Kojonup celebrates the local hospital’s centenary and its treasured staff

Headshot of Georgia Campion
Georgia CampionGreat Southern Herald
Kojonup Hospital in 1922.
Camera IconKojonup Hospital in 1922. Credit: Kojonup Historical Society

Kojonup Hospital is celebrating its centenary, 100 years after it was built, to strengthen the area’s healthcare facilities and reduce its reliance on the already-established Katanning Hospital.

Organised by the Kojonup Historical Society, the celebration runs from April 17-30.

The history-heavy building has provided healthcare to Kojonup and its surrounding towns since 1923.

Before the construction of the hospital, the town had its healthcare needs serviced by the Katanning Hospital, and Dr George Baker began practising in 1912.

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The hospital was initially built as a cottage and was backed by fundraising activities organised by the hospital committee for over a decade.

Dr Keith Abernathy was the first resident doctor of Kojonup Hospital and held the position for 37 years.

The hospital has since seen many patients walk through its doors and babies born, the first being Marjory Matthews in 1923.

The region quickly outgrew the available services the hospital required, and in 1924 funding was requested for an isolation ward for Indigenous patients and a new maternity ward.

The request for an Indigenous isolation ward was never fulfilled as such matters fell to the then-Chief Protector of Aborigines.

Funding problems have continuously plagued the hospital as the region continues outgrowing services.

Other problems included water sourcing which was solved in 1963 when the town was connected to the Katanning waterways.

Before nationalising Australia’s health in the 70s and 80s, Kojonup Hospital relied heavily on local fundraising efforts and labour.

The Kojonup Historical Society will hold a display feature in the hospital’s north wing, exhibiting a restored operating table, gurney and a mangle.

Sussane Bilney, head of the Kojonup Historical Society, will organise the centenary celebration. It will pay respects to the doctors, nurses, and staff who made the vital regional health service operation possible.

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