Coaldale Hospital (Coaldale, Alberta, Canada)
Coaldale Hospital, formerly a Mennonite institution in Coaldale, Alberta, was established in 1934. Among the Mennonite settlers at Coaldale who had come from Russia, it was a tradition that care of the sick and the poor was the responsibility of the community or the congregation. On this basis two organizations were formed in Coaldale: (1) The Coaldale Mennonite Health Society (C.M.H.S.), with the aim of bringing medical service within the reach of the poor; and (2) The Coaldale Hospital Society (C.H.S.), to make hospitalization easily accessible to everyone.
The C.M.H.S. was formed in 1928 and entered a contract with a Lethbridge physician, Dr. W. S. Galbraith, to render all his professional services to members of the society and their families for a monthly fee of $1.00 per family. The society started out with 25 members, but soon grew to over 300, with increasing advantages to the members. In 1932 a similar contract was made with the Galt Hospital in Lethbridge (10 miles distant). This brought health services up to a fairly high standard. But there still was the difficulty of language. This was also remedied when in 1933 Dr. David L. Epp, of their own kin and creed, took over the contract of the C.M.H.S. and moved to Coaldale.
George Kroeker and John Martens, at the suggestion of Helen Martens, a local graduate nurse, tackled the task of bringing hospitalization to Coaldale. They rented a room in the old Bank Building, furnished it with the necessary equipment for a 3-bed "Nursing Home," and persuaded some friends to join in the undertaking, organizing the C.H.S. At first only nine members enrolled with a fee of $10.00 each. The nursing home was officially opened on 12 February 1934, under the name of "Coaldale Hospital."
The same year the C.H.S. acquired its own premises in a more suitable location, and on 3 February 1935, a new Coaldale Hospital was opened with Dr. Epp as physician and Helen Martens as matron. In its early years the hospital had a hard financial struggle. It never lacked patients, but it was difficult to meet the demands for expansion, new surgical equipment, etc. The hospital by the early 1950s was equipped with twelve beds.
The physician in charge was always the local doctor of the C.M.H.S. The hospital staff was always short of registered nurses and had to employ practical nurses.
In the early 1950s the C.H.S. had 23 members with a membership fee of $25.00. The net assets were $15,000.00. Dr. Epp has served the district for thirteen years, Helen Martens served during the first two years, Anna Regehr served as head nurse from 1936 to 1944, and A. A. Toews headed the hospital board for fourteen years.
By the mid-1950s the hospital board was enlarged and the facility became a community hospital. Funds were raised to build a new hospital, which was officially opened on 23 May 1954. This hospital was part of the Lethbridge Municipal District.
Coaldale: "the gem of the west." Coaldale, Alta. : Booklet Committee, 1955: 17-18.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 631. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Janz, B. B. "Coaldale Hospital (Coaldale, Alberta, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1954. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C617ME.html.
APA style: Janz, B. B. (1954). Coaldale Hospital (Coaldale, Alberta, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C617ME.html.