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Dateline Cowichan: Work begins on plans for a new hospital

King’s Daughters’ Hospital on Cairnsmore St. 1913, as photographed by FA Monk. This photo shows the 1 1/2-storey building and the new extension for the maternity ward wing. The matron is standing at the right front corner. To the left is the gardener.  - courtesy Cowichan Valley Museum and Archive
King’s Daughters’ Hospital on Cairnsmore St. 1913, as photographed by FA Monk. This photo shows the 1 1/2-storey building and the new extension for the maternity ward wing. The matron is standing at the right front corner. To the left is the gardener.
— image credit: courtesy Cowichan Valley Museum and Archive

After the initial surprise that we need a new hospital fewer than 50 years after Cowichan District Hospital opened in 1967, we have begun to see the shortcomings of the present facility.

Although still able to offer a broad range of diagnostic and acute care services, its staff often struggles with finding beds for the sick and injured and corridors fill with supplies and equipment that have no other home.

So the push for a modern, high-tech hospital began – just as it did in the 1950s. By May 1954, members of the hospital board, the medical society and a citizens’ committee were planning a public meeting to answer questions about the proposed $1.4 million building that would replace the 1911 hospital operated by the Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons. In 1932, that 60-bed facility on Cairnsmore Street was turned over to the Cowichan District Hospital Association.

It would be important to rally residents into supporting a new hospital, and the meeting would take the form of a panel, said Mr. Henry Irwin, chairman of the citizens’ committee and a member of the hospital board. Although no definite site had been selected, Irwin hoped plans for the new facility would garner public support.

1954: sewers

A hook-up to the City of Duncan’s sewer system at a cost of $8,000 was approved by the hospital board after it was revealed the 44-year-old building had reached its limit with the present system.

1954: castles

After inheriting the contents of 80-room medieval Pollok Castle near Glasgow, Scotland, Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Fergusson-Pollok were wondering how to dispose of furnishings, books, carpets and paintings cramming Hycroft, their home just south of Duncan.

1954: high tea

Graduating nurses honoured at a Cuff Link Tea included Elizabeth Neal, Duncan; Wilma Cain, Chemainus; Frances Carpentier, Lake Cowichan; Carole Lipsack, Honeymoon Bay; Barbara Taylor, Youbou; and Barbara Parr, Cobble Hill.

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