Extracts from The Bega Standard

Some editions of The Bega Standard are available on microfiche in the Bega Library.

Letter to the Editor of The Bega Standard, 19 May 1886.

SIRS:- Taking a keen interest in the welfare of country hospitals and kindred institutions,  I made enquiry shortly after my arrival as to the whereabouts of your local hospital; to my surprise I was informed that such an institution did not exist – however , it would appear that several attempts have been made without success, lacking, I understand, a want of unity amongst the then promoters.

Under these circumstances I take the liberty of bringing the subject prominently before the Bega and Eden residents, through the medium of your valuable columns, and would earnestly elicit your co-operation to bring about  a successful issue to alleviate the sufferings of our fellow creatures by the erection and establishment  of a cottage hospital in Bega.

This township being centrally situated, equal benefits would be derived by the surrounding towns, viz: Eden, Cobargo, Candelo, Brogo, Wolumla, Pambula, Merimbula and Wyndham .

Considering the best means of arriving at a feasibility of carrying out my views and generally ventilating the subject, I called upon our worthy Mayor, Mr Rawlinson, respecting the project, and requested him to convene a public meeting, to which he not only acquiesced, but promised his warm support – and nominated Saturday, 12th June, when the School of Arts will be placed at his disposal, being the most central and capacious room available.

I trust that all classes and sects of the community will endeavour to be present, to discuss the ways and means, elect committee of management, secretary and treasurer etc.

I would respectfully suggest to your readers, that in order to get over the most difficult barrier, that is making a fair start, the following programs may be considered, subject to such alterations as may seem fit upon discussing the matter pros and cons.

Life members may be admitted at 12 pounds.

By the Hospital Act, all members eligible to vote at election must subscribe at least one pound, and non-voting  members 10 shillings per annum, whilst all other small donations, according to the means of the donors, would be gratefully accepted.

I purpose to issue circulars, embodying this letter, through the length and breadth of the district, and have availed myself of such means, that it will have an opportunity to reach almost every cottager in the several townships, and every homestead in the district, inviting all to attend the public meeting convened by his worship the Mayor, Mr Rawlinson, or to send a representative to give vent to their views and submit any suggestions for consideration.

How to finance a Bega hospital

By  means  of a circular on the proposed hospital meeting we will get the hearty co-operation and sympathy in this movement from each of the adjacent townships.

A collector could, in due course, be appointed to call upon persons promising annual subscriptions.

With a view to place something tangible before the public I take this initiative  course, in order that the proposals  suggested may be fully considered before the meeting.

Finance:- I find, upon looking through the electoral roll of the Eden-Bega district , there are no less than 1663 eligible voters.

Surely, in this populous and well-to-district  we could find at least six landowners who would be glad to submit their names as life members, by subscribing 12 to 72 pounds; if one-fourth of the electors (viz 413); a fourth of the remainder might fairly be expected to subscribe ten shillings per annnum.

Perhaps, I might add  to this amount the sum now in hand, subscribed some time since  for hospital purposes and deposited in the AJS Bank Bega, viz 100 pounds.

Furthermore there are many other sources  from which hospital revenue may be legitimately obtained – hospital ball, and sports in aid of funds, consisting of foot races and sports generally, under the auspices and personal assistance of the committee.

At Hay for instance, a town not larger than Bega, a sum of 75 pounds was raised in two days.

I doubt not that the clergy of all denominations would follow their fellow labourers in Christian charity, and lending their aid by setting apart one Sunday in the year  for collections in aid of hospital funds.

“Hospital Sunday”, being now quite a recognised feature in country towns as well as in Sydney and Melbourne;  this together with hospital boxes placed in conspicuous business places in the several townships, where odd change can to the credit of the donor be deposited, would, I venture to say, amount to 150 pounds, making in all a total of 900 pounds for the first year.

Before the day appointed for the meeting I shall endeavour to obtain from as many hospitals as I am able the rules and by-laws by which they are managed, together with their last annual reports, which will give us a valuable insight into the modus operandi to ensure success to the hospital system.

Now as to the initiative expense. I have drawn up an approximate estimate allowing, I take it,  a very fair margin; the first year's expenses will naturally be more than any succeeding year, having in view the purchase of beds, linen, furniture, surgical instruments, kitchen utensils etc.

Bega Cottage Hospital

Revenue from all sources ... 900 pounds

Estimate  for erection of eight roomed cottage, verandah etc, etc 1200 pounds, to be built by approved Building Society according to plan at 8 per cent, say 96 pounds.

Extras unforeseen ... 50 pounds.

Purchase of necessary surgical instruments ... 80 pounds.

Beds, bedding and necessary furniture ... 120 pounds.

Salary to Wardsman and wife ... 65 pounds.

Necessary drugs to be kept at hospital, splints, bandages etc, etc ... 50 pounds

Contract with druggist at two shillings, ninepence a bottle ... 90 pounds.

Meat, vegetables, milk ... 150 pounds

Medical comforts, porters etc ... 25 pounds

Plans and architect's fees ... 50 pounds

Fencing, digging well, wood  and water ... 40 pounds

Medical officer's (elected) honorarium for first year to cover actual expenses ... 30 pounds.

Consultation fees etc ... 34 pounds.

Total ... 900 pounds.

This is to allow for eight beds to start with, two for women and six for men.

It will be observed that I have not calculated in any manner the subsidy allowed by Government, being one pound for every one pound raised by private contributions, for I am strongly of the opinion that a small cottage hospital, such as I here propose, should be made almost self-supporting.

The fees to be charged patients, according to their means, should rest with the committee.

I have not included any revenue by reason of such fees, leaving that as a margin to meet miscellaneous  expenses that have not occurred to me.

I have no doubt  that upon application, the Government would allow us a small sum  to give the establishment a fair start.

Another question is the present site, and I think that most people interested would agree with me , that the site is not suitable, being too far from town, however that is subject for discussion.

If the matter were placed under the consideration of the Honourable J P Garvan, who is well acquainted with the requirements , and has the interests of the district at heart, this difficulty could easily be remedied.

Leslie Macarthur

In The Bega Standard before the meeting held on 12 June 1886. Mr Macarthur continues:

I trust I have not over-estimated the rate of subscriptions derivable in the combined townships and district.

When I mention the fact that in a small country town where I was located, Hay, the Chinamen alone subscribed upwards of 60 pounds (a great portion of it unsolicited) annually towards the hospital.

I feel confident that the good folks of Bega-cum-Eden will not be outdone by celestial philanthropy.

The medical fraternity would be greatly benefited by such an establishment.

Very many  miles have yearly to be traversed  by doctors treating patients, who, however willing, are unable to pay; by having a local hospital the doctor's time, horses, etc, would be saved by concentrating such sufferers under one roof, where each phase of complaint can be observed.

Outdoor patients could also be arranged for under the recommendation of two of the committee, but only in the case of the extremely poor, which class, I am glad to observe are “most conspicuous by their absence” in Bega.

Many of the resident here are members of lodges, and thus obtain medical advice and sick pay; still they would, in the hospital, as paying patients, be under the immediate care of an experienced nurse, and visited almost daily by the medical officer, without the  sick pay being interfered with.

Now-a-days, many persons in the higher walks of life of both sexes, suffering from serious maladies, take rooms at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney with a view of more efficient nursing, etc.

Unfortunately in the middle classes an absurd fancy seems to prevail, that it is infra dig to be treated in a hospital, in fact, risk their lives at home rather than go to hospital to stand a better chance of being cured.

I would earnestly desire to remove such an idea, for whilst they are reaping benefits for themselves, by the constant care and attention bestowed upon them,  they are assisting to make the cottage hospital self-supporting by their weekly payments, and helping to provide a retreat for fellow creatures who are not so fortunate in possessing the world's goods.

In conclusion, I trust the meeting will prove a success and that ere my tenure of office in this district ceases, the cottage hospital of Bega will be an established fact.

The Bega Standard 30 March 1887:

Hospital Matters

We learn from the hon. secretary, Mr. French, that a letter, dated 14th February, was sent from the Board of Health, Sydney, to Messers. Bolster and Hotson, the architects, seeking for further particulars, to which the latter have neither furnished a reply nor communicated with Mr. French. The information asked is : distance of the site from the township - a tracing of same and surroundings to be furnished; also certain other information required by the printed schedule. Exceptions are taken that the doors and passages, as per plan, are too small for the carriage of patients on stretchers, and should be 4 feet and 6 feet wide; also that bathroom accommodation should be provided for housekeeper, and more ventilation in lobby adjacent to patients' baths, etc. The question also is asked why the proposed hospital should be estimated to cost as much as the Taree hospital, which is larger. With reference to the above, we understand Mr French has sent forward a tracing as required, together with any other information in his power. The delay now appears to rest with the architects, and it is to be hoped they will be smartly stirred up, as there is quite sufficient red tape in the Department without private houses adopting a similar role.

The Bega Standard 13 October 1888:


It was decided to enclose the whole grounds, the paddocks with a two-rail fence, and the land surrounding the building, embracing an area of about two acres, with a sawn paling fence, six feet high on the east, south and west sides, and a sawn batten fence on the north side. The latter enclosure will be used for gardening purposes, and when it is planted with trees will improve the appearance of the building. The paddock containing about ten acres will be used for depasturing stock in connection with the institution.