HistoryHistory unveiled on Friendlies wall display

History unveiled on Friendlies wall display

Friendly Society Private Hospital
The history of the Friendly Society Private Hospital has been showcased on a special memorial wall.

More than a century's worth of history has been unveiled by the Friendly Society Private Hospital, now displayed proudly in a special memorial wall in its centre foyer.

A timeline of photos and information is featured in the space, with information dating back to the 1890s when the idea of a society to champion community health was first established.

Cabinetry filled with historic artefacts are also on display as part of the memorial.

The feature was made possible though the successful application of a Regional Arts Development Fund- a partnership between the Queensland Government and Bundaberg Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

The grant was partly used to hire local historian Ross Peddlesden to collate information about the history of the organisation.

Ross said the project took many months to complete and was a mix of interviews and digging up information scattered throughout the community.

He said the end product was a timeline showcasing the rich history of the Friendlies pharmacy and hospital and how the community was a driving force behind its establishment.

“It's a history of the Friendlies as a social institution, not just a hospital, not just a pharmacy but its roots in the community,” he said.

“At the time the community thought the medical services that existed were insufficient.

“Rather than complain about it or go to the government, they got together to do something about it.”

It was a movement that saw the creation of the Friendly Society which began working towards improving medical facilities in the region.

Friendly Society Private Hospital
Ross Peddlesden, Friendly Society Private Hospital CEO Simone Finch and Mayor Jack Dempsey at the wall unveiling.

Ross said those deep roots in the community only became stronger over time.

“To meet some of the people that have given years of the life to the society, as well as hear the stories of those who made such a huge impact, it's been fantastic,” he said.

Some of those people include Bundaberg born and locally-trained nurse Agnes Novakoski who purchased a home in Crofton Street to transform it into the St Vincent’s Private Hospital.

That hospital was then purchased by the Friendly Society Medical Institute and ultimately became the first part of what is now the hospital.

Design brings Friendly Society Private Hospital historic timeline to life

Friendly Society Private Hospital graphic designer Aimee Courtice was an integral part of the project, using her skills to bring the history to life.

“It was a matter of me sifting through all that information that was out there and putting it all together,” she said.

“The whole project took about nine months and was a labour of love.

“It is lovely to see it all come together.”

The feature wall was officially opened to the public this week at a special ceremony.

History of Friendly Society Private Hospital 

1897 Bundaberg mutual aid lodges meet to form a Friendly Society to work towards improving medical facilities in the community.

1919 Special meetings of the Friendly Society are held with the purpose of forming the Bundaberg Associated Friendly Societies Medical Institute in order to take practical action to improve medical facilities. This was funded initially by a 10 pounds 10 shillings loan and a levy of two shillings and six pence per member.

1920 The Friendly Society Pharmacy is opened in leased premises in Bourbong Street. Mr W. E. Steppensen is appointed manager and sent on the train to Brisbane to purchase stock and fittings for the new business. The General Committee decides to purchase land at 174 Bourbong St to construct a new pharmacy.

1921 The new pharmacy opens. The building has the pharmacy downstairs and a Lodge meeting room upstairs. The building houses the pharmacy until 1987.

1924 Bundaberg born and locally-trained nurse Agnes Novakoski purchases a large high-set Queenslander private home in Crofton St West Bundaberg and transforms it into the St Vincent’s Private Hospital. The hospital has 15 beds and provides general medical and surgical services. The hospital has nurses quarters underneath and has chickens and a large vegetable plot in the back garden to provide provisions for patients and staff.

1930s Following the depression years it was identified that there was a need for the Institute to operate a hospital for its members.

1946 The Friendly Society Medical Institute purchases St Vincent’s Hospital and renames it St Vincent’s Friendly Society Private Hospital. Medical treatment continues unchanged at first. Agnes Novakoski retires and Sister Violet Cole becomes the first Matron of the new hospital.

Friendlies history wall
Artefacts are on show as part of the display.

Early 1950s The Institute purchases the old bank of New South Wales building on the corner of Quay and Barolin Streets to establish its own general practice medical facility. It begins to recruit general practitioners from the UK to staff it. This service offers free medical treatment to Friendlies members. It operates into the mid 60s.

1956 The first major refit of the old pharmacy building is carried out, including the construction of a mezzanine floor for the pharmacists to work on.

1962 Construction of the first major extension to the hospital begins. It consists of new operating theatres, private rooms and nurses quarters. After some delays the new complex opens in 1964.

1970 The Institute begins its investment in real estate development with the construction of a two story complex at 36 Quay Street housing professional offices and a new Lodge meeting room.

1974 and 1978 Further extensions to the hospital are carried out to provide x-ray and physiotherapy facilities as well as lift facilities. The cost is in excess of half a million dollars.

1979 The Institute expands its real estate investments by demolishing the general practice clinic and constructing the six-story BAFS Tower office building at a cost of over 1 million dollars.

1984 Further extensions to the hospital are completed, providing more wards and bringing its capacity up to 36 beds. There were approximately 50 staff members at this time.

1987 After 66 years of operation, the historic Friendlies Pharmacy moves from the now inadequate old building in Bourbong Street to larger and more modern premises in the ground floor of the Wide Bay Australia building on the corner of Barolin and Woongarra Streets.

1991 Changes in the Friendly Societies Act mean management of the Institute is required to be streamlined and modernised. As a consequence, the General Committee which has governed it for 72 years is disbanded and a new, smaller skills-based board is established.

1993 Originally known as the B.A.F.S. Private Hospital, the Friendly Society Private Hospital was re-registered under its new name. The long-awaited extensions were completed, doubling the hospital in size to 55 beds and 5200 square metres. Public tours were given.

Friendlies history wall
The history of the Friendly Society Private Hospital has been showcased on a special memorial wall.

1995 The old Woongarra Shire Building in Barolin Street was purchased by the Institute and the Friendly Society Pharmacy relocated to this large store which has been home to the pharmacy for the past 20 years.

1997 Construction of upper and lower levels to the latest extension on the Bingera Street side of the Friendly Society Private Hospital were completed.

2003 Friendlies Afterhours Medical Service opened and started providing an afterhours GP service to the community.

2006 Construction and ongoing expansion continued with the theatre unit growing from three to five state of the art operating theatres.

2011 The hospital’s biggest infrastructure and innovation development in both size and capital was completed, with approximately $28 million invested in buildings, technology and equipment. Plus, a second Friendly Society Pharmacy opened at the hospital.

2016 The Hospital completed works on the Medical Consulting Suites in Crofton Street. In April, the board of directors launched The Friendlies Foundation, the charitable, fundraising arm of The Friendlies, allowing the community to support The Friendlies financially with its plans for expanding patient services. In August, The Friendlies opened the relocated and expanded Day Oncology Unit. The new state-of-the-art unit increased the service in size from six chairs to 14 chairs and offered patients more space, comfort and a dedicated video conferencing room.

2017 The Friendlies will continue to grow with plans to open Unit 5, the first time all five inpatient units will have been open simultaneously, as well as a dedicated endoscopy unit and refurbishment of Theatre 3.