IN RECENT times, with the level of health services to the Leeton shire coming under question, it is interesting to recall that at one time in Leeton's history, as well as a public hospital, there were a number of private hospitals in operation, serving the health needs of the shire's residents.
The last private hospital to be constructed was The Haven, which is still standing today in Sycamore Street, now, as a private home.
The first private hospital in Leeton was The Merungle.
It was established in 1915 and was located where the old Wade Club stood.
A number of other private hospitals were established and then closed, and in 1926 after the sale and closure of The Merungle, The Allynbrook Private Hospital opened on the site of the now Leeton Soldiers Club.
It was a two-story building and this proved to be problematic when transferring patients, so Matron Fergusson, who managed the hospital, moved location to a site in Belah Street Leeton.
The last private hospital to be built was The Haven Private Hospital.
Its builder and owner was a well-known Leeton identity Tom Ashton.
Mr Ashton ran the local funeral service and was a member of the Leeton Ratepayer's Association.
In 1931 he was elected to the Willimbong Shire Council's "A" Riding.
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He wasted no time in throwing himself into community activities including organising a 100-ton wood drive for the District Hospital.
He also organised and built a bridge over a small creek near the Yanko Creek Weir, opened a fibrous plaster works and was a driving force on the Leeton Show Society.
Located on the corner of Sycamore and Yarran Streets, the Haven Private Hospital boasted "it is fitted out with electric heating ... hot and cold water and designed ... to all the latest requirements".
It consisted of 21 rooms, 13 private wards and one completely sound proof room. It also came with the latest bell communication system.
It opened on 14 September 1935 with Sister I.M. Berger as its licensee and manager.
The hospital continued operating for a number of years with a number of licensees and managers, but during the war years became known mainly as a maternity hospital.
Trouble commenced in 1944 when military authorities recalled large number of nurses from regional areas to assist with the war effort.
This left only the matron and two nurses at The Haven to cover the entire hospital 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
An empathetic Mr Ashton warned the council of the plight and the fact that the matron had worked for 23 continuous hours at one stage.
In fact, her personal physician stated she was so run down that she was unfit to continue work due to the stress she was under.
Luckily for new mothers in the Leeton Shire, the new Leeton District Hospital had been constructed and opened on the 21 October 1942, and it appears they were able to accommodate Leeton's new born.
The Haven closed shortly after, in September 1944, but reopened a short time later as The Haven Boarding House.
Its closure meant there were no longer any private hospitals in the Leeton shire.
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Disclaimer: The information found in this article has come from a number of sources. The Leeton Family and Historical Society has taken every measure where possible to ensure accuracy and therefore cannot accept any responsibilities for inaccuracy or omissions.
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