Serving Middleton and area since 1916
In 1916, the first hospital in Middleton, Nova Scotia was established in a private residence. Within a year, a larger facility was needed and in 1917 the J. D. Mackenzie property at the corner of Main and King Streets was acquired and operated by Mrs. A. J. Banks. Three years later, the hospital was relocated to 22 Bridge Street and was operated by Miss Jessie Woodbury, RN.
It was soon realized that yet again, this hospital would be too small to provide the services needed by the community and so a movement was started by Dr. J. A. Sponagle, of Middleton to secure an even larger and better facility. Various groups were approached and, finally, the local War Veterans’ Association consented to sponsor the new hospital.
In 1921, the F. E. Cox residence on Commercial Street was purchased, moved to Gates Avenue, and converted into a hospital. At this time, the first Soldiers Memorial Hospital became a corporate body under the laws of the province of Nova Scotia. The hospital’s Board of Management was also formed to direct the overall planning and operations of the hospital.
Funds for the new hospital were received from local organizations, private donations, and other sources. The Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire (IODE) undertook the supply of equipment for the operating room and maintained it over the years.
Prior to the establishment of a Hospital Auxiliary, the Women’s Institute provided a great service to the institution. They provided all the kitchen equipment and linens and were the original group to start the annual Hospital Donation Day. On this day, a door-to-door canvass was made of the town and surrounding area and donations of all kinds were received.
Building on the support of these two groups, local organizations and communities undertook fundraising for equipment and maintenance of the patient rooms as their hospital projects, thus enabling the Board to provide the very best in hospital facilities at that time.
The workload of the hospital gradually increased over the years to the point where more space was needed. In 1936, a committee comprised of Dr. Braine, Annapolis Royal; Dr. O. R. Stone, Bridgetown; and Dr. L. R. Morse recommended an addition to the total number of beds at Soldiers Memorial Hospital to 27.
In 1946, the need for expansion was again experienced and it was decided to work towards the erection of a completely new and modern hospital. The present hospital site, at the east end of the town, was purchased in that year from Mrs. B. B. Gwillam. With the advent of a Provincial Hospitalization Program and the opportunity to receive Federal and Provincial Construction Grants, the construction of the new hospital began in 1960.
The hospital was officially opened in August 1961 containing 69 beds with provision for expansion. It was the first hospital built under the Provincial Hospitalization Program and, when completely equipped, cost $1,250,000. The expansion to 99 beds was carried out in 1967 at a further cost of $150,000.
With this addition, the outpatient department was improved; the business office, medical records, physiotherapy, maternity, and mental health offices were relocated; and additional space was added for the regional laboratory. The former maternity floor was then renovated to house 22 beds for Veterans’ Affairs of Canada patients. The first patients were admitted on March 19, 1984.
A new Veterans’ Affairs of Canada wing was built in 1986 and now houses 25 long-term beds for Veterans. Several hospital departments, including the Occupational Therapy and In-service Departments, as well as the local offices of Public Health and the VON, are also located in this building.