Civic Institutions: Community Hospital

THE CIVIC HOSPITAL: D’ANTONI – MIRTO – IMPASTATO

This is the building flanked on the east of the Girl’s Orphanage Cangialosi and wedged between the two Poggioreale-Salaparata and Poggioreale-Camporeale roads, looking out to the south onto Via Umberto 1, to the east onto Piazzetta Vittorio Veneto and to the north onto the countryside. Endowed by the munificence of Signor Don Benedetto Mirto, it was furnished in 1891.

It is a large and commodious building that is very airy and sunny. It carries the names of the three founders of the beneficent institution.

The Priest Antonio Impastato of this community died on February 14, 1792, leaving a last will and testament dated June 13,1789, that was probated on February 14,1792 at the office of the Notary Paolo Apicella, in Poggioreale. He was the first in the town to realize the need for a charitable hospital, and to consecrate to it the property.

In his last will and testament he named the Rectors and the Deputies to whom he left the duties of carrying out the bequest.

Signora Donna Rosaria D’Antoni (daughter of Lorenzo), already the widow of Don Giuseppe Cangialose, and married a second time with Don Benedetto Mirto, died on April 1, 1889, leaving a last will and testament dated March 27, 1889, at the office of the Notary Antonino Tamburello, in Poggioreale, that left her considerable estate to the Hospital as follows: “I give and I bequeath to the poor paralyzed, crippled, blind, aged and infirm from one or the other “sex, of this community, my lands and other property of the former feudal estate of Cautali and Grottanera, by me purchased in the name of my son Calogero Cangialosi (son of Giuseppe), the portion of the three hydraulic mills named ‘della Donna,’ at the right bank of the River Belice, two thirds of the entire garden of the Celso, all the other goods held on rural property or in the town of Poggioreale having come from my deceased first husband Don Giuseppe Cangialosi and from my deceased son Calogero Cangialosi; as also the portion due to me of the hotel Belvedere, found in the city of Palermo are bequeathed in favor of these poor infirm and I name them my sole heirs.

“They will be cared for by the charitable Hospital, to be established in the apartment building that is being built at the Gate, at the comer of the two vehicular streets that lead to Salaparuta and to Camporeale, I urgently recommend and inculcate to the present and future Administrators:

If the hand of the Government with the current laws or with new ones will thwart my intention by claiming for itself all of my bequest to the poor infirm of this community, I deliberate to be my firm will, my irrevocable deposition that the Government not appropriate my estate for itself, but instead to cede It to my sister Caterina Cangialosi – Calogero Cangialosi (son of Giuseppe) and of Rosaria D’Antoni, born May 18, 1862, died September 3, 1875 and to the heirs of my brothers Francesco and Nicolo, as well as those of my sister Maria d’Antoni, ecc…

”Signor Don Benedetto Mirto (son of Rosario), husband of the above named Signora Rosaria D’Antoni, with the last will and testament of August 24, 1889, probated at the office of Notary Giuseppe Scardino of Poggioreale, bequeathed in favor of the poor, the infirm, the paralyzed, the crippled and the aged of either sex, and natives of the Community of Poggioreale, whether existing in such conditions at the time of his death or those in the future who will be in perpetuum, even if they were simply residents, residing or domiciled, his portion of the building, in part constructed and in part to be constructed, is also to be used as a hospital and likewise his portion of the attached garden, building and garden that form the corner between the vehicular roads for Salaparuta and Camporeale.

“Said building is destined to the Pious Works Hospital.”

In the same testament Don Benedetto Mirto established the clause (precisely as reported in the testament of Donna Rosaria d’ Antoni) that, “where by law of suppression in existing laws or due to the disposition of other future laws which would suppress or cause the seizure of the real estate in favor of the State, in such a case the same will return free and without any encumbrances, obligations or duties to the full property of his sole heirs.”

He died on July 22, 1897.

Of the three founders, the most substantial portion was that of Signora Rosaria d’Antoni.

The resolutions of the Charitable Congregation of March 18, 1900, to furnish the hospital, and that of the Community of July 22, 1900, in which a vote in favor gave support for the institution that came to furnish the Town with such a beneficent and necessary institution.

The Hospital, once in operation, had as its first Director Doctor Gaspare Di Benedetto, the former internal Assistant of the United Hospitals of Rome, who died in a war zone on September 18, 1918, and was cited for his contribution.

For a few years the Hospital functioned on an outpatient basis.

The mezzanine served as an elementary school in the trienmum 1920-23; following and since it has been used as the local granary; accessed from the north side.

The Clinic furnishes Maternity services. In the Chapel of the Hospital, Signora d’Antoni, in her testament, funded a daily mass.

THE MOTHER AND INFANT FACILITY

For a few year a Mother and Infant Facility has been instituted, installed in a room of the Hospital building.

The very name suggests its importance and opportuneness, dealing with mother and child health, with distribution of medicines, of milk, of treatment, under the direction of a Pediatric medical specialist. Mothers find providential assistance there, and they pour in to cure the young.

The results have been extremely satisfying, especially with regard to minimizing frequency of infant mortality. A comparative statistical study reveals the result of the benefit attained. Up until 20 years ago, births and deaths of this community had a numeric difference of 5 to 10 among the first and the second while progressively births have grown, and deaths, instead have diminished.

As a final example we note that in 1955 births numbered 78, against 28 deaths. In this comparison, while in truth mortalities diminished among the aged, since senescence has improved, mortality among infants has clearly diminished. New medical treatments employed for infants have triumphed over infant illnesses. For many years now, no one need speak of diphtheria (the croup), or of so many other diseases: scarlet fever, measles, rubella, whooping-cough and the like… fatality has been stopped by Science. Many charitable contributions (clothing and food) have been the best support This Beneficent Institution has the service of the town’s Doctor Francesco Mule, pediatric specialist, an intelligent and industrious young man. He also provides medical services to the three communities in the Gibellina district.

[This webpage is excerpted from the book: “The History of Poggioreale, Sicily – From 1640 to 1956.” Originally written in Italian by: Canonico Dottore Francesco Aloisio in 1956. Adapted and translated by: Dr. Jeremiah P. Spence, Ph.D. of Austin, Texas. 5th Edition. International Order of Genealogists Publishing. Ireland. 2019. ISBN: 9781072403371. The book can be purchased online at: https://www.amazon.com/History-Poggioreale-Sicily-1640-1956/dp/1072403374/ ]