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History of St Margaret's hospital

In 1871, Dr. Callaway, the Priest in charge of Springvale Mission (later the first Bishop of St. John’s Diocese) in Ixopo, Natal, bought the Clydesdale farm from Mr. Donald Strachan, the founder and pioneer of Umzimkulu Village. The purpose of acquiring the farm was to settle Christian families, both Coloured and African, who would serve as a centre for Evangelisation of the heathen.

In January 1937, Rev. C.C. Stewart, the Priest in charge of Clydesdale Mission, built a small 19-bed hospital on the Mission which he named St. Margaret’s Hospital and dedicated it to Saint Margaret of Scotland. The Honourable J.H. Hofmeyer, Minister of Health, came to the opening ceremony. The cost of the building together with the bare minimum of equipment was nearly R4000.

St. Margaret’s Hospital started off with 19 beds and 5 cots. The services of a European Matron were obtained; she was assisted by an African nurse. Dr. Norval Watt from Ixopo promised to visit the hospital once a week. Dr. Goronovski, the newly appointed District Surgeon, agreed to be the Honorary Medical Officer of the hospital. As he was living in the adjacent village of Umzimkulu, he was able to relieve Dr. Norval Watt at times. In 1941, a Board of Management with representatives of the Cape Provincial Health Department was established. This made it possible to receive grants in aid for both capital and maintenance expenses.

In 1951, Dr. Marshall was appointed as Resident Medical Officer. She was very eager to improve the condition of the Hospital; she therefore put the whole of her salary towards a building fund. Eventually, a New Block was built, with a Theatre, Maternity / Labour room, and sterilizing room. There was also a new kitchen, pantry and store rooms, and a dark room for developing X-ray plates.

Slowly, the Hospital grew. Referrals were sent to Rietvlei and Edendale Hospital. The TB ward initially had only 9 beds. Deliveries in Maternity increased. In 1957, the hospital engaged in its first water scheme for purified water. In 1958, a generator was installed which lit the hospital and pumped water. An Xray was also installed, which made the hospital reasonably equipped. In 1982, the hospital had its refrigeration for the mortuary with three shelves and two mortuary attendants.

In 1975, the Hospital was eventually proposed to be taken over by the State. Later on, St. Margaret’s Hospital has been functioning as a District Hospital in the Eastern Cape. The Hospital is now under the administration of KZN since April 2007, and has now been assigned as a TB / MDR TB hospital for the Sisonke Health District.

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