AskDefine | Define sanatorium

Dictionary Definition



1 a hospital for recuperation or for the treatment of chronic diseases [syn: sanatarium, sanitarium]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Sanatorium



sanatus, past participle of sanare, to cure or to heal


sanatorium (Plural: sanatoria or sanatoriums)
  1. an institution that treats chronic diseases, and provides supervised recuperation and convalescence


an institution that treats chronic diseases, and provides supervised recuperation and convalescence

Extensive Definition

A sanatorium (also sanitorium, sanitarium) is a medical facility for long-term illness, typically tuberculosis. A distinction was sometimes made between a "sanitarium" (a kind of health resort, as in the Battle Creek Sanitarium) and "sanatorium" (a hospital).
According to the Saskatchewan Lung Association, when the National Anti-Tuberculosis Association (Canada) was founded in 1904, it was felt that a distinction should be made between the health resorts with which people were familiar and the new tuberculosis treatment hospitals: "So they decided to use a new word which instead of being derived from the Latin noun sanitas, meaning health, would emphasize the need for scientific healing or treatment. Accordingly, they took the Latin verb root sano, meaning to heal, and adopted the new word sanatorium" .
The rationale for sanitoriums was that before antibiotic treatments existed, a regime of rest and good nutrition offered the best chance that the sufferer's immune system would "wall off" pockets of pulmonary tuberculosis infection.
In the early twentieth century, tuberculosis sanatoriums (or sanatoria) were common in the United States. The first tuberculosis sanatorium for blacks was Burkeville, Virginia's Piedmont Sanatorium. Waverly Hills Sanatorium, a Louisville, Kentucky tuberculosis sanatorium, was founded in 1911. It has become a mecca for curiosity-seekers who believe it is haunted . Colorado Springs, because of its dry climate was home to several sanatoriums. A. G. Holley Hospital in Lantana, Florida is the last remaining freestanding tuberculosis sanatorium in the United States .
Sanatoriums were also common throughout Europe from the end of the late 19th century onwards, particularly in the fight against tuberculosis. For example, Switzerland had many sanatoriums, as it was believed that clean mountain air was the best treatment for lung diseases. In Finland a series of tuberculosis sanatoriums were built throughout the country in isolated forest areas, the most famous of these being the Paimio Sanatorium, built in 1930 and designed by world-renowned architect Alvar Aalto, with its roof-top terraces where the patients would lay all day on specially designed chairs, the so-called Paimio Chair. In Portugal, the Heliantia Sanatorium in Valadares, was used for the treatment of bone tuberculosis between the 1930s and 1960s.
After 1943, when Albert Schatz, a graduate student at Rutgers University, discovered Streptomycin, the first true cure for tuberculosis, sanatoriums began to close, or (as in the case of the Paimio Sanatorium) were transformed into general hospitals. Around the 1950s, tuberculosis was no longer a major public health threat and so most of the sanatoriums had reached the end of their lives. Most sanatoriums were demolished years ago.
Some, however, have assumed updated medical roles. The Tambaram Sanatorium in south India is now a hospital for AIDS patients . The state hospital in Sanatorium, Mississippi is now a regional mental retardation center.

Former Soviet Union

In the former Soviet Union the term has a slightly different meaning. It is mostly a combination of a resort/recreational facility and a medical facility intended to provide short-term complex rest and medical services.

In literature

  • The Magic Mountain, a novel by the German author Thomas Mann, is set in a sanatorium. Mann was familiar with this type of setting from 1912 when his wife was hospitalized with lung disease for several months in Dr. Friedrich Jessen's Waldsanatorium in Davos, Switzerland. The Magic Mountain was first published in in 1924.
  • Mentioned in The Dressmaker as one of the characters is sent there. Set in the 1950s.



sanatorium in Danish: Sanatorium
sanatorium in German: Sanatorium
sanatorium in Spanish: Sanatorio
sanatorium in French: Sanatorium
sanatorium in Korean: 요양소
sanatorium in Italian: Sanatorio
sanatorium in Macedonian: Санаториум
sanatorium in Dutch: Sanatorium
sanatorium in Japanese: サナトリウム
sanatorium in Polish: Sanatorium
sanatorium in Russian: Санаторий
sanatorium in Swedish: Sanatorium
sanatorium in Ukrainian: Санаторій
sanatorium in Chinese: 療養院

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

VA hospital, asylum, base hospital, clinic, community hospital, convalescent home, convalescent hospital, evacuation hospital, field hospital, general hospital, home, hospital, infirmary, inpatient clinic, maison de sante, mental hospital, nursing home, osteopathic hospital, outpatient clinic, policlinic, polyclinic, private hospital, proprietary hospital, public hospital, rest home, sanitarium, sick bay, sickbed, sickroom, special hospital, station hospital, surgical hospital, teaching hospital, veterans hospital, voluntary hospital, ward, well-baby clinic
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