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Royal Melbourne Hospital

Melbourne's first public hospital was founded in 1846 and opened in 1848. Originally a charity for the poor, along the lines of a British voluntary hospital, it was financed by its subscribers and donors. Located in Lonsdale Street between Russell and Swanston streets, it was rebuilt in 1912-14 (to the design of architect J.J. Clark), with funding from the Edward Wilson Estate. The new hospital, on the present Parkville site, was opened in 1940 but used by US armed forces as a military hospital until 1944. For many years Melbourne's most prestigious hospital, positions as honorary surgeons and physicians were keenly sought (an election system by subscribers operated until 1912). A general hospital, it covered all fields but maternity services and paediatrics. It prided itself for most of its history on not refusing to take a patient. It had close links with the Medical School of the University of Melbourne, and later with medical research institutes such as the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the Ludwig Institute. The hospital boasted a fine nursing tradition, owing much to the leadership of Jane Bell, lady superintendent from 1910 to 1934. Some of Melbourne's most famous doctors have been associated with the hospital, which received widespread community support through committee service, auxiliary work and donations. While serving Melbourne generally, it has mainly taken patients from the western and northern suburbs, as well as difficult cases from country areas. Once a hospital of over 700 beds, today it has 400 beds. On 1 August 1995, the board of management was dissolved and the hospital became part of the Western Health Care Network.

Alan Gregory

Gregory, Alan, The ever open door: a history of the Royal Melbourne Hospital 1848-1998, Hyland House, Melbourne, 1998. Details
Inglis, K.S., Hospital and community: a history of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1958. Details