Yesterday, today and tomorrow: 110 years of healthcare in Berwick

It seems an odd time to celebrate with the current COVID-19 health crisis but taking a moment to acknowledge the hospital’s 110th anniversary may be just the ray of light we all need.

Celebrating 1110 yearsOn March 23rd 1910 Nurse Grace Dunphy and Dr Percy Langmore signed the registration of application for a private hospital in Berwick. The little hospital, known as Shepton Private Hospital, run from a tiny weatherboard house at Station Street was the foundation of today’s St John of God Berwick Hospital.

Only 9 years into its establishment, in 1919, the world was faced with the influenza epidemic. The Berwick township were prepared and worked together to face it head on. The hospital responded with free inoculations given by Dr Percy Langmore at the Mechanics Hall . The local state school was equipped and ready for patients, should they come, with Sr Duigan acting as matron of the makeshift hospital.

So how does this story of the past offer us hope?

It’s somewhat reassuring to know that the St John of Berwick Hospital team continue to carry on the legacy of healthcare past and follow in the footsteps of doctors and nurses who, despite the tiny facility they operated from, were proactive and collaborative in the treatment of their patients.

Today, as we reflect on this rich history we cannot deny the anxiety felt by our community, however we know that our community are in the best hands. Hospital management are meeting regularly and have plans in place to ensure preparedness in the very worst case scenario. These plans and response strategies are fluid, changing as quickly as the pandemic requires.

As we move through the coming days, which may feel trying and difficult, take a moment to look back. Remember the hardships faced by our region 110 years ago and how they planned, prepared, responded and survived. They did this without the technology, medications and knowledge we have today. Let this be a small light at the end of the tunnel.

We celebrate 110 years of healthcare in Berwick.

We were there then, we are here now and we will be there tomorrow to care for our community.

Article translation:

Free inoculations are given at Berwick on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, at the Mechanics hall by Dr Langmore, and at Pakenham on Wednesdays and Saturdays by Dr White. So far there have not been a great number of influenza cases reported in the Berwick shire, and those in authority are working hard to check the plague.

BERWICK--A large and representative meeting of citizens was held in the open air on Monday night, under the presidency of Dr Langmore, health officer for the district. A report of the quiet but
efficient work already accomplished to combat the dangers of influenza was given. The local State school is now equipped and ready for the patients which we hope may never come. Sister Duigan will be matron in charge of this hospital, assisted by Nurse White, and, with a staff of V.A.D'e. who, with true British loyalty, offered their services. The appreciation of the meeting found expression in cheers for Mr Geo. Wilson, who has generously offered "Wilson House" for the use of the nursing staff while the epidemic lasts.

The Messrs Pearson, Williamson and W. Wilson also made offers of liberal help towards securing comfort for patients and the staff.  A central hospital committee was elected, consisting of Ors Bailey, a'Beckett and Pearsou, Mesdames Brown and Bos ton. A most important committee was then formed, viz, the transport committee, the members being Messrs Triado, Barker, E. Henry, J Richardson and W Fritzlaff. The committee is to bring in or take out patients, throughout the shire; as the doctors direct. Cr Anderson, Upper Beaconsfield, was present, and gave his assurance of help from that end of the shire. Mr Aherno, shire secretary, intelligently explained everyone's duties re the epidemic. The ladies will form a committee, to attend to laundry and other items.

A public meeting of ladies throughout the shire. also Cranbourne and Clyde, has been convened for Saturday next at Berwick, for the purpose of forming an energetic committee to attend to sewing comforts and the immediate necessities for the hospital

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