led by Dr. Charles Sumner and civic leaders such as Mrs. Hiram Sibley, Mrs. Don Alonzo Watson, and Silvanus J. Macy. Sumner chaired a committee of homeopaths including his son Charles R. Sumner, John Mallory Lee, Theodore C. White and Edmund H. Hurd and in whose purpose it was to determine the practicality of forming a Homeopathic hospital in Rochester.
A large group of concerned citizens led by the wives of two of the community’s best known business leaders, Mrs. Hiram (Elizabeth) Sibley and Mrs. Alonzo (Caroline) Watson helped propel the effort to form a homeopathic hospital in the eastern side of Rochester. Past efforts by the medical community to establish a homeopathic hospital by its leading proponents had failed up until an incident where Mrs. Sibley witnessed a women slip and fall on the ice outside her East Avenue home. Realizing that the only hospital in the city where the women could receive medical care was at the City hospital on the western edge of town, convinced her that the east side of the city needed its own hospital and she committed herself to helping to establish one and on May 25, 1887 the charter for the incorporating the Rochester Homeopathic Hospital was granted. The three-story brick structure at 233 Monroe Avenue opened to the public on September 19, 1889. Nine weeks later, the first students of the Homeopathic Hospital Training School for Nurses were admitted and began their education as Nurses.
Its first major expansion happened in 1894 when it relocated to the former resident of the Rochester Congressman Freeman Clarke at 224 Alexander Street. The hospital continued to grow to meet the needs of the community. In response to the evolution of modern medical science and its overwhelming acceptance and practice in the medical community, the hospital changed its name to The Genesee Hospital in 1926.
The hospital continued to grow and meet the needs of the community through the war years into the 21st century. The ever evolving state of healthcare and the competitive medical industry ultimately contributed to the Genesee Hospital eventual closing in 2001. Over its one hundred and twelve year history, the Genesee hospital earned a reputation as an outstanding healthcare institution and will be remembered for many years to come.
This is an extract from the original article Rochester’s Homeopathic Hospitals