Penrith District Dispensary and Benevolent Society and Nepean Cottage Hospital

Penrith District Dispensary and Benevolent Society and Nepean Cottage Hospital

Penrith District Dispensary and Benevolent Society was formed during 1846 (exact date unknown). Its meeting place was the Court House, Henry Street, Penrith. (Location of the Dispensary unknown). It continued in existence until March 1860 when it became known as Penrith Hospital and Benevolent Society.

In March 1855 the Society resolved to expend funds to its credit on a hospital in the town of Penrith . £500 was allocated for the purpose and in July 1855 the Colonial Treasurer advised a similar amount of £500 was placed in the estimates for the erection of a hospital.

In July 1855, Captain Phillip Parker King, RN offered one acre of land to the Society for the erection of a hospital. A sub Committee selected a site on a slight rise north of the Great Western Road just prior to entry to Penrith. It was located in Henry Street on King’s sub division. When the railway cut through Henry Street , the site of the hospital was in the eastern part, now Cox Avenue (Lots 145, 147, 149).

The exact date of completion of the hospital is uncertain but the Committee inspected the building on 16 November 1857 and requested some modifications. The building was completed by 30 July 1858. It appears the hospital did not open to the public until March 1860 – medical services and furniture being organised in the meantime. The Penrith District Dispensary and Benevolent Society changed names, as indicated above, at this stage. The hospital continued in operation until late 1870 or early 1871.

Penrith’s first hospital

Between the closure of this hospital and early 1890 the Nepean District had no accommodation for the relief of the sick and injured.

In March 1890, the premises of Mrs Price in High Street opposite the courthouse were rented for £1 per week as a hospital. On 1 April 1890, Mrs Lawrence was appointed acting matron and caretaker. On 9 April 1890 the Nepean Cottage Hospital was formally opened. In December 1892, the Committee of the Nepean Cottage Hospital accepted the offer of 3 acres at Lemongrove from the Honourable PG King, MLC.

The first cottage hospital

The new hospital was built on this site and was officially opened on 3 July 1895. The opening of the new Nepean Cottage Hospital was a most important function, and a very large crowd gathered to witness the proceedings. The memorial stone had been laid by Mrs James Ewan of Glenleigh on 19 December 1894. A gold key was presented to the President which opened the new hospital to the public for the first time. After official business preparations were concluded a first-class programme of vocal and instrumental music were enjoyed.

Nepean Cottage Hospital

In 1904 an operating theatre was added and in 1908 property adjourning the hospital (3 acres belonging to Mr Phillips) was purchased in order that a Nurses Home could be acquired. In 1909 the new Nurses Home was opened and this was followed in 1910 by the opening of a new Isolation Ward.

The hospital was further extended in 1945 through provision of a Maternity Unit and four new cottages to house nursing staff.The future needs of the district had been under review for some time at this stage and plans were reaching finality in 1938 for construction of a new hospital. Intervention of the war delayed the planning of the project which was recommenced at the conclusion of the war and the new hospital was opened on 12 May 1956. This saw closure of the former hospital at Lemongrove.

It was initially intended that the site of the former Nepean District Hospital at Lemongrove be sold. However, it was later decided to renovate and extend the buildings on the site to provide hospitalisation for aged infirm and chronically ill persons. This is where the history of the Governor Phillip Special Hospital begins.

The Governor Phillip Special Hospital

The buildings of the former District Hospital having been remodelled and extended, the Governor Phillip Special Hospital was officially opened on 21 July 1962 with the first patients being admitted on 1 August 1962. Upon its opening in 1962 the Governor Phillip Special Hospital consisted of 90 beds in three wings named after long-serving local doctors;

East Wing 35 beds – later named Manly Barrow Wing
West Wing 38 beds – later named Edward Day Wing
South Wing 17 beds – later named Frederick Higgins Wing

The following additions have been made since the opening of the hospital;

21 August 1965 20 bed Home Annex (W.L. Chapman Annexe)
15 June 1968 Geriatric Day Hospital
3 February 1973 The Rehabilitation Area(Adrian J Newton Rehabilitation Unit)
9 March 1974 A.M. Ross Wing – accommodating 24 patients.

Some internal modifications to the buildings have resulted in redistribution of beds throughout the hospital;

HM Ross Wing 28 beds catering for intensive rehabilitation to patients of all ages and Geriatric Assessment Services.
Manly Barrow Wing 35 beds – slow stream rehabilitation, respite/crisis care facilities, long term stay.
Edward Day Wing 31 beds – long term stay.
Frederick Higgins Wing 20 beds – long term stay terminal care beds.
WL Chapman Annexe 20 beds – persons with high level of independence not requiring constant nursing supervision.

Day Hospital Rehabilitation Unit for both inpatients and non inpatients including a well equipped Workshop.

Day Centre Social and remedial activities.

Governor Phillip Special Hospital

In addition to the above on site services the hospital offers a Community Assessment Team which conducts visits to clients’ homes etc. in order to assess the total needs of the individual in his/her normal setting. Regular visits from various professional staff of the hospital to members of the local community are conducted and a meals-on-wheels service is conducted by the Governor Phillip Special Hospital Mobile Meals Service in association with the hospital.