Historical Background of the Elk Point Hospital 1971

By Grace Barwick (this paper was done as a course assignment by Grace on July 31,1971 and kindly shared for this book by her Daughter, Karen)

The original Elk Point Hospital dates back to two years after the end of World War I. A young medical student, Dr. F.G. Miller, whose studies had been interrupted by the war, returned to Canada from the battle fields of France. He completed his medical training at McGill University and came west to seek a place to set up his medical practice. He practised in central Alberta with a senior doctor for a year.

Then he decided he should move on and go north. The place he chose to settle was in Elk Point. At hat time, this was little more than a crossroads between two Indian Reservations and settled by a few white people who had come to claim good farm lands being offered free to those courageous enough to live and clear and cultivate the land. They came from Great Britain, the United States, and Eastern Canada. The Ukrainian immigrants also were leaving their troubled homeland in search of a new start in a free country. The post-war influenza epidemic was striking young and old in those years so the young doctor was a busy man.

He set up his own private hospital which was part of the large old house he obtained for his own family. Two rooms were used as the hospital with four beds. It was staffed by one nurse, one housekeeper, the doctor and his wife. Only the most urgent cases were treated in the hospital. Babies were born at home and often surgery was performed on the kitchen table of the farm home when deep snow would not permit a patient being taken to the hospital. The doctor spent many nights on the road travelling to his patients because he had a good team of horses for winter and a car for summer. His patients could not boast such luxuries.

These circumstances prevailed until the Canadian National Railroad came through this area and Elk Point became a village and a municipal hospital was built in 1928. The first municipal hospital had twelve beds, a full time staff of nurses and a housekeeping staff. The doctor now had a partner and a clinic was set up in the village. More additions have been added to this first municipal hospital, one in 1942 and again in 1952. until it is now a fifty one bed active hospital with many modern conveniences for surgical, medical, and obstetrical patients. We have a staff of seventy-five. Three doctors and a dental surgeon have admitting privileges from the clinic down town. The Board of Governors of the Elk Point Hospital form the hospital policy and delegate management to the Administrator, who in turn, delegates to each department head their responsibilities. The Joint Conference Committee serves as a liaison between the medical staff, the Board of Governors, and the Administrator. The Medical Record Department is rarely called upon to assist in any way with this committee unless it is for various disease studies that can be compiled from medical records.

The Medical Record Department is called upon frequently to do a study for one of the doctors. We do a study once a year on post-operative infections. We have made graphs from our statistics showing variation in birth rate for the last ten years. We have done a comparison chart on the ratio of tuberculosis cases among the Indian people compared to the white people. Similar studies have been done on venereal disease. Tuberculosis is not treated in this hospital but a routine Mantoux test is done on all patients except infants. Chest x-rays are done on all adults. Tuberculosis patients are sent to a special sanitarium in a near-by city.

The Medical Record Department here is not quite in an ideal location. It possibly would be more convenient if it were adjoining the main office at the front of the hospital. But the provisions were not made for this at the time of the latest renovation of the building. We have an office consisting of two rooms situate away from the main part of the building. It is quiet and has a desk that doctors can use for their paper work and also a dictating machine for putting their case summaries

on tape for us to type on the summary sheets of patients charts. As the charts come to us from the nurses’ station, they are checked and stapled together. They are placed in the respective doctor’s compartment for him to work on at his convenience. There are two of us working in the department, one full time registered Medical Record Librarian and one part time assistant. That is me. I spend most of my time working in the admitting office as well. Our filing system is not complicated. We have a master file which contains a cardex for every patient. Each new patient receives a card with his name, address, birthdate, and name of next of kin. When he is discharged, his card is typed with the date of admission, date of discharge, and name of doctor attending him. His number is transferred to his chart and when his chart is complete, it is filed in the file room where he is given a pack that is filed by number in the terminal digit system. Each time this patient returns to the hospital as either an inpatient or outpatient, it is entered on his card and his chart numbered with the same number and filed in his same pack. A death file is kept and twice a year death charts are pulled and placed in the obsolete file downstairs. They arc filed there by the same system.

Our hospital is participating in the program of Professional Activities Study and, therefore, an abstract is completed for every patient and these are sent in batches of 100 to Ann Arbor, Michigan to be computerized. From this we get a complete monthly statement which includes a disease index, operations index as well as a complete index for each doctor and for the business office. Semi-annual reports of more concise information are included in this P.A.S. program. Our chief duties are to carry out all the above procedures and keep the work flow moving steadily. We sometimes need to encourage the doctors to keep their charts done up and try to assist them in any way we can to make their load as light as possible. It is also our duty to protect all records and treat them as confidential property of the patient, safeguarded by our department for future reference by the physician.


Reprinted from a book created by Elk Point Hospital Staff in 2008