Harding is situated in the Southern KwaZulu-Natal close to the Eastern Cape border. It is on the main N2 South route between Port Shepstone and Kokstad. The town, which was established in 1877 as a military outpost, was named after Sir Walter Harding – the first Chief Justice of Natal. The Roman Catholic Church purchased a plot of poor grassland, between 1915 – 1920, in Harding for 40 Sterling Pounds. This site was used to build St Andrews Mission School. The population of Harding had steadily increased by 1940, and there become an urgent need for a hospital. The Roman Catholic Church converted a house owned by Mr. Nimack in Moodie Street, near the mission, into the first hospital. Sr. Clare from the Mission School arranged sales and bazaars to raise funds.
Two nuns Sr. Solana and Sr. Edeltrudis were recruited during 1944 from the order of the St. Solanus in Germany. They converted the house into a 12-bed hospital. Sr. Edeltrudis was the first matron and Sr Solana the cook, seam-stress and Jack-of-all-trades. St Andrews Mission Hospital was opened on 31 May 1944. More facilities were required. So more nuns were recruited from Germany. One of the nuns qualified as a sister tutor and was able to start a small training school for nurses at the hospital.
D G Shepstone officially opened our larger hospital with more facilities in October 1956. Dr R E Stevenson, director at Provincial Medical and Health Services, laid the foundation stone on 29th August 1954. The hospital was built slowly at a 40, 000 Sterling Pounds and stands as a monument to the patience and devotion of Father Andrews who inspired it and Brother Alex who built it mainly with un-skilled labour. In 1951 an X-ray department was established on land owned by the M.O.T.H.S and administered by the Harding District War Memorial Trust. In 1968, the M.O.T.H.S made up the shortfall in the cost of an X-ray plant, which was the finest in country district hospitals.
The nurse’s home was built in 1962. In 1970 the original hospital was demolished and replaced with a double-storey building containing wards and storerooms, called ‘Ekuphumeleni’- meaning resting place. The storerooms were eventually converted to the outpatient department. By 1984 the nuns who had staffed and run the 250-bed hospital were growing old and offered the hospital to the N.P.A (Natal Provincial Administration). The N.P.A took over officially on the 01 October 1984. A new Security Office was built after changing the entrance to the hospital. A new house was completed late in 1990 for the Medical Superintendent. The Hospital Board erected a sheltered waiting area in 1991 for visitors at the main gate. A new 3-storey Nurses home was completed in 1993, with 3 flats, 10 bed-sitters and 80 single rooms. Today our humble hospital stands proudly as a symbol of hard work and dedication to the community of Harding.
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