History of Port Shepstone Hospital
Port Shepstone provincial hospital is situated on the magnificent "Hibiscus Coast" approximately 100 kilometers south of Durban. The first hospital as such in Port Shepstone, was a sanatorium, built by the Catholic Church with the help of the Chamber of Commerce and a grant of a 100 pounds from the Government.
Whilst visiting the village of Port Shepstone in 1901, Father Gourlay learned that the Chamber of Commerce was keen to open a cottage hospital. Father Gourlay knew that because of a lack of pupils at Umzinto, the sisters of "Filles De J'esus De Kermania (brought out from France to start a school for coloured children of Umzimto) were unable to support themselves and he decided to utilise the expertise of these sisters, as they had been given nursing training in Brittany, France.
The Durban architect, Street Wilson, architect of the Emmanuel Cathedral in Durban, drew the plans for both the hospital and the church and the bricks were delivered on March 25,1903. As the buildings neared completion, the Chamber of Commerce recorded "with pleasure that the sanatorium is now being built and there is every reason to expect the grant will be allowed.
The Sanatorium was completed in January 1904. By this time, the sisters numbered 13, six of whom were ready and waiting at Port Shepstone to receive the first patients in March 1904. Father Gourlay moved to Port Shepstone permanently to help them.
Due to a lack of funds, the sisters were unable to continue their work in Port Shepstone much longer than 1908 and the sisters returned to Umzinto. In the meantime, on the 8th February 1909, Bishop Delalle purchased the Aiken Street lots for a nominal figure of 55 pounds although they were valued at 30 pounds each with the three buildings - the sanatorium, convent and chapel, for 125 pounds and 200 pounds respectively. He decided to close the Sanatorium since it was not being adequately supported. This was partly because of the small population of the town and partly because of the economic depression which devastated all of South Africa between 1905 and 1909.
It is interesting to note that there is a brass plaque in the foyer of the present hospital commemorating Dr. George Cawley, first medical officer (born 13/1/1872 died 7/12/1933)
After the closure of the sanatorium, not much is known of a hospital in Port Shepstone except that at one time a hospital was situated behind the present gaol and was them rebuilt on the present site and opened in 1934 as a cottage hospital. Part of the original building today housed the old out patients department, the present physiotherapy and pharmacy departments, together with a portion of the operating theatre complex.
The original cottage hospital was built in 1934, and officially opened during 1935 by Mr. Gordon Watson (administrator of Natal)
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