Hos­pi­tal’s past - Part 1

Euroa Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By JOHN SUL­LI­VAN

THE story of the Euroa Hos­pi­tal re­ally starts in An­der­son Street in Septem­ber 1927.

There was a pri­vate hos­pi­tal called Gil­burn af­ter the two nurses who op­er­ated it, named Gil­bert and Burns. They had de­cided to re­tire and af­ter some com­mu­nity moves and fund rais­ing the hos­pi­tal of six beds was pur­chased for 1200 pounds plus the fur­ni­ture for 60 pounds.

One of the first de­ci­sions to be made was to join the Vic­to­rian Bush Nurs­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (VBNA).

Ian Cur­rie, who al­ready had a con­nec­tion with VBNA, was elected pres­i­dent and con­tin­ued in this role for 47 years, along with an en­thu­si­as­tic com­mit­tee.

It soon be­came ob­vi­ous that the hos­pi­tal would not be big enough for the fu­ture, so there were fur­ther fund rais­ing ef­forts to pur­chase suit­able land on the cor­ner of Weir and Kennedy streets.

It is worth not­ing here, apart from the ma­jor fund rais­ing ef­forts, other smaller but sin­cere do­na­tions came the hos­pi­tal’s way. Com­mu­nity ef­forts in do­na­tions of cakes and veg­eta­bles for the kitchen and knit­ting var­i­ous items were a daily pat­tern. I won­der in this time of the de­pres­sion if an oc­ca­sional rab­bit may have been de­liv­ered to the kitchen and put on the menu.

The sheets were re­paired but when the re­pairs could do no more, the sheets were cut up for ban­dages.

“This was a time of ex­treme fru­gal­ity and the hos­pi­tal was run by three nurses and one do­mes­tic.

How­ever, by 1930 another full time and two part time em­ploy­ees were as­signed to house­hold du­ties, ac­cord­ing to the ‘Bush Nurs­ing in Vic­to­ria’.

Agents were set up in the sur­round­ing dis­tricts to col­lect mem­ber­ships.

Plans were drawn up by the VBNA ar­chi­tect for a 10 bed hos­pi­tal for a to­tal cost of 4145 pounds.

“The hos­pi­tal opened in 1929 with a high pro­por­tion of the dis­tricts fam­i­lies among its 345 sub­scribers. Its great suc­cess was at­trib­ut­able to the com­plete har­mony be­tween the sub­scribers, rep­re­sented by the man­age­ment com­mit­tee, the ladies aux­il­iary and the two lo­cal doc­tors,” Bush Nurs­ing Vic­to­ria re­ported.

“Euroa be­came a show place for the as­so­ci­a­tion.”

In the space of just 25 months an en­thu­si­as­tic and ded­i­cated group had suc­ceeded in firmly es­tab­lish­ing a com­mu­nity hos­pi­tal in Euroa for the many gen­er­a­tions to fol­low.

The build­ing faced Kennedy Street with the main en­trance di­rectly in front of the op­er­at­ing theatre.

This op­er­at­ing theatre stood in good stead for the hos­pi­tal for more than 50 years, with many stan­dard pro­ce­dures be­ing un­der- taken by the lo­cal doc­tors.

By 1936 with a dis­ci­plined and con­ser­va­tive ap­proach the hos­pi­tal was debt free.

How­ever, a new wing was nec­es­sary to ac­com­mo­date in­creas­ing staff.

Many of the nurs­ing staff came to Euroa for their em­ploy­ment and live-in quar­ters were es­sen­tial.

The ex­ten­sion in­cluded a nurse’s din­ing room, which in later years be­came a very crowded meet­ing room for com­mit­tee meet­ings.

The nurse’s staff wing is now the com­plete ad­min­is­tra­tion area.

Also at this time there was a ma­jor is­sue with over­crowd­ing.

With only 10 beds it was pos­si­ble 11 or 12 pa­tients were in the hos­pi­tal at once.

To over­come this dilemma the ve­randa fac­ing Kennedy Street was en­closed to pro­vide the nec­es­sary ac­com­mo­da­tion.

It should be re­mem­bered that the ve­randa was en­closed with fly wire.

Also there were large can­vas blinds to pro­tect the pa­tients dur­ing the win­ter.

Even to this day the “ve­randa” is still in use, be it in a more so­phis­ti­cated man­ner.

This area be­came an es­sen­tial part of the re­cov­ery af­ter the 1967 South­ern Aurora train crash at Vi­o­let Town when 12 pa­tients were trans­ferred to Euroa to be treated.

With the dis­ci­plined ap­proach of the com­mit­tee, the re­sults were ob­served within the VBNA or­gan­i­sa­tion, and Euroa Hos­pi­tal was classed as the “Jewel in the Crown” of VBNA.

50 YEARS ON: The hos­pi­tal af­ter some ren­o­va­tion in the late 1970s.

THE BEGIN­NING: Euroa Hos­pi­tal dur­ing con­struc­tion (circa 1925).

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