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Vintage Photos: Early Hospital Services

Early settlers cared for their ill and dying family members at home with the aid of basic home remedies and medications. In the years when the closest hospitals were in Winnipeg or Morden, accidents and communicable diseases such as smallpox and diphtheria took their toll. Private nursing homes, operated by trained nurses, provided care for many mothers and babies.

Carman was fortunate to have resident doctors from 1880 onward but it was not until 1905 that the first Carman hospital was opened for service to the community (The Dufferin Leader, Feb. 2, 1905, p.1). It was located on five acres of land on the east side of O’Brien Avenue (2nd St SE) facing Walnut Street (2nd Avenue SE) on the west and was a community effort. Local women took the initiative in organizing fund-raising and canvassing for the hospital which was built at a cost of $6,500. The frame structure was said to be ‘commodious and well-appointed’, with accommodation initially for ten patients. The building had a brick foundation and measured 36 feet by 36 feet in size, with two stories, a basement and attic and hot water heating. The main floor had an office, operating room, private room, bathroom and two general wards; the second floor contained the matron’s room, nurses’ rooms, housekeeper’s quarters and three private wards and a bathroom. Manoeuvering stretchers upstairs to the second floor was a challenge. The basement housed the kitchen, dining room, laundry, coal room and storage. Over the ensuing years, the Women’s Hospital Aid were a prime force in maintaining the hospital, providing furnishings, linens, food and other supplies through their dedicated fund-raising activities.

Early hospitals provided nursing care by establishing schools of nursing in which student nurses trained and worked under the supervision of a qualified registered nurse, the matron. Miss Venables, the first Matron and Head Nurse was hired at a salary of $40 per month. The Hospital offered training for nurses from 1905 until closure of the program in1947. During that time, over 120 nurses received training in a three year program. In 1911, a nurses’ home was built beside the hospital.

The hospital served a large community and was fully occupied. In 1919, an addition was made and by 1945, a new two-story hospital was planned. Built at a cost of $175,000, it had two operating rooms, a nursery, x-ray unit, forty-three beds and up-to-date equipment and safety features. Carman Memorial Hospital served the Town and surrounding municipalities until the 1982 when it was replaced by the present facility in the south-west end of town.
See also: The History of the R.M. of Dufferin in Manitoba, 1880–1980, pp. 254-257 and
The Dufferin Leader, Feb 2 1905, p.1 (access online through Pembina Manitou Archive)