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The Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital (Groupe hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière) is a celebrated teaching hospital in Paris. Part of the Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, it is one of Europe's largest hospitals.
The Salpêtrière was originally a gunpowder factory ("salpêtre" being a constituent of gunpowder), but was converted to a dumping ground for the poor of Paris. It served as a prison for prostitutes, and a holding place for the mentally disabled, criminally insane, epileptics, and the poor; it was also notable for its population of rats.
By the eve of the Revolution, it had become the world's largest hospital, with a capacity of 10,000 patients plus 300 prisoners, largely prostitutes swept from the streets of Paris. From La Salpêtrière they were paired with convicts and forcibly expatriated to New France.
During the September massacres of 1792, the Salpêtrière was stormed on the night of 3/4 September by a mob from the impoverished working-class district of the Faubourg Saint-Marcel, with the avowed intention of releasing the detained street-girls; 134 of the prostitutes were released; twenty-five madwomen were less fortunate and were dragged, some still in their chains, into the streets and murdered. Madame Roland, a Girondin supporter of the Revolution in its first liberalising stages, recorded in her Memoirs that the Revolution "has been stained by villains and become hideous".
In the first half of the 19th century, the first humanitarian reforms in the treatment of the violently insane were initiated here by Philippe Pinel, friend of the Encyclopédistes; his sculptural monument stands before the main entrance in Place Marie-Curie, Boulevard de L'Hôpital. Later, when Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot took over the department, the Salpêtrière became known as a psychiatric centre. Charcot is often credited as the founder of modern neurology. His teaching activities on the Salpêtrière's wards helped to elucidate the natural history and pathophysiology of many human illnesses including neurosyphilis, epilepsy, and stroke. Students came from all over Europe to listen to Charcot's lectures. Among them was a young Sigmund Freud.
The Hôpital de la Pitié, founded about 1612, was moved next to the Salpêtrière in 1911 and fused with it in 1964 to form the Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière. The Pitié-Salpêtrière is now a general teaching hospital with departments focusing on most major medical specialities.
Numerous celebrities have been treated at the Salpêtrière, including Michael Schumacher, Ronaldo, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Alain Delon and Gérard Depardieu. Former president Jacques Chirac had a pacemaker fitted at the Salpêtrière in 2008. Celebrities have also breathed their last at the Pitié-Salpêtrière, including the singer Josephine Baker in 1975, Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 and French bicycle racer Laurent Fignon in 2010.
Chapelle de la Salpêtrière (Hospital Chapel), at n° 47 Boulevard de l'Hôpital is one of the masterpieces of Libéral Bruant, architect of Les Invalides. It was built around 1675, on the model of a Greek cross and has four central chapels each capable of holding a congregation of some 1,000 people. Its central octagonal cupola is illuminated by picture windows in circular arcs.
Philippe Pinel monument
In the place in front of the main entrance to the Hospital, there is a large bronze monument to Philippe Pinel, who was chief physician of the Hospice from 1795 to his death in 1826. The Salpêtrière was, at the time, like a large village, with seven thousand elderly indigent and ailing women, an entrenched bureaucracy, a teeming market and huge infirmaries. Pinel created an inoculation clinic in his service at the Salpêtrière in 1799 and the first vaccination in Paris was given there in April 1800.
Through its history, the Pitié-Salpétrière hosted notable doctors, among others:
- Philippe Pinel (1745–1826);
- Jean-Étienne Esquirol (1772–1840);
- Étienne-Jean Georget (1795–1828);
- Duchenne de Boulogne (1806-1875), teacher of Charcot;
- Ernest-Charles Lasègue (1816–1883);
- Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893), founder of modern neurology;
- Alfred Vulpian (1826–1893) Physician and neurologist;
- Jules Bernard Luys (1828–1897), Neurologist;
- Paul Richer (1849–1933), anatomist, collaborator of Charcot;
- Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), Charcot's student in Paris;
- Joseph Babinski (1857–1932), another Charcot's student;
- Georges Gilles de la Tourette (1857–1904), neurologist;
- Pierre Janet (1859–1947), Psychologist;
- Abel Ayerza (1861-1918), Argentinian cardiologist;
- Gérard Encausse (1865–1916), Physician;
- Maria Montessori (1870–1952), pioneer in education;
- Jacques Lacan (1901–1981), psychoanalyst;
- Christian Cabrol (1925-), cardiac surgeon, performed Europe's first heart transplantation on April 27, 1968.
- Iradj Gandjbakhch (1941-), cardiac surgeon, performed Europe's first heart transplantation on April 27, 1968 along with Dr. Cabrol; fitted a pacemaker on former president Jacques Chirac in 2008.
- "How to conduct European clinical trials from the Paris Region?". CLINICAL TRIALS. BioTeam® Paris Region. February 2003. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- The episode is discussed in detail by Mary Bosworth, "Anatomy of a Massacre: Gender, Power, and Punishment in Revolutionary Paris" Violence Against Women, 7.10, (2001:1101–1121).
- Thirza Vallois, "Paris Kiosque: La Salpêtrière"[dead link]
- "Interview with Professor Gérard Saillant". Fia.com. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "Prince Rainier health "worrying"". BBC News. 2005-03-25. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "A Survivor of the Painful Road to Hell and Back". Buzzle.com. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "Europe | France's Chirac gets pacemaker". BBC News. 2008-04-11. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- Series of Real-Time Reports involving the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales[dead link]
- N. Mclntyre, "The Medical Statues of Paris"
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière.|
- Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital (in French)
- History of La Salpêtrière
- Salpêtrière Hospital records, 1859-1942 (inclusive), 1900-1919 (bulk), HMS c30. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine, Harvard Medical School