A visit to "Woburn Abbey Base Hospital" Part 2

This is the second part of an article that featured in The British Journal of Nursing on the 27th February 1915. We previously heard about the meeting with Her Grace, The Duchess of Bedford, and now we are taken on a room by room tour of Woburn Military Hospital.

"On entering we stepped into the central passage, which divides the building in half, at the far end of which steps lead into a beautiful garden. Everything struck one as being bright, light, white and clean; to the left a corridor led direct to the patients’ Reception Room, in which are latticed cupboards for their clothes, and from which they can pass into a warm and commodious apartment fitted with six baths – with boiler room and drying room nearby. A shelf runs the whole length of the bath room, and here are to be found marked bags into which soiled clothes can be placed and quickly removed for disinfection. On returning along this corridor, to the left is a fine Recreation Room, where games, papers, writing tables and a piano are provided to while away the time, on the right, boot room, lavatories and bed-pan sink; and opening into the main passage the anaesthetising room and the beautiful operating room. All have been built for the purpose. All these departments are washable, and have been fitted with electric light, the floor is of pure white marble, and the fittings by Down, and the Hospitals and General Contracts Co. So much for the re-modelling of the Tennis Court.

Once again in the central passage one turned to the right to find the Riding School transformed into the hospital proper. It contains two wards – one small, for six beds; and one a beautiful and spacious ward for 30 beds – both are furnished alike : highly polished red-wood floors, spring mattressed beds, with spotless sheets, and blue and white coverlets;  high bed tables with bright red and white covers, sufficiently wide to span the bedsteads, and thus provide room for serving food in comfort, and for books, games, letters and what not; sanitary glass lockers beside each bed, plenty of comfortable chairs and cushions, and tables set out with a profusion of lovely flowers. We noted a scheme in cyclamen on one, and of magnificent hyacinths on another, and at the far end of the ward a golden blaze of daffodils. Through ventilation has been provided by opening the original windows – placed high in the walls – and by inserting a lower line of windows the whole length of both sides of the wards, through which lovely sunshine, and delightful air came streaming into this beautiful and homelike place, the day we paid our visit. Nor was it surprising to hear how greatly the patients appreciate all the care and comfort lavished upon them. Every convenience is provided to enable the nursing staff to perform their duties efficiently. In an ante-room near the wards, they have tables and ample space for their work; here in cunning annexes, are arranged the medical stores, linen room, surgical store room, bath rooms, basins and lavatory for bed patients only – everything at hand and perfectly organised. To their own personal comfort the kindest consideration has been given – the sitting room, looking on the garden, is as beautiful as comfortable –all comfy chairs, rosy chintzes, and lovely flowers; across the passage they have a neat little kitchen, and passing through the Hall, and upstairs are situated airy, freshly furnished bedrooms – providing that privacy and peace, so necessary for the recuperation of energy for those attending the sick, who absorb from the true nurse so much of her strength and vitality. It was not therefore surprising to find the Sister-in-Charge, Miss Evelyn E. Livesey, pleased with and proud of her delightful surroundings, and to note the happy alertness which, apparently, inspires the nursing staff.

Outside this wonderful hospital, transformed truly by a Master Builder, situated close by, is the Steward’s annexe containing three separate departments: the dry goods store, the game larder, with bins of fresh vegetables, and the meat larder, all, of course, well aired and lighted ;  and last, but not least, a newly erected kitchen, in the charge of a chef and his son, where dainty rolls and a variety of kickshaws fresh from the oven were displayed, and from whence is served an abundance of nourishing food – the very finest and most efficacious medicine in the world for building up the health and strength of wounded men.

At the Abbey Hospital nothing that generous thought can provide has been spared. It ranks as a Base Hospital, and the patients are drafted there straight from the front. A medical officer is in residence, assisted be a highly trained nursing staff, and we have no doubt that the men treated there with so much skill would rejoice, if they knew it, that a paternal Government did not see its way to permit the organiser of their comfort and well-being to serve her country on the high seas.

Associated with the Abbey Hospital is the Cottage Hospital designed and built by the Duchess of Bedford some eleven years ago. It is a model of its kind, to which we hope to refer in a future issue. It is a relief in these days to find our work, which needs years of untiring study and application, recognized at its true value.


Reproduced by courtesy of the Royal College of Nursing

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