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Hospital just gets better and better

Maroochy District Hospital in1948, had separate buildings for nurses, outpatients, men, women and maternity.


Hospital just gets better and better

A century ago, a local hospital was desperately needed to cope with cases of diphtheria and the deadly Spanish flu. AUDIENNE BLYTH revisits the days when Nambour General Hospital was known as Maroochy District Hospital.

From the beginning of European settlement, pioneers relied on one another for medical assistance. After the railway line opened in 1891, the sick and injured were sent to either Gympie or Brisbane, depending on the direction the next train was heading.

Dr Malaher was one of the district’s first doctors in 1904.

Large private homes accommodated accident victims and maternity cases. Nurses Ford, Sarah Axe, Alice Adams, Louie Adams and Martha Bade are some of the qualified nurses and midwives who set up small private hospitals before Maroochy District Hospital was established.

Fundraising for the new hospital in the communities of Landsborough, Maroochy and Noosa shires became a priority. Small community groups such as CWA met a funding quota by organising raffles, dances, sales of craft and street stalls.

Every town or group, however small, on the North Coast worked to support the building fund.

In 1927, there was a diphtheria epidemic. Members of the community who tested positive occupied the unfinished hospital which became known as the Isolation Hospital. Otherwise, carriers were sent to Wattlebrae Isolation Hospital in Brisbane.

Reginald King, acting premier and Secretary for Public Works and Public Instruction, opened the Maroochy District Hospital on February 15, 1930 and complimented the district on eight years of fundraising.

At the White Rose Café an official lunch for 100 guests honoured many of those involved in the planning and building. The Rural School Junior Red Cross formed a guard of honour and the school was rewarded with a one-day holiday granted by the acting premier.

The Town Band played as more than 500 residents gathered to hear the opening speech and were invited to tour the impressive wooden buildings catering for administration, maternity, women, men and outpatients.

Congratulations were in order but, the acting premier warned, the future running costs of the hospital needed to be met by the community and that amount would be £1500-£2000 annually, an agreed 40 per cent of the cost.

The state would fund the remainder. The building fund had been allocated the same way and the community had responded over the previous eight years.

Dr Arthur James Kennedy and Matron Mary O’Neill commenced their duties at Nambour Maroochy District Hospital on December 16, 1929, and were members of the first Nambour Hospitals Board.

Patients paid for medical assistance, yet no one was turned away who could not pay. Medicine bottles were recycled and a refund of sixpence was given.

The community supported the hospital not only in cash donations but as residents, friends and family often dropped in surplus oranges and bananas, newspapers, flowers and books.

The Maroochy District Hospital has become known as the Nambour General Hospital and the community no longer has to fund 40 per cent of the running costs.

Continuous improvements and major redevelopments have occurred.

Government investment is $86 million dollars in the coming year. The number of beds will double from 137 to 255.

There will be wondrous advantages with increased emergency care and greater capacity, refurbishment of units for special services like cancer care, a better emergency area and a new kitchen.

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