Chesham Cottage hospital
In the early 1940’s I worked as a nurse in Chesham Cottage Hospital. The children’s ward was small and equipped for 5 children. There were 3 medium-sized iron bedsteads and two iron cots with rails all round. At the side of the room was a door into a small room which had one lavatory, a small square glazed stone sink and draining-board on which stood a small tin bath in which we very occasionally bathed a small infant.
No visitors were allowed into the ward as it was considered too upsetting for the children. But Mums and Dads could look through the glass window in the kitchen door which led into the ward. Children were admitted between the ages of two to 14 years. They would be suffering from any of the following – bronchitis, pneumonia, feeding problems, burns or scalds. Operations were carried out for tonsillectomies, circumcision and other minor disabilities.
Each morning at 8am breakfast was given out, after which all children were ‘potted’ or taken out to the toilet. This was followed by a ‘bed bath’ when each child was fully washed and the bed made fresh and clean and that is where the children had to stay.
A nurse would be in the ward and would read to them or help them to draw. There was also a large rocking horse in front of the window and occasionally the nurse would be allowed to give a child a ride.
Lunch was at 12 noon. In the afternoon all children were settled quietly until 4pm tea-time after which a wash and settled for the night at 6pm. No television or wireless in those days.
Most children were very good and their stay unless they were very ill was anything between 1 and three weeks and they were very happy when their Mums came to take them home.