Shortly after eleven o’clock Tuesday morning Mr. Harold Gordon, General Manager of the coal operations for the Dominion Coal Company officially opened the new dressing station at the Springhill collieries which will serve the workmen of the Cumberland Coal Company and their families.
First on Continent
The Dressing Station opened at Springhill Tuesday was the first of its kind in connection with the Coal Industry on the North American Continent. History was in the making.
While such Dressing Stations have been used in connection with the Steel Industry for many years they were never introduced into the coal operations until Mr. A.J. Cross, President of Dosco and the late T.J. McCall, former General Manager of coal operations, decided to introduce them in connection with their operation here.
Dr. J.E. Park in Charge
The new station will be in charge of Dr. J.E. Park of Oxford, who was recently appointed Chairman of Industrial Medicine by the Nova Scotia Medical Association, said Dr. J.G.B. Lynen, of Sydney, Chief Medical Officer of the Corporation, who was present for the opening. He will be assisted by Miss Shirley Grant, R.N., who has extensive experience in this type of work in Cape Breton, and Miss Sylvia McGowan, R.N.
No only will the nurses be on hand at the station to render such services as is required of them, but they will be prepared to go into the homes of the workmen and take care of their families whenever it is necessary.
“Our nurses are particularly well trained for this type of service” said Dr. Lunch to the Record, “And a man who is leaving his wife or sick child at home when he goes to work in the morning will know that she is getting the best of care from the Company Nurse.” The point that Dr. Lynch wished to stress in this connection was that any man wanting the services of the nurses must ask for such service.
Continuing Dr. Lynch pointed out that while two trained nurses were on duty here now, the company is prepared to add one or two more, if their services are required. “I expect to see the demand for nursing service grow extensively in the Community.” Added Dr. Lynch.
While carrying out their distinct nursing services, Dr. Lynch said, the nurses would follow the direction of patient’s own doctors.
Pleased with Co-operation
Miss Shirley Grant told the Record that since the station had begun to handle cases she had done from 140 to 180 dressings per month. She expressed herself as well pleased with the co-operation given her in the homes she had visited by both men and women. “Now that we have another nurse on the staff” said Miss Grant, “We will be able to expand our nursing services.”
Well the dressing station is only a small building it is well laid off and offers many facilities. As you enter the building there is a small waiting room to the left which will seat five or six patients. A small wicket in the wall permits the patient to register with the nurse whose desk is just inside the dressing room which is well furnished and nicely finished in white.
To the right as you enter is the office of Dr. Park. Continuing down the hall which runs to the end of the building another door on the right leads into a room containing a hospital bed, a set of scales and washroom facilities. At the end of the hall is another washroom.
The floor is covered with green battleship linoleum and the contrast presents a very attractive picture.
In the basement is the Orthopedic Room. Here a bicycle is secured to the wall where leg and hip cases will be exercises; a huge wheel for shoulder cases. Later it is planned to add a rowing machine for back exercises. There is a table for massage work.
On the opposite side of the basement there is a large room which will house the Public Relations Department presided over by Dave Morse, Miss Jean McSavaney is his Secretary.
Following the official opening of the McCall Dressing Station, the Company played host to a party of eighteen officials and guest, at Frosty Hollow Inn, in N.B.
Dr. J.B.G. Lynch was toastmaster for the occasion and proposed a toast to “The King” prior to the meal. After a very enjoyable repast the toast continues “To Industry” by Tom Ling, Vice-President of U.M.W. of A., and replied to by H.C.M. Gordon, General Manager of Coal Operations. Dr. Park offered a toast to “Industrial Health”, responded to by Dr. Lynch, in the absence of the Hon. H.R. Davis.
Mr. Ling in his remarks stressed the long-needed necessity of a station and voiced the miners’ approval in such a project.
In response, Mr. Gordon outlined the late Mr. McCall’s hope for such a system years ago and expressed his own whole-hearted support of this first nursing station, of its type in this part of Canada.
Springhill is a testing ground and if the station proves its worth, others will go into effect elsewhere.
The single purpose behind this station is “to do what is best for the men injured in our service.” This service will need close co-operation from Springhill’s medical men, but would in no manner infringe on their practices.
Mr. Gordon concluded with a re-statement of the Company’s Policy.
“That of requiring a square deal from its labor, in return for the same treatment. This new nursing station is an example of such a policy on the Company’s part.”
Dr. Park, in his toast to Industrial Health sketched briefly the ideals and growth of industrial medicine. He also outlined his duties as medical advisor for the station. He explained that he would not be interfering in local medical practices, but that he would merely examine the patients and send them on to their private doctors for necessary treatment.
Dr. Lynch, in his reply, that the nurses work was not confined to the station alone. She was also to aid the miners’ family in their homes whenever her services might be needed. The Company is prepared, he concluded, to enlarge the staff if necessary.
“Whatever nursing services are required will be supplied” “However, Dr. Lynch said “from now on all injuries must be reported to this station before the man leaves the grounds.” With a realization of the diseases to which the miners are exposed, he feels the Company should be permitted to examine its employees regularly, with the view to placing them in jobs more suitable to their health condition.
Mayor A.J. Mason, representing the Town, congratulated the company on the social welfare of its men dependant on this local industry. He felt this step would do much to cement the relationship between the distant management and the Springhill employees.
In further remarks that in the four coal companies, under its control, the Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation has 1300 men on pension. This gratuitous allowance, averaging $47 a month, is further evidence of the company’s good will towards its dependants, he said.
Dr. Murray and Mr. Paul also spoke a few words before the closing remarks of the Chairman.
Just a note of interest: the former Dressing Station is still in use as it has been enlarged and now holds the Isabel Simpson Heritage Centre.
Pat Crowe is a member of the Springhill Heritage Group. To learn more or read past article of the Heritage Corner, visit www.springhillheritage.ca.