The Remarkable Forties and Progressive Fifties
The forties were a remarkable time for both medical science and Eudunda Hospital. Penicillin was used for the first time in South Australia, and immunisation against diphtheria became general, followed by immunisation against a wide range of diseases over the years. The guarding against German measles probably had the most impact on society. The polio outbreak swept the state; and Eudunda Hospital was keeping pace with all these new immunisations.
The Hospital felt the great influx of people from the Robertstown district, due to work on connecting the Morgan-Whyalla pipeline. This led to a record of 267 patients admitted, of these 58 were obstetric cases.
During the war years, nurses worked longer for less pay, than many war workers in munitions and other walks of life. Consequently, there was discontent felt among the nurses at the Hospital. Matron Eckermann, Dr. Thomas and Chairman of the Board George Hambour quickly thwarted an attempted walkout by nurses, by interrupting the runaway nurses on the platform of Eudunda Railway Station!
In 1946, members of the Eudunda Red Cross considered the need to purchase an ambulance for the district. Doctor Thomas was elected chairman of the Ambulance Committee, and Secretary Herb Wuttke was sent to Darwin to purchase a 4-berth Chevrolet ex-service ambulance. Mr. H.O. Leditschke laboured voluntarily to restore the vehicle; in 1948 the first patient was conveyed from Morgan to Eudunda Hospital.
The vegetable garden was in fine condition, which was a credit to the handyman. This was an asset during the war years, when the price of vegetables soured. Money was always a concern during the war years, together with the rationing of staples such as butter and dried fruit. 1950 seemed to be a year of rises in Hospital fees, however surprisingly, the price of a circumcision was reduced to 10/6 ( ten shillings and six pence). The cook’s wages increased as did wages of sisters and nurses, resulting in an increase in patient fees.
A midwifery and general ward dedicated to Dr. Thomas was opened in 1951 because of his deep concern for maternity cases. Many women were prepared to travel long distances to have Dr. Thomas attend their confinements, for in his hands they felt safe. It was not difficult to imagine the gloom with Dr. Thomas’ sudden death in 1949. The whole district mourned the loss of a valued friend.
In 1950, Dr. Ben Brookman ably filled the position formerly held by Dr. Thomas.
In 1947, in response to Mr. Lampard’s remembering with gratitude the care he had received in Eudunda Hospital during his long illness, he willed the residue of his estate to Eudunda Hospital. A large grey monument was erected to acknowledge Mr. Lampard’s contribution, and this Lampard Memorial was completed in 1956.
By 1951, improvements in the Hospital included a Trilene Anaesthetic machine, also a Theatre Emergency Lamp, a new lounge to brighten the nurses quarters, the kitchen benefitted by a water softener and an exhaust fan, an Ironer costing 650 pounds ( approximately $1,300 ) which greatly lessened the workload in the laundry.
In 1954 both Matron Eckermann ( 15 years service ) and Dr. Brookman were farewelled, and in 1955 Drs. MP Kearney and DC Bowering were welcomed by Mr. George Hambour, Board Chairman, and wished them happy residence at Eudunda.
The Eudunda Hospital Auxiliary formed in 1958, beginning a long association of support with the Hospital raising money for much-needed equipment.
The pioneer doctors, matrons and nurses had all served Eudunda Hospital extremely well, supported to the fullest extent by a responsible, hard-working Board. The gift list throughout the war years and beyond was never ending from community members, church groups and clubs.
Eudunda Hospital Centenary Committee acknowledge and thank Jenny Schutz for permission to use excerpts from her mother’s book “The Light on the Hill – by Wynnis J. Ruediger” for the history of Eudunda Hospital articles.