November 20, 2009
Principal staff of Colonial Hospital

We made a huge error in our “Images from our past” series last week. The photograph above, which was published on November 13, 2009, has nothing to do with “Bringing a dowry to his bride” as it was captioned.{{more}}

Instead, our investigations indicate that the photograph shows the staff of the Colonial Hospital (now the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital) sometime between 1901 and 1904.

With the help of Eugenie Anderson, granddaughter of R.M. Anderson and the 1907 St. Vincent Handbook , we have been able to identify the four persons seated. They are, from left, Robert Mowbrary Anderson who was the Steward; Dr. C. W. Branch – Medical Officer in charge; Beatrice C. Empson of St. Thomas’ Hospital, England, who was the Matron, and Mr. Eustace Theodore Young, the 2nd Dispenser.

A close inspection of the clothing of the women standing in the back row suggests that they were nurses, probably of different ranks, if the differences in their head accessories are to be given significance.

The 1907 St. Vincent Handbook, Directory & Almanac indicates the following, “principal members of the staff” at the hospital: Dr. C. W. Branch – Medical Officer in charge; Beatrice C. Empson – (of St. Thomas’ Hospital, England) Matron; T. N. Ellis – Chief Dispenser & Steward; E. T. Young – 2nd Dispenser.

Nurses: Eva Askew – 1st Class Midwife – #3 Ward; Rosamond John -1st Class Midwife – Maternity; Maria Frank – #1 Ward; Anne E. De Bique – #4 Ward; Rosalie Lewis – 1st Class Midwife – #2 Ward; Drucilla Sealey – 1st Class Midwife – #2 Ward.

The man standing at the far right is wearing a chauffeur’s cap and may be the ambulance driver. All the other persons are no doubt workers of the hospital.

The 1907 handbook describes the hospital as standing in its “own small grounds which are neatly kept and adorned with ornamental trees and gardens. The building consists of three blocks, connected upstairs by corridors, and the necessary out-buildings.”

The handbook continues: “One of these blocks, the Graham Wing, was built and is maintained out of a special fund bequeathed by the late James Graham Esqrc. of this island. In it are four small wards for patients of better class, or whom those in reduced circumstances are admitted free, and for others a charge of 4s 2d per day, or less according to circumstances is made.

“In the general hospital, paupers and most labourers may be admitted free. From those few whose circumstances justify a small charge, a fee of 1s or 2s per day is demanded. The conditions most commonly treated are hookwork disease and the later ulcerations and bone disease of yaws (tertiary syphillis).

“The operating room, in the Graham Wing, is simply but sufficiently equipped for aseptic surgery. A large amount of surgical work is done compared with other West Indian Hospitals and in proportion to the population of the colony.”

We apologise for our error and regret any embarrassment, confusion or discomfort this may have caused relatives of the persons in the photograph or our readers in general. We are thankful to Miss Anderson for assisting us with our research and encourage other readers to contact us at [email protected] should they have information pertaining to any of the photographs we publish in this series, or just to give us general feedback.