Bulli and Woonona citizens can well feel proud that they have one of the most modern hospitals in the State. It is capably controlled by a Board of directors led by the president, Mr. G. Hughes and secretary, Mr. C. R. Veigel.
The early history of the Bulli Hospital is very interesting. To say the modern hospital is a far cry from the early days when the small but compact Cottage Hospital served the area.
A committee was formed in 1880 to arrange for the building of a Cottage Hospital in Bulli, this project was arrived at, and this present site was granted for the purpose by a Mrs. E. Organ of Bulli, (well known identity of the District).
In 1891 financial assistance of £500 was granted by the Government through Mr. Woodwood who was the local member at that time. Plans for the new Hospital were prepared by Mr. Kenwood the builder being Mr. J. Myles. On June 11th, 1892, the foundation stone was laid by Mr. Francis Woodwood.
The first committee formed comprised the following: H. S. Fry, Chairman. A, S. Artis, Vice Chairman. A. G. Chapman & J. B. Nicholson, Joint Secretaries. S. A. Cope Hon. Treasurer.
The building consisted of a Male Ward containing three beds a Female Ward containing two beds, a small operating theatre in front of the building, and Matron’s Bedroom, this building being of brick with a small detached kitchen built of wood.
Furnishings of the hospital were contracted for, and H. S. Fry was successful in obtaining the contract for the magnificent sum of £125/14/3. Furnishings for the kitchen costing £6/5/0 and purchased by Mr. Artis, by resolution of the Committee.
In those days there was only a bush track leading to the hospital. After much agitation by the Committee, they were successful in having a roadway made through a gate way to the main highway.
Rules of the Kiama Hospital were adopted for the Bulli Hospital in 1893. In December, 1893, applications were made through the local press calling for applications for the position of Matron and Superintendent Wardsman (a married couple without encumbrances) at the sum of £40 per annum.
In the year 1894 the Committee agreed it was necessary to call for subscriptions. This was done and a 1d per week was subscription arranged.
In January, 1894, Dr. Kane and Dr. Sturt were appointed as Honorary Medical Officers. Applications were received from two couples for the position of Matron and Superintendent Wardsman, and Mr. and Mrs Thompson were appointed in this capacity on 1/2/1894 in which they remained for four years.
The rules of the hospital were very rigid, and all patients were to pay their accounts or chances of further admission to the hospital would be prejudiced.
One rule of the hospital was that no patient could be admitted to the hospital unless strongly recommended by the doctor and the approval signatures of two members of the Hospital Board.
Some patients who were asked to leave the hospital were very reluctant not to be discharged until they fully recovered from their illness and it is noted from the minute book that on several occasion the police had to be called to remove such persons.
In 1906 additions were made to the hospital, being the installation from three to seven beds in the male ward, a new operating theatre, and wardsman quarters. Additional land was purchased in 1901 on the south eastern side of the hospital where the tennis court now stands. A small two-roomed weatherboard nurses’ home was erected in front of the hospital in 1912, which was later used as the nurses night quarters, together with a newly built nurses’ home, on the land purchased in 1911.
Later on this building was shifted to the back of the hospital. In 1914 the Septic System was installed throughout the Hospital, which until now was serviced by the local council. The kitchen and laundry plant erected in 1922 and opened for use in 1924, is still in use to the present day.
During the depression years the Minister for Health Mr. Weaver, opened the Isolation Block consisting of eight beds and costing £3000, which was of no expense to the hospital, the Government providing the necessary finance. This building was built by day labour, and proved an asset to the community.
In 1928 the first X-ray plant was installed. The Bellambi Coal Co. gave a most generous donation of £1200 for the installation of same. At this time the action was indeed appreciated.
In 1936 a further Nurses Home was built, on the site of the now present Nurses’ Home. This home was opened by Mr. Fitzimmons M.H.R.
In 1943 a survey of the hospital’s wants was made by Mr. H. R. Digby M.H.R. of the Hospitals Commission and from this resulted a grant of £710 for the building of a hospital mortuary. During this year plans and specifications were drawn up for the present building, which included a new Out-Patients Department, X-ray plant, a modern operating theatre, and a new male ward consisting of 18 beds, also a modern new store room, and change room for the staff.
Plans were also drawn up for a new Nurses’ Home to be built of brick, and containing 20 bedrooms and annexes. The foundation stone of the new Hospital was laid by Mr. C. A. Kelly, Minister for Health on the 16th February, 1946, and Dr. C. R. Palmer laid the foundation of the Maternity block on the 24th August, 1946.
The Hospital was officially opened by Mr. L. B. Kelly M.L.A., assisted by Mr. H. R. Digby and various other members from the Hospitals Commission.
It was not until 1948 that the maternity ward was opened. The first baby was born on Mothers’ Day of that year. Mr. G. Hughes, the present President of the Hospital was the first patient in the new Male Ward. Dr. C. R. Palmer assisted by Dr. Caselberg and staff had the honour of performing the first operation in the new theatre.
In 1949 plans specifications were drawn up for added additions to the new nurses’ home, at a cost of £2300. This consisted of 19 bedrooms and annexes, also a recreation room. This project was finished this year and officially opened by Dr. C. R. Palmer in September of this year.
The operating theatre as previously stated is one of the most up to date of its kind in Australia, being air-conditioned throughout, and situated in a central position handy to all parts of the Hospital.
The Children’s Ward, or Ellis Ward, to give it, its correct name is a paradise to all children. The walls have been painted by the famous children’s painter Pixie O’Harris, and situated in the centre of the ward is a fish pond kindly donated by Dr. F. K. Bartlett. There is also a rocking horse to keep the not so sick children amused.
This ward as you may gather is always filled to capacity, and somewhat relieves the strain from the general wards. The added advantage of the new out-patients department is proving itself as a department that could not be done without. The hospital’s dispensary which is situated opposite the out-patients department has also proved an asset with its neatly kept cupboards and shelves.
During the year 1892 the number of patients treated was 12, the income for the year was £142, and the expenditure £135. Land buildings were valued at £650, equipment £140, compared with the year 1950, when the number of patients treated was 1537 and number of babies born 282, the number of out-patients treated were 2,968, the number of bed days for the year was 15,907. The daily average was 47.5.
The average stay of in-patients days were 10.3 days and the cost of running the Hospital for the year was £39,098. The land and buildings were valued at £80,300. Plant and equipment £15,034.
The Board of Directors as at present: G. Hughes, President; Rev. R. K. Hogben, vice-president; H. Gibson, Treasurer; C. R. Veigel, Secretary; H. Hobbs; E. Lacey, C. Dodd, J. O. Nixon, M. Barrett, P. Cunningham.
– South Coast Times Monday 26 November 1951