stories, photos, anecdotes….. sharing the past
The story of hospital services in Parkes is indeed an old one. Ron Tindall observed that the “…provision of hospital services was a cause taken up before the creation of Parkes Municipal Council” (p163). While Parkes now boasts a new $113.7M hospital just off the Forbes Road, the early miners and settlers had to endure significantly more primitive health services.
The extent of medical services available to the mining population at Currajong, Bushmans and Parkes is still the subject of conjecture. When the petition was taken in 1864 to secure improved mail services to Currajong signatories included Chas Harris, surgeon, T.N. South (postal historians had trouble deciphering this name) doctor, with W. Wilmington listed as chemist.
At McGuigans in 1874 among the businesses in the main street were those of chemists A. Baker, I.R. Raymond and J.W. Towle. It would have to be assumed that bark structures or tents served as hospital facilities. Source: Parkes: 100 Years of Local Government by Ron Tindall (editor) (1983) Griffin Press Limited: Netley, South Australia, page 163
Displaying the community collaboration that the Parkes Shire is famous for, auxiliary boards and volunteers would meet regularly to plan, raise funds and maintain the buildings and facilities. The hospital committee brought together many pillars of the community. Many names will be familiar with long-term residents: John Medlyn, Dr Boazman, Dr Johnson and Nurse Keys are just some of the hardworking professionals who ensured the district had a high quality health service.
During the 1950s and 1960s the swimming pool was utilised for its social benefits as well as its therapeutic qualities. According to various members of the community, the young men of the area would flock to the pool in the summer, hoping to strike up a conversation with one of the nurses – this being a time when nursing was predominantly a female profession. The nurses’ quarters were close to full capacity forty years ago, however in recent times it barely had two nurses staying there – if any nurses using the accommodation at all. With the new hospital open for use, many residents were concerned about what would happen to the old hospital site. Learning from the experiences of old Orange Base Hospital, Parkes Shire Council has purchased the land and will put it to use.
Photograph of the time capsule from Parkes Hospital being uncovered after 111 years. Present at this historic occasion are (from left to right) local state MP, Andrew Gee; President of Parkes Historical Society, Yvonne Hutton (granddaughter of the Hospital President at the time, John Medlyn); Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner; and Scott McLachlan (Chief Executive Officer of the Western NSW Local Health District). Source: Parkes Champion Post Monday August 24, 2015 page 1
A time capsule over one hundred and eleven years old has been opened in Parkes. The capsule was put in the ground when the new hospital at the time was built. That tradition will continue when the New Parkes Hospital is officially opened next year.
Reporter: Kate Fotheringham
There was an emotional farewell when former maternity nurses assembled in the old hospital one last time. Once Rosedurnate ceased being a private hospital, the majority of births in Parkes were delivered in the old Parkes hospital. Some of the maternity nurses who worked in the old hospital were Jan Freeman (since 1958), Lee Ramsay (since 1959), Ann Goodie (1965), Barbara Stokes (1972), Sue Strahorn (1971), Louise Berkeley (1971), Barbara Donnelly (1973), Pam Moule (1960), Thelma Kiley (1974), Irene Ross (1972), Merran Cannon (1986), Kris Smith (1992), Cath Ryan (2000), Jacki Hicks (1973), Sharon James (2008), Hannah Dixon (2011), Jo Burke (1978), Talicia Norrie (graduate), Julianne Ball, Jennifer McClelland and Kyla Brooke (midwife 2008).Source: Parkes Champion Post November 13, 2015
Parkes Shire Library would like to thank the following people and organisations for their information and photographs that helped make this post possible: Ian Chambers, Brett Miller, and Yvonne Hutton. If you have stories or memories that you are willing to share about the old Parkes Hospital, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that they can be shared and kept for posterity on this blog. Alternatively you may leave comments on this page.