Reading 24: On the Infirmarer
The care for the sick ought to be enjoined to one of them [i.e. the brothers], to whom the abbot orders it. He shall bear the responsibility for the attention and care over the sick, so that he may provide in a timely manner what he himself has deemed necessary and what must be prepared for the sick. When someone of the convent is sick and has to go out of the convent, he shall go out after being given permission. The prior, or he who holds his power, if the sickness of the brother requires immediate assistance, shall tell the infirmarer, or whoever of the brothers he has ordered, to follow him (the sick man) and do whatever he needs; and if the sickness is so serious and he (the sick man) grows suddenly so weak as to lose the ability to speak, then whoever sees him ought immediately to help. The infirmarer ought to have as a helper one of the conversi, a brother of commendable life or a faithful server who would continually remain in the infirmary, and would carry the keys to the things kept there. For the infirmarer ought to have niches or other little receptacles where he may place all the things which he has to have at his disposal, namely towels and table coverings, of which he ought to have his own and marked (as such), and other vessels which are needed in the infirmary.
He ought also to have some private space, so that, when it is necessary, the sick may be properly bathed: also (he ought to have) a vat, basin, and a cauldron, and other things necessary for these (baths). He also ought to have books for singing matins for the sick. It is to be known that after the convent has risen, and the prior has returned with the convent into the cloister from the procession, he (the prior) ought to immediately visit the sick, and, if necessary, he ought to have matins and the other hours sung, and together with the infirmarer he shall arrange entirely for all eventualities for the sick, so that no one of the sick may be compelled for any failing to murmur or to be impatient. If this is not done, it must be amended by the prior. The infirmarer ought to visit the sick daily at hours set as often as necessary, and he ought to inquire as to what they desire to be prepared for them. When a sick man comes into the infirmary, the infirmarer ought to take his bedding out of the dormitory. And if he (the sick man) returns to the convent, he ought to carry back to the dormitory what he had taken out. Also he ought to ensure that a lantern burns continuously each night for the benefit of the sick.
If, however, anyone is touched by a light infirmity, or crippled by old age or else one who is blind - that he is not able to follow the community - he shall enjoy communal food if he is able; if, however, he is not able, what he needs shall be requested from the infirmarer. If anyone is touched by a light infirmity or else is feeble, such that he is not able to follow the community, but he is not in the infirmary, in the morning he shall eat in the refectory before the community, at dinner, however, (he shall eat) with the servants, and, there (i.e. in the refectory) if necessary, [something] besides the communal meal shall be prepared for him. All obedientiaries shall freely provide the infirmarer whatever he is asking for the sick. The infirmarer shall provide whatever is needed for the sick from the dues of the infirmary, and if they are not sufficient, after proper account, he shall receive [further dues] from the abbot, and if there is any surplus, he shall return it to the abbot or the steward. He also ought to have a small pan and other utensils, in which if needed, either what has been put aside from the food of the sick can be warmed up, or some side-dish or other small things (can) be prepared.
If, however, those who are in the infirmary perpetrate an offense in any way, it is the infirmarer's duty to correct them. If they have not amended [their offense], he ought to notify the prelate. It is also his responsibility that when the debility of the illness begins to worsen, he ought to announce it in chapter, so that a communal prayer may be made, and after [the sick man] has recovered, this again he ought to announce, so that the prayer may be ended. And [if] anyone in the infirmary wants to have a conference, the infirmarer ought to take the message to him who holds the convent, so that he may send whom (the sick man) wishes. Apart from that, it should be known that the infirmarer and sub-infirmarer, whether he is a conversus or canon, should receive clothing from the vestarer. A sick person is to be visited daily by the abbot or the prior, unless he is neglected for a reasonable cause. No one of the sick shall exit through the door that looks at the garden/courtyard. Whichever of the brothers visits a sick person in the hour of talking is not to linger there too long, and he is not to have empty conversations with another person in the presence of the sick, but only consoling words, and he shall not presume to eat or drink there without permission. For shaving the infirmarer shall provide basins and clean towels, and he shall keep these things.