Hospital Full To Overflowing

I start the new month with a new picture in my desktop calendar, and an armful of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine coursing through my body. With almost biblical significance, I was yesterday directed back to the village where I grew up, to receive my first shot of vaccine. The vaccination centre was located in a new doctors’ surgery in the grounds of the old Northowram Hall Hospital. So what better way to pass the time whilst waiting for my jab than to search for echoes of the past using the ever fruitful British Newspaper Archives. What remains of the old Halifax Isolation Hospital has been converted into apartments, and new houses occupy what once were spacious grounds. The medical legacy of the site, however, has been brought into clear focus these last few weeks, as hundreds of people have been directed there to receive their Covid vaccines. An article from the Halifax Evening Courier from December 1934, reminded me that the dangers posed by infectious diseases are anything but new.

Northowram Hall  : New Hospital Full to Overflowing  There have been more patients in the Halifax Isolation Hospital this Christmas than for many years, and though the new hospital was full to overflowing there was no lack of the Christmas spirit. The staff of the hospital, though faced with the heavy task of taking care of 116 patients, of whom about 70 are diphtheria cases, were able to make Christmas a real happy time. 
There were three Christmas trees with electric lights for the adult wards, and each of the twelve children’s wards had a Christmas tree. Seasonable Christmas fare was served including turkey, plum pudding, jellies, etc. for those who were well enough and lighter fare was provide for others. 
Father Christmas visited the wards during the night, and he toured the wards again during the day, accompanied by “Mutt and Jeff”, two characters who provided quite a lot of amusement. The Mayor (Coun. Mrs. Lightowler) visited the hospital on Christmas Day and Coun. Chambers (chairman of the Health Committee) was at the hospital yesterday. 
Large numbers of toys, books. etc. had been received from residents in Northowram, from old patients and from many friends.

Here’s hoping that the wonderful work being undertaken at the Northowram surgery, and all the other vaccination centres, will mean that news of hospitals being full to overflowing, is definitely a headline from the past.

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