The creation of South Australia's first maternity hospital was made possible by the donation of money and land at 160 Fullarton Road, Rose Park, by the South Australia Company in 1900. The project was supported by Lady Tennyson, the wife of the then Governor of South Australia. Originally intended to be called the Lady Tennyson Maternity Home the name was changed to the Queen's Home in honour of the late Queen Victoria who died in 1901. Initially the maternity home was to be specifically for the poor, but it was later decided that those who could pay for the Home's services should, and that those who could not pay would be admitted free of charge. It was stated within the institution's constitution, however, that only married women would be eligible for care at the Home. The foundation stone was laid on 13 July 1901 by the Duke of York and Cornwall, who later became King George V. The Queen's Home at Rose Park was officially opened on 24 May 1902.
Run by the Queen's Home Committee of management the institution trained nurses in maternity work. The annual report for the Home's first year of operation showed that 80 patients were admitted and 80 babies were born. The 1903 annual report showed an increase to 154 births. In 1910 a separate cottage for pregnant women, known as the Waiting Home, was opened. In 1912, under an arrangement with the Government, a Babies Ward was opened for 'healthy State babies under one year old'. A rate of 10 shillings per week per child was paid by the Government to the Home for the care of the 'healthy' State children. Twelve shillings and sixpence a week was paid for any 'sick' child. Dealing with the large numbers of delicate and sick children sent to the Home by the Government proved difficult as the Home did not have the facilities or staff numbers to deal with very ill children. As a result of this situation, the Government agreed only to send healthy babies, however, by November 1914 the Home ceased to take in any State children.
Although calls were made for the Queen's Home to extend its services to unmarried women there was great resistance to this change. In 1915 an explanation for this resistance was given by the then President of the Queen's Home management committee, Mr W. Herbert Phillipps:
' On many occasions the committee has been approached with the object of making the home a general midwifery hospital. Not only was it debarred from doing so by the constitution, but from a practical point of view the taking of cases of single women would have compelled the shutting out of worthy married women in need of assistance. While it was known that many married women of sensitive nature would have been debarred from seeking admission when they really needed the help of the institution if unmarried women were also admitted, it was urged on many occasions that the need of such a home for unwedded mothers was very great, although, as a matter of fact, such cases were being dealt with by the House of Mercy at Walkerville, the Roman Catholic Maternity Home, the Salvation Army Maternity Home, and the Government Maternity Home at the Destitute Asylum.'
Mr Phillipps went on to say that if the Government would provide them with a new building for the purpose, and if provision could be made towards determining the 'different classes' of unmarried women, the Home committee would give 'earnest attention to evolving a suitable scheme.'
Two years later, in 1917, unmarried women were made eligible to be admitted to the Home.
In 1920 antenatal clinics began in the Queen's Home, and in 1923 the first medical registrar and resident medical officer were appointed.
A 1939 article noted that the wards at the Home had a maximum of 5 beds. Some wards had only two or three beds. This was very favourably compared with other maternity hospitals which often had up to 40 beds in a ward.
By the late 1930s the Home had no facilities for 'waiting' mothers. Women were admitted for the birth of their child and remained at the Home for 12 days afterwards. A 1938 article states that no distinction was made between married and unmarried mothers. All patients were called 'Mrs' and only the Matron of the Home was aware of any patient's marital status.
An article from 1938 reveals that women from the Kate Cocks Babies Home came to the Queen's Home for the birth of their babies and then returned.
In 1939 the Queen's Home was renamed the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital.
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31 August 2017
Cite this: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE01198
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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