Mar 23, 2010

Mother Monica ~ Part II

Convent House
Upon their arrival, the sisters were greeted and led to their new convent house where they quickly settled in and got to work setting up the school in the church next door. It wasn't long before they became acutely aware of a developing problem in their new community. Accidents were common place in the construction of the railway and injured workers were being brought into town and cared for in hotels and boarding houses as no hospital existed. Sometimes the doctors would call upon the sisters to assist them even though they had no formal training in nursing.

Church and School
In 1883 construction began on a new wing at the convent to provide for two additional school rooms. Early in 1884 a badly injured man was brought into town and placed in a shed by the railway tracks because no bed could be found for him. When the sisters heard about this, they brought the man to the convent and put him in one of the unfinished school rooms where they nursed him back to health. This man was to become the seed for what was to follow. News of his care got out to the community and soon the convent was seeing a steady stream of new ''patients''. Since the other Sisters were busy running the school, the task of caring for these sick and injured people fell onto Sister Monica.

It was clear to all that a hospital was needed so a hospital committee was formed. By the spring of 1884 the convent's new wing that was meant for the school was completely full with the sick and injured that Sister Monica was caring for so planning got underway to obtain land for the purpose of building a hospital. This was achieved through a donation to the Sisters by the Government of Ontario and on September 8, 1884 the cornerstone was laid for what was to become the new St. Joseph's Hospital. The property was right next door to the convent and the official opening of the 2 story brick building was in May of 1885 with Sister Monica leading the way.

In 1887 Sister Monica became Mother Monica and continued to manage and vastly expand the hospital until her retirement in 1923. In the early years, Mother Monica was known to embark on hazardous treks up and down the rail line to collect money at the camps to keep her beloved hospital going. She even devised an ''insurance plan'' of sorts where in return for a donation, she would provide a card to the donor guaranteeing them whatever health care they might require in the future. By 1900 more space was needed so a third story was added to the original building along with a new three story wing. In 1904 a School of Nursing and a Medical Society were established. Additional wings were added in 1905, 1918 and again in 1928 giving the hospital a reputation for being one of the finest in the country for it's time. In 1922 the hospital was rated as a Standardized Hospital in the A-One category, the only one with such a rating between Toronto and Winnipeg. It is said that Mother Monica was personally instrumental in obtaining financing for the growth and expansion she oversaw and that ''she relied on the charity that her own warmth and kindness inspired.''

St. Joseph's Hospital in it's Progressive Stages of Development
Related Posts:
Mother Monica ~ Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV - Part V
Mother Monica ~ Bonus Postcard
Mother Monica ~ Tombstone Tuesday

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