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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Work at the Convalescent Depot

Work at the Convalescent Depot

The depot, which had been functioning at Casamassima, was transferred in April to San Spirito, on the coast near Bari, where a hutted and tented depot was erected in an almond and olive plantation around a large, solidly built house. The site and surroundings were a great improvement on the bleak and comfortless buildings formerly occupied. Construction work took some time to complete and there was difficulty with the supply of water till fresh piping was put in.

The unit then had a bed capacity of 750, with emergency expansion up to 1270 beds. Altogether, 2346 cases were admitted from April to June 1944. Of these, 1100 were medical, 725 surgical, 364 orthopaedic, and 157 were skin cases. It was noted that the wounds following secondary suture had done well and that this treatment had markedly shortened the convalescence of these cases compared with men wounded in the North African campaign. The medical cases admitted were convalescent from pneumonia, mainly the atypical form, hepatitis, and gastro-intestinal disorders. In June accidental injuries accounted for a large proportion of the surgical cases. Sprains of the ankle and knee were common and there were many cases of burns. The attachment of six members of the WAAC had proved a great success. Occupational therapy, consisting of useful work such as carpentry and gardening, was developed extensively.

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