In June 1907, the Maitland Daily Mercury reported on the opening of a new hospital with “the latest and most modern conveniences”.
That hospital – Singleton District Hospital – continues to provide quality care, with help from the community it serves.
From the beginning, locals have worked hard to ensure our hospital remains at the heart of the community.
The gift of a new hospital
Singleton Hospital was the first permanent hospital in the Upper Hunter. It’s opening in 1907 solved the problem of inadequate medical services in the district.
But it went by a different name back then – Dangar Cottage Hospital, in honour of Albert Augustus Dangar. A wealthy local pastoralist, Dangar donated £8333 10s 5d, the total sum needed to build the hospital.
Clearly community-minded, Dangar also donated funds towards the rebuilding of All Saints Anglican Church in Bishopsgate St.
The Bowman family connection
Just over ten years after the hospital opened, the Spanish flu made its way to Singleton.
The hospital swung into action, setting up a dedicated ward to treat patients for what was then known as pneumonic influenza. But with only eight beds, the ward was soon straining at the seams as illness overtook the town.
Dr Alister Bowman, the town’s government medical officer, convinced the health department to declare Singleton an “infected town”, setting the path to eventual recovery. Bowman also helped establish Fairholme Maternity Hospital and would go on to serve the area’s medical needs for 50 years.
Today, Dr Bowman’s descendants are still concerned with community wellbeing. Singleton Hospital’s maternity wing, which opened in 1956 and took over from Fairholme, is set to receive a much-needed expansion. And the funds for the work come from a very generous donation – by the Bowman family.
With their gift, brother and sister Elizabeth and Alistair Bowman proudly continue the legacy of care begun by their grandfather, Alister. It’s another example of the community giving back to the hospital.
The hospital auxiliary
Locals have given their time and energy to the hospital for many years, and none more so than members of Singleton Hospital Auxiliary.
The auxiliary began in 1932 with early volunteers attending to simple tasks like mending sheets, rolling bandages and making tea.
One woman who joined in the 1970s was Florence Drinan. Flo, as she was affectionately known, worked with the auxiliary for well over two decades. When she passed away aged 103, Flo’s family requested donations to the auxiliary in lieu of flowers, to reflect her dedication to the organisation.
Vera Smith was another long-serving member and past auxiliary president. A magnolia tree, planted in the hospital grounds when Vera died in 2018, marks her 50 years of service.
The auxiliary continues to raise thousands of dollars every year through raffles, fetes and dinners.
Looking to the future
The 21st century has brought more change to the hospital. In February 2018 the hospital unveiled a $7 million redevelopment and expansion, including the new West Wing.
Fundraising continues, and we were proud to be a donor for the new Memorial Sensory Garden last year, and regular donors to the Singleton Cancer Appeal.
And as at the hospital’s beginnings, we’re now in the middle of another pandemic. The face masks, social distancing and interrupted life would look familiar to those who, like Dr Bowman, worked at the hospital all those years ago.
What would not look familiar is the drive-through COVID-19 testing, the nasal swabs, ventilators and other high-tech equipment the hospital now uses.
But the community’s attachment to the hospital, the dedication and commitment by locals, looks the same as it always has.
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