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Sick wards

Sick ward 2
The first sick ward was situated in the back of the chapel. The 19th century brought new medical knowledge, which meant the number of beds in the hospital had to be increased.

The second sick ward was built in 1841-1842 in a direct line with the first sick ward. It was built according to a plan drawn by Fr. Heylen en Bogaerts from Lier. The hall as well as the entrance door with transom window on the side of the ‘Gasthuisstraat’ date from this period. When breaking up the floor during the restoration work between 2001 and 2005, remnants of the previous walls were revealed. They are probably evidence of the layman personnel’s rooms which were built here in the 13th century.

De second sick ward was linked to the first one through a door for a long time, as is evidenced by the wall niche displaying medical material. The high, latticed windows are the most striking features of this sick ward. They provided the sick ward with top light and air.
First ambulance of Geel

The third sick ward was built in 1860-1861, across from the former main entrance and the second sick ward. It was built according to the plans of the architect Van Gastel. When the plague houses were demolished in 1854 and the cholera epidemic broke out in the same year, there was a dire shortage of hospital beds.

The third sick ward, also known as the ‘Red Ward’ because of its red tile floor, was initially used as an isolation ward for infectious patients and later on as a male ward. The ward was heated by a Louvain stove in an English mantelpiece. A simple door on the right of the mantelpiece gave entrance to a small corridor that led to the hospital’s farmhouse. The white hangings between the beds could be drawn while the patients were being treated.

Nowadays, the third sick ward or the ‘Red Ward’ is fully dedicated to Saint Dymphna and to the nursing of mental patients in Geel. Soon, the Irish princess Dymphna, who rejected the incestuous proposals of her father and nearly fell victim to his madness, was worshipped as the saint of madness. This worship of Saint Dymphna was at the base of the still existing foster family care, which made Geel famous all over the world.