Princess Margaret Hospital
PMH 1910 - 1929
The main reason for admission is typhoid fever, pneumonia, influenza and summer diarrhoea.
Doctors apply a few drops of whisky or brandy on the tongues of patients to treat cases of severe diarrhoea. Patients are also treated with saline infusions, castor oil, barley water, rice or albumen water. Ice bags and heat treatments are applied to pneumonia patients and their heads are shaved to reduce fevers.
A 1920's labellled cot
Cot endowment becomes a reliable source of income for the hospital. Radio campaigns and regular newspaper columns, ‘Dear Auntie Nell’ and ‘Dear Uncle Tom’ at the Sunshine League catch the interest of WA children, who post letters and donations to help purchase cots.
The children become honorary Sunshine League members and surrogate nieces and nephews to Auntie Nell and Uncle Tom.
For £1,000 a cot could be endowed in perpetuity, while £50 endowed a cot for one year. Cots are labelled with brass plaques acknowledging their subscriber.
Inpatients are required to help with the daily running of the hospital in whatever way they are able such as darning socks and stockings, rolling bandages, handing out meals, dusting and tidying and preparing swabs.
Visiting hours for parents and relatives are restricted to Wednesdays and Sundays only, between 2.00pm and 4.00pm.
Patients sleep on iron framed beds with horsehair mattresses. Sometimes two children would be placed head to toe in the one bed.
Floors are timber and are polished daily to a high sheen.
Coil steam heaters are arranged down the centre of the wards during winter.
Orthopaedic patients on veranda
Each ward has a veranda where children are moved to during the day. In later years, due to space shortages, children are moved here permanently to recover.
A dedicated infants’ pavilion with 20 beds and additional nurses’ quarters opens and brings an immediate fall in infant mortality.
A dedicated bacteriology laboratory and x-ray building opens.
First honorary masseuse, Miss Catherine Macaulay commences treating children with infantile paralysis.
The hospital’s first Secretary, Mr C G Killick Esq, is appointed and remains in the position (that is later retitled Chief Executive) until 1921.
All but six nurses and the Matron resign in August to protest the conduct of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sidney John Pearson. Accreditation as a training hospital is withdrawn due to lack of trained staff to supervise the probationers.
Following mediation in September, the nurses return to work but find the situation untenable. Dr Pearson resigns and returns to the UK, the nurses return to work.
Wards 2 and 3 close due to cost-saving measures and financial constraints imposed by World War I.
In the ten years since the hospital opened, the mortality rate of admitted patients falls from 12.28 per cent in 1910 to 6.76 per cent in 1919.
The importance of children is felt all the more keenly after the tremendous loss of life during the Great War.
With thanks to the Threepenny Appeal the hospital remains open.
A measles and flu epidemic hits Perth.
Gastroenteritis and diarrhoea patients take up 15 per cent of all admissions during this period with the mortality rate of these patients peaking at an alarming 42 per cent in 1923.
Unpasteurised milk and lack of food hygiene is considered to blame for high cases of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis.
Fundraising becomes a vital source of income for the hospital with the efforts of the Ugly Men’s Voluntary Association and Women’s Auxiliary becoming instrumental in keeping the hospital running.
In the wake of World War I, the hospital endures an 18 year period of financial difficulty as Australia and the world face the beginning of the Great Depression.
A new outpatient building opens.
The Infant Health Association of WA establishes a network of clinics to encourage more women to breastfeed and provides advice in hygienic methods of bottle feeding to reduce the incidence of gastroenteritis from unpasteurised milk.
The innovative ‘Coolgardie Cot’ is set up to treat seriously ill babies in hot weather.
The hospital forms an association with the Red Cross Society’s Lady Lawley Cottage, which allocates 12 beds for convalescing patients.
On-site nurse training commences at the hospital.
1929 – 1933 The Depression Years
Between 1929 and 1933, the basic wage falls from £4/7 shillings to £3/9 shillings. Medical, nursing, dispensers and clerical staff accept pay cuts of between 18 per cent to 20 per cent, showing that staff are dedicated to keeping the doors of the hospital open.
With the Government still refusing to contribute to the running of the hospital, the Finance Committee has no choice but to recommend the closure of Ward 3.
The Hospital Tax Act is introduced in 1931 – a subsidy of six shillings per patient per day.
Infants Ward - 1911
Hospitals first x-ray machine. Pre 1920s
Lady Lawley Cottage, Cottesloe