History of Montebello Hospital

From humble beginnings to a health facility of excellence – that is the story of Montebello Hospital. Montebello Mission Hospital was originally known as Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy). However, the name was later changed to Montebello (German name meaning “beautiful mountain”). The hospital was established as a ministry of the Dominican Congregation of Montebello to uplift the standard of living and improve the health status of the local community of Montebello Mission and the surrounding areas. In 1925, Mother Euphemia from Oxford, England who was a teacher by profession arrived with three African women who were to be trained as religious sisters at Montebello. The poverty and suffering of the local people was noticed during home visits and it was decided that a hospital should be built and that nuns should be trained as nurses. The dream of those early missionaries bore fruit in the 1950 when permission for erecting the new hospital was sought and granted by the Natal Provincial Administration (NPA). The funds for building the hospital were largely received from the German benefactors and NPA government. A plan to build the hospital was then put in motion.

In 1953, permission to erect a bigger hospital was obtained from government authorities. The first patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB) were admitted in 1954. In 1955, two residential units that were designated as Doctors’ Quarters were built. In the same year, a 102-bed new hospital was commissioned. In 1956, the hospital employed its first nursing lecturer, Sr. E.S. Zikalala. Sr. Dolorosa Thusi was the first Matron of this hospital. Two years later, the first resident medical doctor, Dr Seidel (a German national) was employed to work in this hospital. More religious sisters were sent for nurse training at different nursing in Province of Natal. The foundation stones for the Administration Block, Ward Block and Nursing Home were laid by Archbishop Denis Hurley, Catholic Archbishop of Durban in 1959, 1961 and 1966 respectively. In 1965, the new nursing school opened its doors for training. In the same year, the hospital kitchen was built. In 1969, the 45-bed Maternity Unit with a High-tech Labour Ward was erected. At that stage the hospital provided the following package of services, namely medical, surgical, TB, obstetrics and gynaecology, and paediatrics.

The hospital was known for its caring ethos through the length and breadth of Natal Province. It continued to function as a State-aided Mission Hospital run by the Catholic Church until 01 April 1981 when it was taken over by the NPA. At the dawn of the democratic dispensation in 1994, the hospital became part of the newly amalgamated KZN Department of Health. The past few years of this hospital were fraught with difficulty with poor performance efficiency indicators.

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This page last edited on 26 November, 2019

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