The first healthcare facility on Gloucester Avenue Berwick was Shepton Private Hospital. It was opened by Dr Percy Langmore and Nurse Grace Dunphy in 1910. The hospital was located in a former residence (built c 1880) that had been used as a school for a few years previously.
In 1925 Shepton was renamed St Leonard's Private Hospital.
On March 9, 1940 Dr Percy Langmore opened the first Berwick and District Bush Nursing Hospital on Gloucester Avenue. Alongside three nurses, they provided hospital services for the 1,000 residents of Berwick. The weatherboard building had 11 rooms, a ward for seven patients and an operating theatre. There was sufficient land for a vegetable garden, as well as a cow for milk, butter and cream. Dr Percy Langmore's son, Leonard, followed in his father's footsteps, becoming doctor and practicing in Berwick, becoming a key figure in the progression and growth of healthcare in the region.
By 1948 it became apparent that the hospital would need to expand and public fundraising allowed the redevelopment of the existing hospital and more land was purchased in 1953. The Percy Langmore Wing opened on 3 May 1953. Four additional wards were opened, as well as an operating theatre, birthing ward and a new kitchen allowing the hospital to treat 275 patients a year.
The Hospital Auxiliary was also established in 1952 to raise funds to help the hospital and continues today – many years on, to be an integral part of the Berwick community.
Further development in the 1970’s introduced occupational therapy, a nursing home and casualty and outpatient services and in 1987 the hospital changed its name to Berwick Hospital Inc. In 1991 Stephenson House was opened. Stephenson House was named in recognition of Dr Noel L Stephenson’s contribution to the hospital and community over the past 39 years, of which he had been president for 35 years.
St John of God Health Care continued the legacy of the early pioneers when it purchased the hospital in 2003 and began a period of expansion and modernisation that would help meet the health care demands of the growing population of Casey and Cardinia. In 2013 the hospital was proud to open the Day Oncology Unit at Gibb St, a much needed service for the community. The demand quickly grew and the facility was soon outgrown. The St John of God Berwick Specialist Centre opened at Kangan Drive in 2014, which became home to a custom built and larger Day Oncology Centre along with a community wig service.
In January 2016 construction commenced on new the hospital at 75 Kangan Drive. The new hospital took two years to build and opened on January 18th 2018. It saw the first Cardiac and Vascular Catheter Laboratory and Intensive Care Unit in region along with the hospital’s first rehabilitation unit. With such a legacy to carry across to the new hospital, the management team placed incredible importance on recruiting caregivers who shared the hospital’s values and could continue the hospital’s culture of community care.Soon after opening, in early 2019, the level 4 Orthopaedic and spinal surgical unit opened.
Berwick and the south east Melbourne region has constantly grown since the little Shepton Hospital opened in 1910 and St John of God Berwick Hospital continues to carry on its vision of striving to meet community need and provide care closer to home.
In late 2019, a community engagement campaign was undertaken to determine how best the original Gibb Street site, now known as the St John of God Langmore Centre, could be developed to provide new healthcare services for the region and in 2020, 110 years after it first opened in the old house hospital, the site will be repurposed to provide care for local patients.
Just as the Bush Nursing Hospital experienced fluctuating membership over the years in response to changing social and economic circumstances, the hospital still responds today to ever changing needs and models of health care delivery by listening to the community, caregivers and doctors and setting a vision for the future.
Planning is underway for the next stage of development at Kangan Drive with importance placed on providing services of importance as indicated by the community, and is likely to include an emergency department, more theatres, specialised inpatient units and purpose built rehabilitation services.