50-Bed La Verendrye Hospital Opens It’s Doors to Public Today

Fort Frances Times and Rainy Lake Herald

LaVerendrye Hospital stands as an imposing monument to the early French-Canadian explorer, Pierre Gautier de Varennes, Sieur de LaVerendrye, as a symbol of the faith which the Sisters of Charity, Order of Grey Nuns, has in the future of our town.

For LaVerendrye Hospital, rising prominently in clear view of the Rainy River where LaVerendyre passed by on his way to the west, is most modern from the ground floor where mechanical equipment replaces gruelling and wearisome hand labour to the penthouse atop the building where members of the Order may work quietly in the cooling breezes off the river.

The three-story building, set back 200 feet off Victoria Ave. and south of Sinclair Se., is a far cyr from the early post which LaVerendyre established here in 1731, but it represents the same vision which led the noted explorer to embark on his journey to the “Western Sea.”

The $150,000 structure contains accommodations for 50 patients.

The hospital possesses a beautiful location and when the grounds are landscaped, as they will be in the near future, it will add greatly to the aesthetic as well as to the material being of the town. Although the hospital is adjacent to St. Mary’s Chruch, ST. Mary’s Rectory, and Sisters of the Mission, Sinclair Street divides it from these buildings, and permits it to rise majestically by itself, a separate entity where people of all creeds may seek safety from disease and be nursed back to health.

An unusual feature of the hospital’s location is that it is set on the inside rather than on the outside of the circular driveway. The driveway follows Sinclair Street, circles the rear of the hospital, where provisions have been made for parking cars.

The centre walk leads to the imposing entrance reached by a flight of steps and flanked by fluted columns reaching the third floor, where a small balcony adjoins the chapel.

The First Floor

The rotunda, it’s terraza floor finished in an intricate design, is a pleasant room in which visitors and patients are greeted by the information clerk and secretary. To the right and connected to the rotunda are two small visitors’ parlors, and to the left, where the information booth is situated, is the hospital office of Mother Superior, who will direct the hospital affairs.

Four private rooms and six semi-private rooms, totalling 16 beds, are found on this floor. In the south wing, there are two private wards, each with a closet and private lavatory and with a joint bath between, and three semi private wards. There will be two beds in each of these rooms. In the wing will also be found a surgical dressing room, linen closets, and a utility room where soiled linen chutes, sterilizer for bed pans, and other equipment are located.
Across from the rotunda is the elevator lobby and stairway.

The north wing also contains two private wards and three semi- private, with their 8 beds. In addition there is a servery, where hot drinks and in-between snacks can be prepared, a linen closet and lavatory ward for patients. All meals will be prepared in the ground floor kitchen and the trays brought upstairs on a small rubber tired serving truck.

The Second Floor

The public wards are located on the second floor, with a majority of the rooms being on the Victoria Ave. side of the building. There are three two-bed wards, three three-bed wards, one which will contain four beds but could hold more, one will have two and could have three if needed, and two private rooms. In addition, on the east side, there will be a nursery for infants, a utility room, linen closets, and servery comparable to those on the first floor, an isolation ward and children’s ward. The children’s ward will take five beds. Although no contagious cases will be accepted by the hospital, it was found advisable to include in case and contagious case should develop in the hospital, or that a patient be brought into the hospital with an illness later diagnosed as of a contagious character.
The third floor of the hospital contains no wards, as it is divided between living quarters for the Nursing Sisters and the surgical and treatment wing.

In the center, facing Victoria Ave., is the beautiful, small chapel in which the Sisters worship. its stained glass windows, its nicely apportioned pews and serene chancel provide a fitting reminder that LaVerendrye, in his travels, was accompanied by the Jesuit Order and although he worshipped among the beauties of nature, he worshipped the same god.

The Sisters’ wing includes six bedrooms, accommodating ten Nursing Sisters and a community room.

Surgical Wing

The surgical has been designed for smooth, efficient service in which every precaution is taken to safeguard the health of the patients.

As one enters the wing, on his right is small laboratory which will be used by doctors and nurses in taking blood counts, for blood transfusions, for testing tissues and a host of other tissues of which the patient is hardly aware. Next to it is the x-ray room, which has a small darkroom in which the plates are developed. The x-ray machine is a very up-to-date one, and larger than the Order had intended purchasing. The table is adjustable to any position. There is a separate unit for chest examination.

Across from the laboratory and x-ray rooms are case rooms and pharmacy. The case room, for maternity cases, is another well equipped room which is spotless. All equipment and cabinets are finished in white.

The surgical unit is complete by itself, separted from the rest of the building by glass doors. The rooms are planned so that everything converges on the operating room, located in the southeast corner. To the left of the operating room is the doctor’s room, where he may wait and scrub up for his operation. The faucets on the sinks are controlled by foot pedals so that there can be no chance of infection from handling metals.

To the right of the operating room is the sterilizer and nurses’ work rooms. In these work rooms, the nurses will prepare dressing and other materials to be used in the operation, and then take them into the adjoining sterilizer room. From there they go directly to the operating room. These rooms have been deigned to provide the very best of conditions for both doctors and nurses.

Just off the elevator is a small autopsy room and mortuary with a cooler. While new in small hospitals, this feature is found in all the larger hospitals and is much appreciated by member of the medical profession, funeral directors, and relatives of the deceased who may live some distance away.

The ground floor of the hospital which is set less than two feet below ground level, contains the service departments and nurses and maids quarters. Ambulance cases will be handled on this floor, with a ramp leading from the rear entrance directly to the elevator.

In the north wing is located the boiler room, with a room for the caretaker. Then, off this, is the kitchen. It is a spacious, commodious room, equipped with modern, labour saving devices. Two built in refrigerators, one for meats, the other for vegetables, are within handy reach of the worktables and stoves, and the up-to-date kitchen cabinets will make more than one housewife envious. Provisions are brought in directly through a side entrance. A separate dishwashing room, in which all dishes used in the hospital will be sterilized, is located just off the kitchen, while adjacent are separate dining rooms for the Sisters, nurses and maids.

Back of the dining-rooms are a number of small storerooms.

The south wing of the ground floor contains a modern laundry and then, cut off from the rest of the building by glass doors, are two rooms for maids and three for nurses, and a small parlor for their use. Built-in closets line the corridor.

The building, 113 feet long and 42 feet wide was erected in north-south direction, that the rooms may receive the maximum amount of sunlight, and this has been made use of in a remarkable manner. Clear white plaster ceiling walls, with a white tile base and a terraza floor, reflect the spotless character of all rooms. Window sills, for sanitary purposes are of marble. Each ward room has a built-in closet, for the patients use, with all woodwork of birch, except in the nurses’ and Sisters’ rooms where it is of fir. Doors in the ward room contain one small pane of glass, and above each room is a small, pale green light by which patients will summon the nurse on duty. Reflections from the pale light will not shine into adjoining rooms.

On the first and second floors, there is a chart desk where the records of each patient on the floor are kept, and where the nurse can be reached through the telephone operating system. According to plans, a Nursing Sister will have charge of each floor, while graduate nurses and assistants also will be employed and on duty.

Construction of the $120,000 hospital was started on September 21, 1940, when the first sod was turned, with excavation starting on September 23. Because of the character of the soil, only two feet of ground was excavated. General contractors were Couture and Toupin of Winnipeg.

The original cost of the hospital was placed at $100,000 but because of changes demanded by the province, the final costs were placed at $120,000. Of this, the province, through the intercession of Mayor Joseph Parker, of Fort Frances, and the Hon. Peter Heenan, of Kenora, granted $10,000. The town council had previously made erection of the hospital possible concessions given the Order of Grey Nuns through an agreement signed on June 11, and this was overwhelmingly approved by the electors in the municipal election. Provisions of the town grant are as follows:

Grant of the site.
Exemption from taxes.

Free public utilities as follows: Electric current for lighting;electric current for kitchen and laudry; electric current for heating nursery nursery in summer months when hospital is not heated; water service and telephone service, except long distance calls. This has been estimated at costing less than $1,000 per year.