#ThrowbackThursday: Last days of Old Bega Hospital

A patient is moved from the Old Bega Hospital to the new Bega District Hospital on July 2, 1956. Can anyone recognise the people in this photo?
A patient is moved from the Old Bega Hospital to the new Bega District Hospital on July 2, 1956. Can anyone recognise the people in this photo?

THE Bega District News recently announced the launch of Capturing the Memories, a project to gather stories and photos of the Old Bega Hospital when it was the Bega District Hospital (BDN, 17/7).

In that article it was stated the new hospital (now the present hospital) was opened in 1957.

Rita Roberts wrote in to refute that claim.

She said her eldest daughter, Mary, was born on July 2, 1956, at the old hospital, the second-last child to be born in that building, and the morning she was born, mother and daughter were taken by ambulance to the present hospital between 8am and 9am.

Claire Lupton, coordinator of the Capturing the Memories project said Ms Roberts was quite correct in the claim that patients and equipment were moved in July 1956, but the Bega District Hospital was not “officially” opened until 1957.

However, Ms Lupton has discovered a story about the very last patient in the Old Bega Hospital - and one who wasn't moved.

This story was one of a number of stories gleaned when Ms Lupton interviewed Betty Koellner of Tathra.

On that day, Betty's great-aunt Minnie Larkins was dying and Betty and her grandmother were keeping the death watch.

As she was so close to death it had been decided by the hospital authorities to leave Minnie in peace while the move was on.

Every four hours Betty had to go back to Tathra to feed her six-week-old son, and said she found it so difficult actually getting out of the hospital grounds with ambulances, trucks, utes and cars all making the trip to the new hospital, taking all the equipment, furniture and  patients - except for the dying great-aunt.

For the evening shift, Betty's grandmother had to go home, so Betty was left in a deserted hospital with the dying woman, when everyone and everything else had gone.

When the death rattles sounded about 8.45pm, Betty phoned the new hospital to ask a sister to come back, which one did.

Minnie died and Betty was finally able to leave the hospital.

Ms Lupton has been told some wonderful stories about life in the hospital by patients, but particularly from four of the nursing staff, and she knows there are a lot more stories out there.

Anyone who has one can email her on clairelupton@bigpond.com or ring 6492 2570.