Page 19 - Dr. Austin MacDonald: How We Got the Hospital Down North
ISSUE : Issue 40
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/8/1
I'The ambulance built by Frank Dowling, now at I the North Highlands Community Museum, Cape Northj (Tell me about the ambulance.) When we got a cottage hospital, I realized we had to have some means to transport a person that might have to be looked after in hospital. In the wintertime. Because there were no motor vehicles could be used. Anyway, Frank Dowling, who lived in Neil's Harbour and was a very fine carpentet--I went to see him one day, and I told him what I had in mind. And Frank set his mind to work on it. And he came up with the idea of a sleigh with light bobsleds underneath. See, the roads were only broken for single- horse travel. You couldn't use a team on them or the horses would punch through the snow on both sides. So you had to use sin? gle horses. And he could make the box of beaverboard, some very light board at that time. Could put ventilators fore and aft, a sliding panel above that you could close it. And we could put lots of robes and clothing underneath, hot water bottles. (Marie: A layer of hay or straw was put in first, and then your blankets on top. That gave you your insulation.) We would have people between Bay St. Lawrence and Cape North ready to change horses, change water bottles and everything. We could take a pa? tient from Meat Cove to Neil's Harbour in 2% hours, you know. And in the relatively few times we had to use that vehicle, it worked extremely well. And I'm sure it was responsible for saving quite a significant number of lives. Frank Dowling built this. The whole thing. Everything. He took it down to Alex Macls- aac, I think it was, who put the ironwork on the sleigh. It suited our purpose and did the job we wanted to do. And was light enough for one horse to pull. We knew the people that had good strong horses, horses that could move at a good clip for 5, 6, miles. You didn't push a horse any further than that. You didn't want a dead horse and a dead patient in the road some place. We paid for the wood, the materials. And Frank donated his skill and his time and everything. He did it for nothing, as far as he was concerned. (Would people use the cottage hospital as a place to stay for the winter?) No. They had to pay for it. There was no such prob? lem in the world until the government started paying for stuff. They paid a day rate. For the first 5 years it was $2.50 a day. That covered food and board. They would have to pay whatever was the cost of medications. That was it. The facility was there, for anybody to use it. Now, there were people that couldn't even pay the $2.50 a day. So the county eventually paid for them. Victoria County was good like that. I think they always paid eventually, paid the bill. See, we had a hospital going 5 years be? fore they had one in Baddeck. And this was CHOW Van f00 Enjoy sumptuous Oriental and Canadian Cuisine in a relaxed and elegant dining atmosphere Daily Luncheon Specials i Banquet Facilities Available Take Out Orders Delivered Fully Licensed OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK Major Credit Cards Accepted Gift Certificates Available Ample Parking 460 Grand Lake Rd., Sydney 562-0088 or 539-2825 (19)
Cape Breton's Magazine