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Vol 39  No 16
June 28, 2007


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The Life of a Cottage Hospital: The Bonne Bay Experience

By Dr. John K. Crellin

The Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital, located in Norris Point, operated between 1939 and 2001. In this well-illustrated history Dr. John Crellin, Faculty of Medicine, draws on unpublished oral histories and printed reminiscences as well as manuscripts and a variety of publications.

The book has three themes: the relationships of a small hospital with the people and community it serves; the quality of rural health care and the overall trends in medicine during the 20th century; and the extent to which the story reveals changing values that have relevance to tensions in health care today.

The story of the Bonne Bay hospital serves as a case history that illustrates features common to 14 other government owned and operated cottage hospitals established in rural Newfoundland between 1936 and 1952. These hospitals were designed to accommodate two to four patients with a nurse and to provide a local dispensary for the doctor.

One famous nurse associated with the Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital was Myra Bennett, based at Daniel’s Harbour. Dr. Noel Murphy, the second physician at the hospital, said that Nurse Bennett saved many lives in her area and helped people to enjoy better health because of her care and health education.

Dr. Crellin’s account emphasizes the strong feeling of community ownership of the hospital, part of which came from the community contribution to the building itself. The local community provided 6,500 man hours, 1,250 woman hours and 74,000 feet of lumber to the building, as well as $1,200 in cash to supplement the government grant.

The Life of a Cottage Hospital: The Bonne Bay Experience is published by Flanker Press Ltd., St. John’s.

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