New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
4 NZ General Hospital Opens at Helwan
4 NZ General Hospital Opens at Helwan
No. 4 NZ General Hospital (with most of its staff drawn from 4 Field Ambulance) opened as a 300-bed hospital at the Grand Hotel, Helwan, on 24 July. It was the first New Zealand general hospital established in Egypt, although 1 NZ General Hospital was operating in England at this time.
1 Lt-Col G. R. Kirk, OBE, m.i.d.; Dunedin; born Gisborne, 18 Jun 1907; physician; RMO 20 Bn 1939–40; physician 1 Gen Hosp 1940–41; 2 Gen Hosp, 1941; 1 Mob CCS 1942; in charge medical division 1 Gen Hosp, Sep 1942–Jan 1945.
5 Lt-Col J. K. Elliott, OBE, ED; Wellington; born Wellington, 24 Aug 1908; surgeon; RMO 18 Bn 1939–40; DADMS 2 NZ Div Dec 1940–Nov 1941; surgeon 1 Gen Hosp Nov 1941–Jun 1943; CO 4 Fd Amb Jun 1943–Apr 1944; Orthopaedic Consultant (NZ) Jun 1944–Mar 1945.
6 Col R. A. Elliott, OBE, ED, m.i.d.; Wellington; born Wellington, 8 Apr 1910; surgeon; surgeon 4 Fd Amb, 1 and 2 Gen Hosps, Oct 1939–1942; DADMS 2 NZ Div Feb–Jul 1943; CO 5 Fd Amb Dec 1943–Jul 1944; ADMS 2 NZ Div Dec 1944–Oct 1945.
The nursing staff comprised Miss D. I. Brown,1 Matron, and thirteen of the New Zealand sisters who had been working with 2/10 General Hospital; the remaining four sisters joined them later when all patients were transferred.
In the advance party of male staff there were 20 men of 4 Field Ambulance from 2/10 General Hospital, 7 men from 4 Field Ambulance, Maadi, and 24 graded men from base and divisional units. Then, on 31 July, the remaining 24 men from 4 Field Ambulance at 2/10 General Hospital (less three detailed to remain for special duty) were transferred to the Helwan staff.
Ordnance stores for a 300-bed hospital and medical stores for a 600-bed hospital were unpacked by the advance party, which also prepared living accommodation for the staff and got ready to receive patients. By 31 July the hospital had 188 beds equipped for the reception of medical, minor surgical, and convalescent patients. On the afternoon of that day 82 patients were smoothly transferred by 4 Field Ambulance from 2/10 General Hospital at Helmieh. On 3 August a further 61 patients were admitted from the Camp Hospital, Maadi. The first admission of a patient direct to the hospital was made on 2 August.
Medical cases and minor surgical cases were admitted to 4 NZ General Hospital.
Cases requiring major surgical operation were admitted to 2/10 General Hospital pending the completion of the operating block at Helwan.
Cases of venereal disease were admitted to 4 Field Ambulance (Camp) Hospital, Maadi.
Infectious diseases cases were admitted to 4 Field Ambulance (Camp) Hospital, Maadi.
Mental cases were retained at 2/10 General Hospital, but were to be transferred to 4 General Hospital as soon as suitable provision had been made for them.
A very complete passive air defence scheme was drawn up for 4 General Hospital in the event of enemy air attack.
1 Matron Miss D. I. Brown, RRC, m.i.d.; Wellington; born Napier, 24 Apr 1905; sister; sister-in-charge Camp Hospital, Ngaruawahia, Oct 1939–Jan 1940; Matron 4 Gen Hosp Jul–Oct 1940; Matron 2 Gen Hosp Oct 1940–Jun 1943; now Mrs R. G. Milne, Matron-in-Chief Wellington Hospital.
The medical officers were accommodated in Dr Moore's house and the sisters in M. Chalom's villa, while the men were quartered first in Villa Gubalieh and then in the Winter Palace Hotel. The Grand Hotel was a building of several stories, and work was early commenced on the installation of a lift to obviate the need to carry bed patients up and down stairs.
By 11 August an emergency operating theatre was equipped and ready for use pending the construction of a permanent theatre block. All types of emergency surgery were possible except where X-ray control was necessary, e.g., in compound fractures. The admission of all New Zealand surgical patients, other than those requiring X-ray, was arranged from this date. On the two subsequent days the remaining patients and four New Zealand sisters were transferred from 2/10 General Hospital to 4 NZ General Hospital. Although the transfer of these four sisters gave a certain relief to the overworked nursing staff, such was the increase in the amount of work that six members of the TANS1 were attached on 28 August. These were supplemented on 18 September by twelve members of QAIMNS,2 also temporarily attached.
The opening of the Kiwi Club on 10 August proved very useful to the hospital in the provision of recreational facilities for convalescent patients. The club was established mainly through the initiative of Lady Lampson, wife of the British Ambassador to Egypt, and the British Red Cross Society in Cairo. It was temporarily housed at the Boys' Preparatory School, Helwan, the building having been put at the disposal of the club's committee by the Minister of Education until the beginning of the school year, when the use of another building was obtained on the northern outskirts of Helwan. This building was originally erected by the Egyptian Education Department for the Boy Scout movement. In the homely atmosphere of the club games could be played and refreshments bought, and there was also a little shop. Later a swimming pool was provided. The Kiwi Club was a valuable adjunct to the New Zealand hospital in Helwan for over five years, and ladies of Helwan, Maadi, and Cairo provided a much-appreciated service in it.
2 Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service.
Lieutenant-Colonel Kenrick became commanding officer of the Helwan hospital on 9 September, following the return of Colonel MacCormick to Egypt from England. Captain Furkert had been posted to the hospital earlier. On 8 September seven medical officers and thirty-three orderlies from 2 Australian General Hospital were attached for duty. These included a radiologist, who supervised the installation of an X-ray plant which was first used three days later. The attachment of the Australian personnel was in accordance with an arrangement whereby 100 to 150 patients of the Australian Forces were temporarily accommodated during the move of certain units of the AIF from Palestine to Egypt, and pending the establishment of an Australian general hospital in Egypt.
Twelve sisters, five medical officers, and thirty men from New Zealand medical units of the Second Echelon in England arrived at Helwan on 17 September and immediately set to work as the number of patients increased and new wards were opened. There were then 337 patients. At the end of September, with the arrival of 2 NZ General Hospital in Egypt imminent, members of QAIMNS and the TANS returned to their own units after having given great help in the staffing problem. Twelve of the sisters concerned were New Zealand registered nurses attached to QAIMNS.