Walk in clinics and easy-access urgent care is a normal part of an everyday American city these days. These clinics, able to dispense basic pharmaceuticals and prescriptionsand treat everything from a head cold to a broken bone, have a history that stretches back centuries. Did you know that walk in clinics date back to the religious temples of the Greeks and Romans? Take a look at our infographic to follow the history of walk-in-clinics dating from 4000 BC to today.
In 4000 BC, healing temples and sanctuaries were built through the large cities of Egypt. These temples were for the priests, the physicians of the time, to treat patients that would travel from around the city and outlying farmland for healing.
In Greece, temples were dedicated to the healing god Asclepius and they functioned similarly to those holy places of healing in Egypt. The priests of Asclepius were generous and offered medical services to any race, including slaves, foreigners, and those who ascribed to other religions. Much of Greek medicine was influenced by the Greek physician Hippocrates, who remains an oft-quoted healer today.
Years later, the Romans decided to further the study and practice of medicine by setting up centers of care for sick soldiers and slaves, called valetudinaria. These places of healing were also considered temples of the god Asclepius and were often called Aesculapiums in deference to their god. The sick were able to walk into these temples and receive free medical care.
In 325 A.D. following the first council of Nicaea, construction of hospitals were begun in large towns and cities in an effort to provide places of medical treatment across the entire Roman Empire.
One of the greatest achievements of medieval Islamic society was their hospitals. The design and development of the Islamic medical centers provided a more elaborate range of medical function, far outstripping the contemporary Christian monasteries. Patients would travel miles to seek medical care at these advanced institutions that were large and usually of beautiful construction.
The creed of Islam dictated that physicians and those with medical knowledge should treat all the ill, regardless of their financial capabilities or status. Despite the strong moral influence of the Islamic religion, the institutions themselves remained largely secular. Their doors were open to all social status, men and women, wealthy and impoverished, slave and free.
Emperor Charlemagne, who ruled in western Europe during the turn of the 8th century, saw the decay of medical facilities and hospitals caused by war. In response, he decreed that they should be rebuilt, that people should be educated in medical practice, and that every hospital should be attached to a cathedral or monastery. These efforts resulted in the return of free medical attention dispensed from religious centers, providing, as the priests felt, both healing for the body and for the soul.
The Progression To Modern Medicine
It wasn’t until the Age of Enlightenment was in full swing that progress began to advance more quickly. Privately owned hospitals put down roots in the 18th century. Florence Nightingale revolutionized nursing and medical treatment in the 19th century. The World Wars of the 20th century honed the skills of physicians and surgeons, and created a greater need for nurses and doctors. These doctors, upon returning home, began opening health practices of their own.
And now, of course, we have the modern day practices, such as Western Washington Medical Group, that combine many specialties and a variety of professionals to provide comprehensive and quality care for every patient.