THE Bega Hospital was in disarray during the influenza epidemic of 1919 when the matron and nurses refused to look after flu patients. They were nursed in temporary hospitals set up around the town.
The Board of Health suspended all the staff and the committee hired replacements. The hospital committee's meeting in July had to be held outside on the grounds because of the flu and the Bega Budget was there to report it.
"The house committee said that the change of staff was the most important thing that had happened that month, which should have come at no surprise to anyone. Evidently Matron Mooney arrived on June 23 and took charge and the retiring staff left the same afternoon. The new staff found things in an untidy and chaotic state.
"Although we had been assured by the retiring matron that supplies were all ready for the new staff (and we made a special point of provisions), such was not the case. There was practically nothing in the way of provisions except a piece of hard corned meat. Not even kerosene for the night nurse's lamp.
The theatre was in the same state. The services of Mrs Bolton were secured, who scrubbed out and cleaned up generally. The dark cook decamped and the laundress took her place for a couple of days. Miss O Underhill volunteered her services as a cook, and she entered upon her duties that same night, foregoing a fortnight's holiday to oblige the committee."
Everyone was pleased with Miss Underhill's work, but not that of the laundress who refused to do certain washing and was given a week's notice. Mrs Bolton was employed to wash by the day. There was a problem with surgical scissors as there was an account for some but none were to be found. It was resolved to inform the authorities, in reply to a letter on the subject, that the hospital would make no claim for any expenses incurred in connection with the outbreak of influenza, as the work had been taken over by emergency hospitals. Also in that same month it was reported that "there had been a general clean up at the hospital and everything is now in splendid order. May it long remain so, for the committee and the unfortunate inmates don't want a repetition of the experiences of the last few months".
There were still reverberations in early 1920 from the nursing staff a year earlier refusing to nurse influenza patients before any case in the town had actually been diagnosed. Staff were coming expecting to be able to have professional training there but leaving as soon as they realised that the Board of Health had withdrawn the classification of the institution as a training hospital.