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Centennial tea honours 100 years of community support for County’s hospital

The County’s original nine-bed hospital, on Hill Street in Picton, opened on April 17, 1919. It was later the Picton Manor Nursing Home and is currently vacant. – Photo from the book This House of Healing, by Alan R. Capon

While much has changed over the past 100 years in Prince Edward County, one thing that remains constant is the community’s support for its hospital.

Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital staff, physicians, volunteers, board members and local politicians met Wednesday to mark the centennial of the opening of the County’s original nine-bed hospital, on Hill Street in Picton, on April 17, 1919.

“This hospital was established because the citizens of the community saw a need and they established the hospital on Hill Street – small, modest, but critically important,” said Stuart Wright, chairman of the Quinte Health Care board. “And the same thing happened 40 years later when this facility was built… and on the horizon is a facility that will serve the citizens going forward – a continuation of what we’ve lived through over the past 100 years.”

Dr. Norma Charriere is asking current physicians to sign her copy of This House of Healing, which she refers to as the hospital’s yearbook.

“It’s inspiring to think about the history surrounding the establishment of this hospital,” said Norma Charriere, Prince Edward County Family Health Team doctor. She was clutching Alan R. Capon’s book ‘This House of Healing PECMH’, referring to it as the hospital’s yearbook, and shared some of its highlights at the gathering.

“One of the pivotal moments came on June 8, 1908 when the Sir Thomas Picton Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire put forth the motion to contribute all entertainment money to establish a County hospital. The sum of $10,429.93 was eventually raised for that purpose.”

Numerous other community citizens and community organizations and businesses in Prince Edward County contributed.

Together with four legacies bequeathed by Miss Nettie Walt, Mrs. Skinner Brown, Mr. W.P. Niles and Mrs. Jemima West, the Hill Street home of George Alcorn was purchased for $3,000.

Dr. Charriere was particularly interested in accounts of attracting health practitioners in a rural farming community and the establishment of the School of Nursing.

“Those would have been exciting times,” she said. “What started out as a nine-bed hospital in 1919 quickly expanded as the demand for services grew. Several additions were built on the first hospital as it was thriving in its early years. The general practitioners were doing just about everything from general practice, obstetrics, anesthesia and general surgeries… exemplary nurses were graduating. In the early years they fought cholera, influenza, diphtheria and polio epidemics.”

Today, at the current hospital which opened in 1959, she reflected that treatments now focus on diabetes, heart problems and cancers and as citizens grow older with more chronic diseases, services shift to meet those healthcare needs.

She also praised women who have long been the backbone in health care and the formation of both hospitals.

“The hospital would not have been possible without the support of the various local women’s institutes and the women’s health auxiliary at the time. And just as it remains today, the support of the community and its residents, was strong. A community hospital was needed and everyone had a role to play – big or small.”

Accolades to the dedication of the hospital’s auxiliary, staff, volunteers, board members, community supporters also came from Neil Ellis, Bay of Quinte MP, David Joyce, director of riding affairs for MPP Todd Smith, and County mayor Steve Ferguson.

Former mayor and hospital foundation chair Leo Finnegan speaks to the Centennial Tea crowd about excellent care he has received as a patient.

Former County mayor, and past hospital foundation president Leo Finnegan spoke to excellent care he had received numerous times as a patient at the hospital.

“Everyone knows somebody here in this hospital and when you come as a patient you’re treated like family. It’s the County way,” he said. “If you’re sick, this is the place to be.”

Brad Harrington, QHC vice-president, said fine care will continue as the community and government continue their support for the new hospital, expected to be built in 2025.

“The best way we can honour the past is to look to the future,” he said, connecting the drive 100 years ago, to the work today to build a new hospital. “A project of this magnitude requires a long-term commitment, strong partnerships, and an engaged community willing to go the distance… and working collaboratively with one voice to achieve this objective.”

Art Hewer, the hospital auxiliary’s vice-president, and soon to be the first male president, looks over some of the hospital’s interesting history on display at the Centennial Tea near the photographs of presidents of the board of directors for Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital prior to amalgamation with QHC.

Hospital Auxiliary president Patricia Evans and board members Peggy Payne and Kim Woodhouse, look over hospital memorabilia on display at the Centennial Tea.

The hospital’s foundation, through the support of the community, has raised nearly $11 million of is $16.5 million target through the Back the Build campaign. Shannon Coull, executive director, and Briar Boyce, communications co-ordinator, greeted guests attending the tea and showed them designs of what is to come. Here they point to designs with Sherry Tait, volunteer.


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