How money problems nearly killed hospital

IT WAS on the 15th April 1856 when the people of Ipswich held a meeting to take steps towards the establishment of a hospital.

A site of 5 acres on Denmark Hill was granted by the Colonial Secretary and at a June 1858 meeting the tender of Messrs McCormack & Crosby of 1060 pounds was accepted for the erection of a brick building and the tender of Messrs MacBey & Murray at 850 pounds was accepted for the wood, fittings and fastenings.

In addition the plumbing work was done by Mr Louis Heitz.

The first patient was admitted to the hospital on the 3rd March 1860 and the medical staff was Matron Miss Ellen Raymond, Drs Challinor, Morrison and Rowlands.

The number of patients received into the hospital during 1862 was 128.

The Ipswich General Hospital as we know it today is a far cry from the one built in 1860 but let us look back at some of the incidents which took place in the early days.



In 1870 the hospital faced its first major crisis. This was the news from the committee "The Ipswich hospital has been compelled by want of funds to announce that no more patients can be received and what is far worse, the institution is likely to be closed altogether in a few days"

A later announcement of June 23 1870 reads: "The acting committee hereby notifies that in consequence of being without funds, no more patients will be received nor relief issued to the outdoor poor from this day".

By July 2, 1870 the Government "by moderate timely assistance" relieved the committee temporarily at any rate from its painful position.

It forwarded 750 pounds to the hospital committee to enable it to continue its good work.



Tenders were called in February 1877 by the hospital for: Port wines in quarter casks, ale and porter per hogshead, spirits, coal, candles, kerosene, groceries, bedding, and drapery.



Some improvements were made to the hospital in 1875. These were designed by Mr F Heeney the resident dispenser and were carried out by some of the patients who were able to work a few hours a day.

Wooden kerbing was made, drains improved, a brick pathway made and plant planted.

With these improvements it was considered that: "The place presents a pleasing sight to the eyes of visitors".



A triangular piece of land bounded by Warwick, East and Gray streets Ipswich was granted to the hospital by the Minister of Lands in August 1883.



A total of 97 outdoor patients were attended to at the hospital in the month of January 1889 and among them were 21 suffering with Typhoid fever.

Dr Thornton was to have tents erected in suitable places for the expected increase in the numbers of patients.

The first reported case of Bubonic plague was reported in the Brassall division and it occurred in May 1890.

By October 7, 1903 there were 11 patients in hospital with Scarlet Fever and most of these were from Brassall. This resulted in the closure of the school so it could be disinfected.

In the month of May 1905 Dengue fever was prolific in Ipswich and surrounding districts.

This caused the death of many people.



A new operating table arrived at the hospital in February 1900.

It came from Messrs Arnold & Sons, London and was constructed of iron, was enamelled white, had a plate-glass top and nickel plated fillings.

There was an arrangement of levers on the table which enabled it to be placed in almost any position for operating purposes. It was the first of its kind in Australia.



In the 5 year period - 1898 to 1902 - the hospital found its costs had soared.

A statement released in 1903 showed that in 1898 the hospital had 869 patients with an average cost of 3 shillings and two pence each per day. In 1902 patients numbered 813 and the cost for each had risen to 3 shillings and nine pence daily.



Channing Neill, Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery, proposed to form a first aid class in Ipswich in 1886. He would lecture on the plan laid down by the St John's Ambulance Association of England.

The first of the lectures was held on July 20 1866 in the Drill Hall.



Dr D Cameron, youngest son of Mr D Cameron M.A former headmaster of the Ipswich Grammar School, was appointed one of two resident medical officers of the Sydney hospital in 1902.

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