History by category: Spanish influenza

Securing financial assistance

In its first three years of operation, Mater Public Hospital provided care to more than 3000 inpatients, without any financial support from the government. The Sisters of Mercy set out to change this situation, and after much work, in June 1913 Mother Patrick Potter secured a £1000 grant for Mater. By 1916, funding for the hospital came from patient fees, donations, government subsidies and community contributions.

The government’s annual £1000 subsidy did not increase, despite the increasing number of patients cared for at Mater. Mother Patrick Potter would again appeal for further funds, and again, she proved successful—securing £2000 to support patient care at Mater.

This funding would be stretched by the Spanish influenza, which would result in St Laurence’s School (adjacent to Mater) becoming a special flu hospital to help cater for the outbreak. Only three of Mater’s trainee nurses avoided the illness, which took a significant toll on staff, but also finances. Some relief came in 1920, when the State Labor Government announced that Mater Public Hospital would receive part proceeds from the Government’s Golden Casket Art Union on the same basis as other public hospitals.

In the midst of the Spanish Flu epidemic, Queensland’s first hospital laboratory was established at Mater by Dr J. Duhig and Sr Mary Chanel England. During the 1920s, the laboratory was essential in aiding diagnoses of many conditions, prompting Sr Mary Chanel to highlight the importance of scientific work saying that while it is ‘costly and shows no immediate cash return’, medical science is worthy of ‘generous endowment.’

Tags: Mother Patrick Potter, Spanish influenza