Times Gone By – Coffs 1919 Flu Pandemic: High-speed Hospital (Part 3)

THE doctor and Mr Leonard, the shire engineer, remained at the house with the patient, his sister Violet, and his mother who had travelled from their family home at Orara to help Violet nurse him.

After the doctor and shire engineer.arranged what supplies they could get at that late hour, they left around midnight.

The following morning saw no replacement for the police constable who had guarded the Pier hotel all night.
Consequently, the hotel’s proprietor guaranteed Mr Leonard he would not allow anyone in the hotel to leave for four days, during which all indoor public meetings and entertainment were also prohibited.

On Monday, Mr Leonard and Councillor Faulks arranged a temporary isolation hospital, in case the flu spread.

They inspected the showground pavilion and it was decided to use it as the temporary hospital, so the following day, after consultation with the Shire President, carpenters were sent to dismantle the interior fittings and prepare a kitchen.

With the help of Dr Smithson, Mr Perry and his staff, Mr Vost, Councillor Faulks and the Coffs Harbour Fire Brigade, equipment was ordered and sent to the site straight away while the building was cleaned and disinfected.

A stove was installed in the kitchen, also a tent erected as sleeping quarters for the cook, so by 9 pm that night the hospital had beds and equipment for five patients.

A watchman was arranged to take charge, who would also work as an orderly and the local schoolmaster was instructed to close the school.

Over the following week, Mr Johnson of the Fitzroy Hotel offered to supply three more beds at a moment’s notice, while a cow was also offered to supply milk.

Mr Leonard advertised for a volunteer ‘on call’ cook and nurses.

At Councillor Hindmarsh’s suggestion, the Council’s old Shire car was cleaned and repaired, ready for use in case it was needed and an application was made by Mr Leonard for a telephone to be installed in the pavilion.


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