Hospital Talk By Francine Payne

This term Year 4 were lucky enough to have a local historian Francine Payne visit.  She gave a talk about our local area in the past. It was really interesting. We learnt about the isolation hospital ships for smallpox patients, which were made from old battle ships and a ferry. Dr Birdwood was in charge at the beginning and then Dr Ricketts, Dr Cameron, Dr Marsden and more. The wards were bright and airy, as they used the cannon holes to let in the light. The children saw many photos of the insides of these ships. In 1890 they even had electricity, which was very unusual at the time. The patients were taken to the ships by white cross ambulance ships. Francine showed a photo of a child in one of the deep beds on the boat. They had these for the patients, so they did not roll out! The Health Authority knew these ships were temporary as they planned to build an isolation hospital.

The first hospital was built at Long Reach. There were many rows of buildings with neat wards of 20 beds, with tables in the middle, also the nurses looked very smart in their uniforms.

The Orchard hospital was built in 1902. This was an Australian hospital, so Australian soldiers were patients from WWI. After the war it became an isolation hospital for thousands of patients with different diseases including smallpox, but only one nurse died from smallpox in all the time it was open.

Girls tried on some nurses caps from the 1900s. Francine explained Matron would have fired any nurse she saw wearing her uniform outside of the ward.

To reduce your temperature, you were packed in ice, with an ice cube in your mouth to keep you hydrated. You were fed beef tea and milk custards to build up your body. Beef tea is a soup made from beef and lots of vegetables and it is full of the vitamins your body needs to heal.

Dr Ricketts was mentioned when the World Health Organisation declared smallpox was eradicated in 1987.

The local street names are in memory of some of the doctors from Joyce Green Hospital. Matron Couzins, Dr Marsden, Dr Cameron and Dr Birdwood to name a few.

Also some of the soldiers who were treated carved their names in the soft bricks at Joyce Green Hospital.

There was a massive laundry room, to keep sheets, caps and aprons clean they were washed at 200 degrees.

Later came a recreation room for the staff, nurses rooms, doctors rooms and of course more wards.

Smallpox patients were given a certificate when they were well to show they were free from disease, so that everyone would now you were now clear, as people were very worried about employing someone with smallpox.

Between 1891 and 1902 there were between 60000 and 9000 deaths from smallpox and there was a cemetery consecrated by the bishop and there were 1500 graves. This is now called Enchanted Woodland. There are still some gravestones there.

After the talk the children had a chance to ask a variety of questions and Francine very patiently answered them. It was a great morning, which not only taught us lots, but it made us really appreciate living today and not in the past.



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