Wednesday, 17 May 2017

No 5 AGH St Kilda Road

The No 5 Australian General Hospital (AGH) St Kilda Road was established in March 1915. Initially the hospital had 40 beds but by the end of the First World War it had expanded to 620 beds. Eight nurses worked in the hospital in 1915 but by 1918 63 nurses looked after patients at the hospital.
No 5 AGH - image from Australian War Memorial collection
When nurse Janet Gaff joined the AIF Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) on 11 August 1915 she was assigned to No 5 AGH where she nursed injured soldiers for twelve months. This experience no doubt assisted nurses like Janet who were later to serve overseas.

Before being accepted as a sister in an Australian military hospital nurses required recognised training qualifications including at least three years hospital experience. Janet had trained and worked at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and after migrating to Australia in 1891 worked in hospitals in country Victoria. She therefore had considerable nursing experience before joining the AANS.
No 5 AGH - image from Australian War Memorial collection
After twelve months at No 5 AGH Janet joined the No 4 Sea Transport Service as a Staff Nurse. Janet left Melbourne aboard the transport ship Euripides on 11 September 1916. During the following two and a half years she made three return trips on the Australia to England route. When in Australia Janet continued to nurse at No 5 AGH until it was time to return on a troop ship to England. Returning to Australia on 1 February 1919 Janet worked at the St Kilda Road hospital until her discharge from the army on 13 March. The hospital, as well as its core nursing staff, therefore had a number of nurses who worked there for a short time while waiting for their next posting.

In 1918 the hospital published the first issues of the magazine The No 5 which contained collections of articles written by staff and patients. The first issue of the magazine provides a brief history of the hospital including information on some of the services provided to patients (p 6). More detailed information about some of these services is provided elsewhere in the magazine. As well as providing general medical care the hospital had a Social Club providing concerts and other social activities for patients. There was also a Football Club  with regular matches arranged plus weekend outings for invalided and convalescent soldiers arranged by the Volunteer Motor Corps. The Anzac Buffet was a service provided for out-patients who required meals while attending the hospital. Red Cross also supplied clothing to discharged patients.

Copies of No 5 AGH can be downloaded from the National Library of Australia  -
Australia. Army. Australian General Hospital, 5th. 1918, The No. 5 : a magazine published by the patients and staff of No. 5 Australian General Hospital, St Kilda Road, Melbourne No. 5 Australian General Hospital, Melbourne viewed 8 April 2017

Images from Australian War Memorial collection -
Melbourne Ward 17 No 5 General Hospital St Kilda Road
Part of Ward 1 No 5 General Hospital St Kilda Road

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