The Beginning of Vejlefjord
The young doctor, Christian Saugman, began the history of Vejlefjord. He was a tuberculosis patient, and since Denmark had no treatment facilities he entered a treatment stay in Bohemia in Germany in 1889 under the care of Herman Brehmer. Here he was encouraged to start a tuberculosis treatment facility in Denmark. After a few years “apprenticeship” under Brehmer, Saugman went back and started plans to establish a proper sanatorium for people with chest disease in Denmark.
The sanatorium should be well equipped and the air clean and good. The location should be remote – far from cities, railroads and busy roads. Having looked all around the country, he found the location at the trade station Fakkegrav on the north side of Vejle Fjord. In the forest right at the coast there was an open valley completely enclosed on all sides and surrounded by beech forest. “Nature here was smiling and of a unique beauty”.
At a large medical congress in August 1895 Saugman called upon Danish doctors to subscribe shares to an amount of DKK 100 in a company that was named Sanatorium for Breast Diseases.
The subscription went well. Already at the end of September Danish doctors had subscribed for about DKK 35,000. The shares should not yield dividend to the shareholders. They should be used for maintenance and operations. Various private individuals and funds contributed, and after 6 months the amount was DKK 215,000.
The property of almost 40 hectares was bought from Count Friis of Boller Castle for DKK 40,000. Several small properties on the site were bought immediately, among them “Himmerigshuset” (an old gardener house). Thus, the total property amounted to 44 hectares.
The lack of roads and the long distances caused many difficulties. Building materials had to be transported by steamship from Vejle to the newly built steamer wharf. The last 450 meters up to the building site materials were transported on horse-drawn rail wagons.
The founding stone was laid in April 1898 and the roof tree was put up on November 1st the same year. More than 100 men were working under constant supervision by Saugman, who wanted everything to be perfect.
The Framework Is Filled In
According to plan Vejlefjord Sanatorium was to be functional in the autumn of 1899, but because of the big strike construction was halted for 6 months. It was officially opened on March 1st 1900.
From the start it accommodated 96 self-paying tuberculosis patients. Later it became possible to apply for financial support from various private help funds.
The first year prices for stays ranged from 6 to 8 DKK per person per day for a single room. A double room ranged from 4.50 to 6.50 DKK per person. Foreigners had to pay double prices.
As the last part of the construction a wooden open-air shelter was erected. The open-air shelter was open towards the park in order to provide fresh air under roof for the patients confined to their bed.
1915-1916 the premises were enlarged to accommodate 115 patients. An extension was made to house operating rooms and light cures with X-ray treatment.
The Treatment Paths
Since walks were a crucial factor in the treatment of tuberculosis, treatment paths of varying degrees of difficulty were established in the whole area.
Fresh air, exercise and rest were three cornerstones in the therapy which Chr. Saugman prescribed his patients. First they had to build-up strength on the “take it easy” paths and later on they should take on larger ascents. However, exaggeration should be avoided, and, therefore, 150 benches for the necessary breaks were placed in the area. When they could manage “Sneglebakken” (The Snail Hill) the patients were said to be cured.
The British tuberculosis doctor C.T. Williams, who had visited all sanatoriums in Europe, stated after a visit to Vejlefjord in the year 1903: “It is the most extensive and best arranged system of treatment paths I have yet seen.”
Many of the treatment paths and sights still exist. At the hotel reception you can get a map of the area.
The normal treatment was a mix of:
- The air cure, which consisted of stays in fresh air
- The rest cure, which took place in the open-air shelters or on the Terrace
- The exercise cure, which consisted of systematically prescribed walks
- The nutritional cure, which aimed at securing a healthy body weight for each individual patient
- The hardening cure, with showers and baths
Moreover, medications were used when necessary. The treatment could also consist of treatment with carbon arch light, the so-called “lung blowing” (pneumothorax). Later, also surgical operations were performed.
Chr. Saugman was chief physician from the beginning of the Sanatorium to his death in the year 1923. His natural authority and commitment to the healing of his patients caused him to look for the best remedies and treatments.
Chr. Saugman’s motto was: “Nemo sanatur nisi volens” – which translates into: “Nobody gets cured without wanting to.”
Life at the Castle
Vejlefjord Sanatorium was a small community with its own traditions and gala days. For everyday amusement different activities were introduced as Saugman regarded it important to also keep up the life spirit and the good mood.
The Shooting Society was founded shortly after the opening. In the shooting society funds were collected in The Black Box, from which patients of limited means could apply for grants. The shooting society started a local paper (Bacillen) with petty news, suggestions for improvements and anecdotes about doctors and patients.
Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve were celebrated with a special gala dinner where guests arrived in gala dress to table music performed by orchestras from Horsens or Vejle. Shrovetide was celebrated with the farmhands from Stouby carrying out Shrovetide rides on the beach.
From the beginning regular church services were held for patients and employees. The vicar at Stouby Church was obliged to perform services at the sanatorium.
Times Are Changing …
At the end of the 1940s the efforts in the cause of tuberculosis were at an end, and, slowly, the sanatorium was emptied of its patients.
After a modernization in the year 1957 Vejlefjord Sanatorium started as “Jysk Nervesanatorium” (Neurological Sanatorium). In the years when Vejlefjord served as a neurological sanatorium the area was completely closed to the public. Today, however, the whole area around Vejlefjord is open to the public.
From the year 1985 the rehabilitation of persons with brain damages became a new core competence for Vejlefjord. 1989 the institution was rebuilt with new rooms and premises. This made it possible to offer seminar facilities to the treatment personnel, the professional staff and relations.
In the beautiful old main building Hotel Vejlefjord A/S now welcomes you with an abundance of offers and star experiences in unique surroundings with fantastic views:
- Modern meeting and conference facilities
- 113 bright and atmospheric rooms and suites
- Restaurants and panoramic terrace
- A la Carte, parties and banquets
- Spa and wellness stays
- The unique Thermal Baths
- Pampering spa treatments
- Gift certificates and exquisite spa products
- Fantastic nature – 43 hectares of park, forest and beach