Burwood Hospital

In 1902 a Lyttelton doctor diagnosed a man with the plague and this was confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health for New Zealand. An agitated public demanded that he be sent to Quail Island or further afield. The doctors didn’t know where to send him, but eventually he, along with a few other "suspect" cases were sent out to a hastily constructed shanty town in the sandhills at Burwood. They all recovered and on leaving were replaced by a few Tubercular Boer War veterans. This was the beginning of Burwood Hospital.

For many years Burwood Hospital consisted of galvanised iron huts surrounded by wire fences Visitors had to remain outside the fence and gifts and food they had brought had to be handed over on long poles. Conversations consisted of shouting to one another.

Burwood Hospital has been known by a number of names: Tipperary Place, The Fever Hospital, The Infectious Disease Hospital and Bottle Lake Hospital.

In 1918, during the great epidemic, Diptheria patients from the Public Hospital went to Burwood, thus leaving the Public Hospital to cope with the great influx of epidemic victims.

In 1942 authorities chose Burwood Hospital for New Zealand’s first plastic surgery unit. It was fully operational in 1943 and is the only plastic surgery unit in the South Island. 1979 saw the opening of the spinal unit.

Burwood Hospital’s focus is now as a rehabilitation hospital with three surgical theatres, a spinal unit and a plastic surgery unit.


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