Topic: Darfield Hospital's 70th Birthday

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In 1925 Tawera County asked the North Canterbury Hospital Board to consider setting up a maternity hospital in the district. It quoted that of the 205 local babies born in 1923, only 103 were handled by the local medical practitioner. Others went to Christchurch because of the lack of proper maternity home accom¬modation. It was agreed that a maternity hospital should be built on the corner of Creyke and Mathias Streets in Darfield to serve the counties of Selwyn, Malvem and Tawera. The hospital was opened on May 27,1927

A garden party will be held in the grounds of Darfield Hospital on March 15 to mark the hospital's 70th birthday.

In 1925 Tawera County asked the North Canterbury Hospital Board to consider setting up a maternity hospital in the district. It quoted that of the 205 local babies born in 1923, only 103 were handled by the local medical practitioner. Others went to Christchurch because of the lack of proper maternity home accommodation.

It was agreed that a maternity hospital should be built on the corner of Creyke and Mathias Streets in Darfield to serve the counties of Selwyn, Malvem and Tawera. The hospital was opened on May 27,1927 by Mrs Macmillan whose husband David Macmillan was the county representative on the hospital board. The Macmillan family made a significant contribution to the establishment of Darfield. David Macmillan senior represented the Selwyn county on the hospital board from 1891 to 1897. His son David was a member of the Charitable Aid Board and the later hospital board from l910 to 1947. His son, also David, became the first superintendent of Darfield Hospital and later senior gynaecologist on the staff at Christchurch Hospital from which he retired in 1958.

Until 1983 the hospital had eight beds which were entirely for matemity purposes. An additional two beds were added to allow for five general beds and five maternity beds. In l992 another two maternity beds became general beds. Although a public hospital, women who chose to have their babies there had to pay 12 shillings a day up until 1939.

The first patient registers are still kept at be hospital and it is hoped that the first two babies born at the hospital will attend this month's birthday celebrations. Nursing assistant Elza Stuart has worked at Darfield Hospital for 20 years. She said apart from the move to admitting general patients, very little had changed at the hospital over that time. "The patients stayed longer than they do-today. I stayed in for 14 days when I had my children." There were more unexpected arrivals than today also.

In the old days the telephone exchange closed at midnight and didn't reopen again until 6am so you couldn't telephone ahead to let them know you were coming. Today the hospital has more general patients, predominantly elderly people, than maternity patients. As well as maternity services Darfield Hospital offers palliative care, long stay beds, respite care, general medical care, post operative convalescence, day care, equipment hire, out patient services, meals on wheels and rents out rooms to other health profession. Nursing manager Helen Skurr says the hospital is always more than 90 per cent occupied but funding for its services is constantly under review.

The garden party on March 15 has been organised by Friends of Darfield Hospital, a group set up about 12 years ago to raise funds for comfort items, such as televisions and arm¬chairs, for patients. The garden party will run from 1pm to 5pm and include various stalls, a children's colouring competition, a photo competition, donkey rides, a band, face painting, a clown, a horse and cart, a lolly scramble and raffles. A tree will also be planted in the hospital grounds to mark the occasion.

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Darfield Hospital's 70th Birthday by Selwyn Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License