End of era as Swan District Hospital shuts doors

Debbie Howard(worked at hospital for 14 years, Patient Support Assistant), Joan Rowcliffe (worked at hospital for 30 years, Registered Nurse), Coral Williams, worked at hospital for 12 years, Clinical Nurse Specialist), Wieska Buzynski (worked at hospital for 33 years, Registered Nurse) and Anne Douglas (worked at hospital for 32 years, Clinical Nurse). Picture: Marie Nirme d445336
End of era as Swan District Hospital shuts doors
End of era as Swan District Hospital shuts doors
End of era as Swan District Hospital shuts doors
End of era as Swan District Hospital shuts doors
End of era as Swan District Hospital shuts doors
End of era as Swan District Hospital shuts doors
End of era as Swan District Hospital shuts doors
Debbie Howard(worked at hospital for 14 years, Patient Support Assistant), Joan Rowcliffe (worked at hospital for 30 years, Registered Nurse), Coral Williams, worked at hospital for 12 years, Clinical Nurse Specialist), Wieska Buzynski (worked at hospital for 33 years, Registered Nurse) and Anne Douglas (worked at hospital for 32 years, Clinical Nurse). Picture: Marie Nirme d445336

IT is the end of an era for one of the area’s most famous institutions – the Swan District Hospital.

The 61-year-old hospital shuts on November 24, when it will be officially replaced by the new Midland Public Hospital at Centennial Place.

Swan District Hospital expanded from a 25-bed maternity hospital in 1954 to a 193-bed general hospital with outpatient services.

Its official opening as a small public maternity hospital in 1954 was preceded by decades of lobbying for better health care in the Swan region.

In the 19th century, a casualty ward in West Midland (now Woodbridge) functioned as the primary health service to treat those too poor to afford a private doctor in the Swan area.

Poor funding marred the ward and it fell into disrepair, eventually closing in 1910.

From then on, all patients had to travel to Perth for treatment or pay at one of Midland’s private hospitals.

Pressure from Swan residents and the Midland Junction Roads Board mounted on the State Government to help fund a local hospital.

It was only when Guildford’s private Seaton Ross Maternity Hospital closed in 1945 that the tide turned in favour of a newer and larger hospital campus for the Swan area.

By 1949, the site south of Eveline Road was confirmed for the new maternity hospital. Five years later, on September 22, 1954, it officially opened.

Almost 10 years after the initial opening, in October, 1963, a new 40-bed wing with operating rooms, lab services and X-ray suite opened.

By this point, Swan District Hospital had become very popular and the local population in its catchment had grown substantially.

In August, 1971, another outwards extension was completed, including a 40-bed wing with a new X-ray suite, nursing aide training school and 10 more beds for the nurses’ quarters.

Around the time the upgrade was finished, builders found the unstable clay beneath the existing hospital could not support the original plan to create a multi-storey complex – outwards was the only way to expand.

The State Government’s Reid Report in 2004 recommended a new hospital be built for the Swan area.

Later this month staff from both hospitals will perform WA’s biggest-ever patient transfer and the new Midland Public Hospital will take over.

Many of the staff from Swan District Hospital will work at the new hospital, while others will be dispersed through the metropolitan health network.

The future of the Swan District Hospital site is still unknown but planning will start in March when the Department of Health hands the site over to the Department of Lands.