My Memories of Working At Elk Point Municipal Hospital - Violet E. McFadyen -

It was on April 20,1969 that I became a member of the Elk Point Hospital Staff and I have never regretted it. We were very busy with lots of patients in those years and I certainly enjoyed my work and found it to be both very interesting and rewarding. I found that the knowledge I had of nursing along with the training from Mrs.Tredger could be put to good use daily. The patients were most responsive to our care and kindness. The Staff were friendly and we worked together and helped one another. When time permitted, we could go where extra help was needed. Maternity was an interesting area. The ladies would come in usually not feeling too great but as soon as their baby arrived, happiness and excitement abounded with parents making decisions about the baby’s name, how to dress the baby and all kinds of nice activities.

Surgery was another interesting area for me. What a pleasure to see the patients recover from painful surgery and become well again. Relating the details of a person’s surgery was often a topic of discussion amongst patients in the surgical wards. There was the Pediatric Ward and all those dear little children. Bless their little hearts! There were no dull moments with so many little folk who needed feeding or changing not now but right now. I remember a male patient going past the Pediatric Ward door just as meal trays were being delivered. He stopped long enough to comment, “It sounds like feeding time at the zoo”. He may have been quite right but I was never at the zoo at feeding time but I do know that, after the children’s hunger was satisfied, they would settle down to their nap. All would be quiet until hunger or wet diapers created unrest again. During my early years at the hospital, the RN’s and CNA’s wore white caps and white uniforms. The laundry staff, cleaning staff and cooking staff wore green uniforms. In those days, the hospital gowns, pyjamas, etc. were cut from huge bolts of material and sewn right at the hospital. Drapes and room divider curtains were also sewn at the hospital. Much mending was done and, on occasion, uniforms were altered to meet individual requirements. On one occasion, several of us had new uniforms which needed to be shortened. When I came in to see the seamstress, she carefully started pinning the hem to the proper length and, then quite suddenly, stopped and said to me, “Why am I doing this? You probably know more about hemming than I do.” (I had just shortened her coat for her a few days earlier.) She did, however, do my uniform and did a fine job. While the hospital had a regular seamstress, there were times when others such as the person in Medical Records might be asked to lend a hand with the sewing, if her time permitted.
Wc enjoyed close friendships with our colleagues at work and had lots of fun and happiness while doing our work. In the earlier years, the Cooks cooked for both patients and employees. What good meals wc had for a very small fee. In 1976, the big day came when wc moved from the old hospital to the new one. Off duty
staff, doctors, hospital board members, friends and community turned out to help with the move. Dr.K.C. Miller brought the first patient into the hospital - bed and all. The main move was mostly completed in one day. It was also the birthday of our Matron, Mrs.Wilmer so wc all sang “Happy Birthday” to her in the new hospital. The Staff all had a tour of the building prior to our move so it did not take too long for us to find our way around. Prior to the move, members of the staff came over to the new hospital to assist with the cleaning. I was lucky - the bed sheets and crib sheets needed to be lengthened to fit the new longer beds and cribs - as I was able to take them home an d sew them on my own machine between my work shifts. I always enjoyed sewing so I was pleased to do this
for the hospital. It was a real pleasure to work in the new hospital with everything so new, shiny and modern but, as we looked back, we had appreciated and enjoyed working in the old hospital which had been built in 1928. 

It was in March of 1976 that the Elk Point Hospital Auxiliary was formed. Over the years, we have bought many special items for the Hospital and are still doing so even though our membership has dwindled over the years. I am one of the Charter members of the Auxiliary. It has been rewarding experience and I am proud and happy to have been part of it

There were many interesting experiences I recall while working at the hospital. Before we left the old hospital, we had a terrible dust storm. When I went to work about 10:00 PM, it was windy with a little dust blowing about but we thought it would calm down. We were wrong! By midnight, we had a terrible wind and the dust was really moving. It had been a hot day and the windows had been left open to keep the rooms cool - that was the air conditioning system of that time. We raced around to get the windows closed upstairs then dashed to the basement to close the windows there - it was too late as the dirt was already
in. The lights went out all through the hospital and the children in Pediatrics were terrified of both the darkness and the howling wind. We scurried about and got some light with available flashlights. After awhile, our own plant cut in and restored lights before the flashlight batteries expired. It was then that we saw how much dirt we now had in the hospital. We washed window ledges and floors over and over again throughout the night shift as time permitted. Even the beds were dusty! That was one time you could see your footprints on the floor! Extra staff was called in for the day shift but the wind and dust persisted all day and only towards evening did the storm begin to abate. Truly the worst dust storm I had ever experienced.

One elderly gentleman used to come in as a patient and always brought lots of artificial bugs and little animals which he would place in the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times. He enjoyed pulling these pranks and taking us by surprise. Ladies often shared their crochet and knitting patterns with us as they convalesced. It always brings back special memories to me when I go through some of my work and recall a patient who gave me that pattern.
One night shortly after we moved to the new hospital, a mouse slipped under the patio door and evidently intended to spend the night with us. The staff did not feel so inclined and one person grabbed an Edmonton Journal, rolled it up, and terminated Mr.Mouse’s hospital visit. Needless to say, the open space below the door had let in more than cold air! 

We had our ups and downs but, overall, it was a wonderful career for me and I so enjoyed the friendship of Staff and patients along with the challenges of my work. I retired because of age regulations in 1981. It was indeed a sad change for me personally - I loved my work and have missed the work and the friends, both staff and patients. A lovely party was held in my honour in the Elk Point Legion Hall and that certainly will always be remembered fondly. As I reflect, it was great to have been a member of the Elk Point Hospital Staff.