Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide
The Adelaide Children's Hospital

WCHN History

The Adelaide Children's Hospital

Poor quality of life and premature death for destitute and poor children were two reasons for the establishment of the Adelaide Children's Hospital in 1876. In the same year the newly formed Health Board began investigating the reasons for such a high number of sick children in the colony. The Board determined that a hospital for children was desperately needed, land was secured in North Adelaide (the current site of the WCH) for the sum of £2,500 and the Foundation stone was laid on June 20 1878. 

After a fanfare of trumpets the Hospital was declared open by Lady Jervois, wife of the Governor of SA and hospital patroness. The first in-patient was admitted that day and in less than two months 36 patients had been admitted. By the end of the first year the 'little charity hospital for the poor' had five nurses and 168 admissions which did not include children under the age of two as at this stage they were not accepted for admission. Currently some 19,000 children are admitted to the present day WCH annually, not counting the 5000 children born annually in the hospital.

By 1893 the hospital had appointed South Australia's first female medical school graduate Dr Laara Fowler and four years later the first laboratory was built hearalding in the beginnings of the hospital’s strong participation into paediatric WCH page link iconresearch and development. Research began in earnest in 1964 with one floor of the Rieger Building being occupied by the University of Adelaide Department of Paediatrics.

The atmosphere of the hospital changed enormously during the second half of the century. Until 1955 parents were able to visit their children only on two days each week and it was not until the 1970s that the way was open for parents to become closely involved in the care and comfort of their hospitalised children.

The Adelaide Children's Hospital from Sir Edwin Smith Avenue, about 1880

last modified: 23 Aug 2018