Medical Service

Early medical history in the Elk Point area

In the early years of settlement, midwives cared for the mothers during child births. They also treated many of the minor illnesses throughout the district. Almost every district had a good midwife or two who could be depended on to help during an illness. Anything of a more serious nature had to be at­tended to by doctors in Vermilion or nearby St. Paul de Metis, as it was known in the early years. Some of the more prominent midwives in the Elk Point area were Mrs. Fran­ces "Ma" Caskey, Mrs. Alex Borow­ski, Mrs. Jim Hitchcock and Mrs. Tom Aarbo.

The first doctor to establish a practice in Elk Point was Dr. F. G. Miller. He arrived in our hamlet in 1920. He had his office in his home and he performed operations there as well as housing his patients dur­ing their stay. He also performed many operations in the homes of his patients, sometimes on their kit­chen tables. In 1922 Dr. F. G. Miller was joined by Dr. A. G.. Ross, and together they formed a long lasting partnership.

In 1923 they moved into a build­ing just east of where our United Church now stands. Here they es­tablished Elk Point's first hospital. This hospital consisted of their of­fice, a small operating room as well as an examining room. It also had two small rooms downstairs which served as wards as well as a small room which housed their X-ray equipment. A stairway led to the second floor which contained two additional wards. An outside build­ing away from the hospital was used as a power house which supplied electricity for their x-ray machine as well as their lighting. There was always a shortage of space in this hospital and during the summer they set up a tent which contained a number of additional beds. In the winter, some of the patient over­flow ended up in Dr. F. G. Miller's home.

The nursing staff consisted of two registered nurses as well as an undergrad. The doctor's wife, Cora, with the help of two additional ladies, made up the housekeeping staff. Mrs. Miller was also the an­aesthetist and was helpful in per­forming other duties pertaining to the operation of this hospital.  Some of the early nurses that worked in this early hospital were Miss Haugen, Miss Ema Hanna, Mrs. Smithson, Miss Fouracre and Miss Freeman. The admission fee at that time was one dollar a day with an additional fifty cents per patient provided by the Government of Al­berta. This hospital served our area until a new one was built in 1928 in the general area of our present day hospital. This new hospital served people as far south as Derwent, east to the Saskatchewan border, mid­way to St. Paul and a vast area to the north. The ratepayers of the municipality paid a certain portion of their taxes to help operate this hospital, plus a daily fee was char­ged, and the government provided the additional funds needed. This new hospital was about an eighteen room unit and at times it, too, was overcrowded. It was, however, a great improvement over the old hospital they left behind. Some of the first nurses who worked in this new hospital were Miss Reed, Miss Little, Miss Elsa Berg, Miss Hanna and Miss Foura­cre. The first matron of this hospital was Mrs. Signe Holter, the first jan­itor was Del Beebe and one of the first cooks was Ida Waltz who later became the wife of Martin Aarbo.  The first hospital board was made up of 0. J. Fish, Joe Cousins, Her­man Sand, Casper Zarowny, George Shortridge and Alex Peterson. One of the first secretaries was W. F. "Billy" Wolfe. The hospital was steam heated and water was supplied from wells located near the hospital. The se­wage was hauled away in a steel tank. Massive piles of cord wood were piled behind the hospital. They were needed as fuel for a large boiler housed in the hospital.

Both Dr. F. G. Miller and Dr. A. G. Ross were the main doctors of this institution for many years. They were both known far and wide and were both highly respected by their patients as well as all the residents within our district.