COLUMN: Carillon Flashback – May 23, 1952 – Bethesda Hospital grows along with the community


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The Bethesda Hospital, because of its location in Steinbach, serves the most densely populated, and perhaps the fastest growing, area in southeastern Manitoba.

It was first built as a 23 bed hospital in 1936, to replace a maternity hospital opened by the Vogt family a decade after the 1919 flu epidemic.

Because of a concern about the lack of help for the sick, the Mennonite Society for the Aid to the Sick was formed in 1930. The Society was a mission work by the Mennonites of the East Reserve and all Mennonite Churches participated.

The Society was dedicated to the support of the Vogt Hospital but had the intention of building a new hospital when the opportunity and economic possibility would present itself.

In 1935 the Society elected a board of directors including chairman P.F. Barkman and plans for construction of Bethesda Hospital were launched.

The first Bethesda Hospital operated by the Society had to be enlarged in 1949 to meet the demand for hospital service in a growing community.

Like the hospital in Vita, it was not built as a municipal hospital, but was built, and is still being operated, by the churches in the Steinbach area, including Kleefeld, Greenland, Blumenort, Chortitz and Grunthal, as well as Steinbach.

A very active Bethesda Ladies Aid, operating in the same area, is doing a wonderful job helping to supply linens, bandage material and other articles. Once a week, some Ladies Aid members help out at the hospital as volunteers.

Four doctors (Whetter, Hodgson, Friesen and Klar) serve the hospital, and patients come to see them from far and wide. The Bethesda Hospital staff consists of five registered nurses, eight practical nurses, and nine workers, including orderlies, laundry and kitchen staff.

There are also an X-ray technician, an engineer, two office workers and a custodian at Bethesda.

The hospital has 40 beds, 16 bassinets and a modern operating room.

Last year (1951) there were 1,403 admissions to the hospital; 323 babies first saw the light of day, and 23 people drew their last breath there. There were 113 major operations and 532 minor operations performed.

These conclusive figures readily explain the need for the hospital, and its well-trained, cheerful staff.

Bethesda Hospital is also home for the offices of the Red River Health Unit, which involves preventative health programs in five adjoining municipalities.

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