- News of the day
'Visitor' (Cloncurry) writes : "A more disreputable looking barn than the Cloncurry Hospital it would be hard to find anywhere. The conveniences for the use of both patients and staff are (he says) a disgrace, that could be easily removed by a little outlay." Our correspondent concludes by saying that "he does not expect any alteration for the better in the institution until the miners and bushmen look into the matter, and appoint representatives of their own to manage the affairs of the hospital."
The story of the establishment of the Cloncurry District Hospital is truly inspiring for from small beginnings has grown an institution that holds a high place in Queensland country centres.
The hospital had its beginning in 1889, the founders being Messrs. George Hart, George Seymour and John Absolon. It is situated about two miles east of the town, and on the northern side of a high stony hill. As most dust storms occur from the south, the situation in regard to weather is ideal. The grade is from one foot at the rear of the building to about 12 feet in front, which gives a good drainage to a creek l50 yards to the north.
The first staff consisted of a wardsman named Kiernan, assisted by his wife who acted as matron. They were followed by Geo Lawes and his wife, Lawe having some slight knowledge of medicine. A doctor was only called upon when necessary, and when that was so, the wardsman would at night run up a red lantern to the top of a pole on the hill, or by day hoist a red flag. The doctor would then come by foot to the hospital.
The first building contained two wards, one each for men and women patients, and was built of pitsawn hardwood, and although built over 50 years ago still stands and houses the domestic staff.
In the early days no provision was made for an operating theatre, operations being carried out on an ordinary table with the only illumination from hurricane kerosene lamps. To-day the well-equipped operating theatre and shadowless light in addition to other modern hospital conveniences make the Cloncurry District Hospital one of the most compact and up-to-date in the State.
In 1891 owing to the lack of funds the hospital was closed for a period, but with the help of the State Government, which contributed £2 for every £1 collected, the hospital was re-opened and no difficulty of a similar nature has ever arisen since.
The first secretary of the hospital was Mr. R. Allan, followed by Mr. S. Donner, and later by Mr. Giles Trenfield, who has held the office for 30 years, a very honorable record. For it is due to him that the hospital has reached the fine stage that it is in at present. Mr. Trenfield's knowledge and advice during the long period of secretaryship, and his skilful manipulation of the finances has made the Cloncurry Hospital remain one of the very few non-districted hospitals in Queensland, a fact that is appreciated by the people of Cloncurry and district.
A long arduous road towards progress begun in the early stages, the numerous difficulties that had to be overcome were most disheartening. Doctors were hard to secure, and it was not until 1905 that a general practitioner's services were available to the hospital, Dr. Campbell being appointed, to be followed by Drs. Cuthbert, Stokes and Katz, all of whom died in a comparatively short period. Dr. McLennan was surgeon for 10 years, Dr. Shepherdson for eight years and Dr. Joyce (now in Winton) for seven years. Dr. Burnett was until his death three years ago, the hospital surgeon. To-day the hospital is fortunate in having two medical officers Dr. Alberry of the Flying Service and Dr. Edna Thomas. The staff numbers 19, consisting of 13 sisters and nurses including the matron and 6 domestics. The daily average of indoor patients is 30.
The present hospital buildings were erected in 1912, and include three large wards and a maternity wing, also nurses' and doctors' quarters. In addition to the extensive improvements in the modern operating theatre already mentioned, an up-to-date X-ray plant was installed in 1930. In 1937 an electric lighting system was introduced throughout and over 150 lights are maintained.
The hospital has accommodation for 50 in-patients.
Of the members of the hospital committee who have served through the long years all gave unstinting effort to the welfare of the hospital. But the record of Mr. Thomas Woodhouse surely deserves mention in these notes. He has rendered sterling service having been elected each year for 27 years, and now although past the prime of life still takes an active part in hospital affairs. It can be truly said that the joint efforts of Mr. Thomas Woodhouse and Mr. Giles Trenfield have contributed to the fact that the Cloncurry District Hospital maintains the high reputation that it has had for many years.