Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry was a scandalized and horrific institution with many allegations of improper behavior over the years. The hospital was created as a mental health facility and admitted a variety of patients with various mental and physical disorders. The incidents and allegations against Byberry Hospital only multiplied as the years progressed.
Murder, rape, child abuse, overcrowding, and tales of naked and excrement-covered patients wandering the hallways were among the appalling crimes committed at Byberry Hospital in the almost 60 years it was open. Additionally, a corporation conducted experiments on patients knowing they would never have to answer for the crime.
By the time the hospital was shut down in 1988, Byberry Mental Hospital was a human cesspit of despair. Though many mental asylums founded in the early 20th century were eventually found to be deplorable in their methods and inhumane treatment, Byberry may just take the cake as the most horrifying of these "medical" establishments.
Hospital Staff Murdered And Used Unnecessary Force
Widespread abuse ran unchecked through the hospital. Patients were restrained far longer than necessary, denied food, drugged to induce calm, and even beaten. The health of the patients also suffered greatly as the facility lacked adequate staff and supplies necessary to keep the patients healthy and maintain a clean facility. Patients often attempted to escape the facility, using different tools to make their way out.
In 1919, two orderlies murdered a patient. They “choked him till his eyes popped out” and because it was assumed the men had PTSD from fighting in the war, they were forgiven and hired back to the hospital for even higher pay. In 1987, William Kirsch sued the hospital for holding him in a four-point restraint for 3 years straight.
Male Patients Supervised The Children's Ward
The lack of staff in the children’s ward proved to be particularly disastrous for the children. Instead of hiring qualified staff members, the hospital asked the most stable mental patients to act as “attendants” for the children. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it was a terrible decision to do that, and many children were sexually abused as a result.
A Drug Company Was Allowed To Perform Human Experiments
The Smith Kline-French Company partnered with the hospital to enable the testing of a drug they created called, “thorazine.” The company took many liberties, subjecting patients to a host of experimental treatments. Many patients perished from the experiments and most were not mentally capable of deciding to participate in the trial nor had family to ask. Thus they were targeted for experimentation so the hospital wouldn’t be bothered by dubious family members.
One Patient Killed Another, Scattering Parts Of Her Body Throughout The Hospital
Of the many murders that took place at Byberry, the 1987 murder of a female patient by a male patient, Charles Gable, was by far the most disturbing. Gable allegedly killed and dismembered her body scattering her body parts throughout the property. Purportedly several mental patients were caught playing with the victims teeth and mandible after finding them on the grounds.