Edendale Hospital’s founding father lauded

2014-02-06 00:00

THE founding father of Edendale Hospital was honoured yesterday during a memorial lecture marking the hospital’s 60th anniversary.

Dr John L. Parker was the first medical superintendent at Edendale Hospital, and the first employee there, as he arrived while the hospital was still under construction.

He led the hospital for two years before leaving to take up a position as the director of all hospitals in the province.

“He had been working at King Edward Hospital when he was approached to take over as the superintendent at Edendale. When he got here, there was nothing. They were still building; there were no staff or anything, he was the first person here,” said his daughter Patsy Hunter.

Hunter said she had fond memories of when she and her family moved to their home, which was inside the hospital grounds.

“It was very interesting … Many of these buildings were not here; it was just vast vacant farm land.”

Edendale Hospital, which was constructed in the 1950s, was built because of bed shortages at Grey’s Hospital, which at that time accommodated all races.

Staff members who know its history said Grey’s Hospital had been experiencing bed shortages, especially for black people.

Hunter said: “When Edendale started operating, it was the best. It was one of the first hospitals in southern Africa with more advanced technology; it had the best burn unit, the best everything.”

Retired staff members who knew Dr Parker said he epitomised dedication and hard work.

Retired staffer Elizabeth Monaheng, who gave a detailed history of the hospital in its first 20 years from 1954-1974, detailing its success, challenges and changes, said: “We need more healthcare professionals who will emulate Dr Parker … Ppeople who will take the healthcare services to the people.”

The hospital, which is undergoing a revamp, including the building of a new clinic to dispense ARV medication, will hold several celebrations in the coming weeks to honour the hospital’s 60-year anniversary and also raise funds for further development.

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