Florence herself landed in Scutari in early November of 1854, and discovered that the medical conditions there were absolutely horrendous. The "hospital" of that time lacked many of the basics we consider integral to modern hospitals, including proper hygiene, medication, and bedding. "The hospital sat on top of a large cesspool, which contaminated the water and the building itself. Patients lay in their own excrement on stretchers strewn throughout the hallways. Rodents and bugs scurried past them. The most basic supplies, such as bandages and soap, grew increasingly scarce as the number of ill and wounded steadily increased. Even water needed to be rationed. More soldiers were dying from infectious diseases like typhoid and cholera than from injuries incurred in battle.(Florence Nightingale Biography)
It was Florence's responsibility to work with and oversee the 38 other nurses who arrived with her as they cleaned and dressed wounds, cooked and fed the soldiers in their wards, and in general, kept everything much more sanitary. In many ways, Florence and her nurses were expected to be glorified house maids.
"An article published about her in the Times newspaper on Thursday 8 February 1855, which reads: ‘She is a “ministering angel” without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor every poor fellow’s face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night, and silence and darkness have settled down upon these miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.’ The mention of the miles of sick relates to contemporary reports that the wards at Scutari stretched for four miles." (National Archives)
While in Scutari, she began researching and advocating for reforming medical hospitals, particularly the living conditions of the soldiers. After she returned to England, she worked to improve sanitation in both hospitals and regular homes, and began the first modern nursing school.
"Fox-Hunting Recollections" Sir Reginald Graham, Bart. (available for free on Google Books)