Isolation Hospital opens in East Ham in 1904. The following report is taken from the local newspaper.
"OUR COUNCIL'S UNDERTAKINGS (EAST HAM) -
THE ISOLATION HOSPITAL
It goes without saying that the Public Health Committee has within its scope the most vital questions affecting the well-being of the district, and, included in these, is the adequate provision of hospital accommodation for infectious diseases.
The story of the successive steps which led to the erection of the Isolation Hospital on its present site, a hospital specially equipped for dealing with diphtheria, typhoid, and scarlet fever cases is a story of the gradual recognition of the necessity for providing for the protection of the inhabitants of a rapidly growing district against the ravages of those ailments which chiefly attack the young.
Dr. Beaumont, who was appointed Medical Officer of Health in 1889, early had his attention directed to this subject, and in his report for 1892 advocated the desirability of securing a site for the erection of a hospital.
In the following year (1893) a temporary Isolation Hospital of corrugated iron for small-pox patients was built at Bonnydowns, with provision for 25 cases, but in the same year it being found that there were but few smallpox patients, the building was utilised for scarlet fever cases. After the present site was acquired the building was removed to it, and is now used solely for scarlet fever patients, but on its removal it was enlarged so that now there is accommodation in it for 32 patients.
By an arrangement with the West Ham Corporation in 1897, diphtheria patients were received into the West Ham Hospital, but the arrangement did not work satisfactorily. The committee, therefore, in 1899, rented the building and premises known as the "Clock House," and adapted it for the reception of patients, and was opened for that purpose in January, 1900.
In 1899 Rancliffe House being then the property of the Council, was utilised a Convalescent Home for Scarlet Fever patients, but in the following year was turned into a Typhoid Fever Hospital temporarily.
In the meantime whilst these temporary expedients were adopted, the conviction was growing that it was absolutely necessary to acquire a site of sufficient extent to meet the requirements of the district and in 1900 such a site was secured.
An estate lying between Roman and Boundary Roads was purchased at a cost of £10,000, and to this site, as stated above, the Scarlet Fever Hospital was removed. After the site had been acquired pressure was put upon the Council by the Essex County Council to erect a large permanent hospital, at an estimated cost of £48,000 and on application by the Council for loan of that amount the Local Government Board appointed Mr A. Royle, C B., to hold an enquiry at East Ham in February, 1902.
There was something quite Gilbertian about the proceedings. The inspector came apparently under the impression that the ratepayers were anxious to have this white elephant thrust upon them. He was soon undeceived, however. With the exception of Dr. Thresh, the county medical officer, there was not one person present in favour of it, from the Clerk, who had to present the scheme, the East Ham Medical Officer, the Chairman of the committee, down to non-official ratepayers, and when the Inspector after hearing the various objectors put the question to the vote, every person present voted against it, and the result was the abandonment of the proposal.
The authorities were, however, quite alive to the requirements of the district in respect of the provision of a properly equipped hospital, but they took a more modest and economical view of the matter. Instead of an expenditure of £48,000 upon the site already acquired, they advised the provision of a new hospital which would accommodate all typhoid and diphtheria cases for 10 or 15 years. The advice was acted upon and the present hospital, a corrugated iron building, was erected, and formally opened on December 8, 1902, by Councillor Carte, then Chairman of the Public Health Committee.
The total cost of the building was £3,400 - £1,500 was expended in making approaches and entrances, and sewering, etc., from both Roman and Boundary Roads. The cost of the scarlet fover block, £450. The purchase of Rancliffe House £650, or a total of £6,000. Add to this the £10,000 given for the site, a site, it must be borne in mind, of 17½ acres, large enough when necessity requires and finances permit to build a permanent hospital capable of meeting all the requirements of a constantly growing population, and we have a total expenditure of £16,000 for Typhoid and Diphtheria Hospital, Scarlet Fever Block, and Rancliffe Convalescent Home.
Through the courtesy of Mr Banks, Chief Sanitary Inspector, and under the guidance of Mr. F. Kendall, chief clerk, Public Health Department, I have had the opportunity of inspecting the hospital, and conducted by the Matron, Miss Wilson, of seeing something of its arrangements and working.
The building consists of two ward blocks, forming respectively the right and left wings of the building, with the administrative department in the centre, covered corridors leading to the two wings.
Each ward block consists of two separate wards, about 40ft by 24ft., with accommodation in each ward for 10 beds, 40 in all. The two wards are controlled from a nurse's duty room in the centre of the block, with inspection windows to each ward. The wards are thoroughly well lighted and ventilated. Annexed to each ward is a sanitary wing containing bathroom, lavatory, sink, etc.
The administrative block is a two-storeyed building, with single storey annex for kitchen and scullery, which, by-the-bye, is now being enlarged. There is accommodation in it for a staff of from 18 to 20, with bedrooms well arranged for quietude; and at the same time airy and thoroughly well lighted. There are the Matron's rooms, and sitting and dining-rooms for the nurses, a room for the visiting doctor, a small dispensary, and other usual and necessary appointments, including fire appliances, hose, etc., ready for an emergency.
The grounds, amid somewhat bleak, surroundings, have been tastefully laid out, and present a contrast to the long stretch of fields and cabbage gardens lying outside the boundary.
Miss Wilson, the matron, acting as guide, courteously conducted me through the various wards and offices. Needless to say, cleanliness, neatness, and orderliness are the characteristics of every department. The unfortunate sufferers are fortunate in being in such surroundings with every comfort and every attention. Though the patients are in bed, and though some of them are passing through perhaps a critical stage of the disease, they all look bright and happy and cheerful.
The bright look which comes into the eyes and beams on the features as the Matron passes each little sufferer is a pleasure to witness, and should satisfy the most anxious parents that their children are in good keeping. I could not help feeling as I passed from one to the other that even in the Hospital they are probably experiencing a happiness end enjoying comforts to which they will look back longingly for the rest of their lives.
The staff at the Hospital consists of the Matron (Miss Wilson),12 nurses, and 5 female servants, a day porter and a member of the Fire Brigade at night, whilst there are in the Fever Hospital, 7 nurses and 4 servants.
Rancliffe House is now used as a convalescent home for scarlet fever patients, Miss Bartlett being the nurse in charge, with a staff of 4 nurses and 4 servants.
The House is suitably equipped for the purpose, every room being utilised, there being 4 bedrooms, containing 30 beds - head nurse's sitting and bedroom - nurse's sitting rooms, bedrooms, servants rooms, etc., large dining-room for the little patients, play room, and a large garden, where there were on my visit 18 children, with two nurse attendants taking an airing and enjoying themselves in the grounds.
The "Clock House" is now used as a laundry for the hospitals, and there are 8 laundry women at work there.
Adjoining it are the coach-houses and stables, where the ambulances are kept, the Coachman and stable boy being, one or the other of them, always on the premises to be ready for any eventuality.
The Town Hall, the medical officer's surgery and the hospitals are all connected by telephone, and prompt attention to all urgent cases is thus secured.
The rate payers have every reason to be satisfied with this undertaking of the Council, which is efficiently equipped, well up-to-date and well managed throughout.
(Originally published as Local Study Note No 53 by Newham library service)