Iconic McCord Hospital features in new book

McCord’s dispensary in Beatrice Street (CC, MHP, uncatalogued photographs). Used with permission of Campbell Collections.

DURBAN’s iconic 109-year old former mission hospital, McCord, is the subject of a carefully-documented, thoroughly-researched, and highly readable book which will be available in print and download format from next month.

The People’s Hospital: A History of McCords, Durban, 1890s-1970s is written by Julie Parle and Vanessa Noble and published by the Natal Society Foundation Trust.

In recent years a provincially-run specialist eye hospital, McCord Hospital was founded in 1909 by missionaries Dr James McCord and his wife Margaret. It became one of the three most important hospitals in South Africa. For 100 years it was globally recognised as providing principled, quality, holistic, affordable health-care.

Dr Mehlomakulu (left) with other doctors and a sister on a ward round at McCord Hospital. Used with permission of Campbell Collections.

The McCords worked for the American Board of Missions. They had come to South Africa to work at Adams Mission, Amanzimtoti, in 1899. In 1904 they moved to Durban and established a dispensary and cottage hospital in Beatrice Street.

Katie Makanya worked with them as interpreter, cultural broker and nursing assistant. There they performed operations, dispensed medicine and spread the Christian faith.

ALSO READ: End of an era for McCord

Defying opposition from some local residents, they opened a hospital on the crest of the Berea in 1909. Although it was popularly known as ‘McCord Zulu Hospital’, and strongly supported by people such as Rev. Dr. John L Dube and Chief Albert Luthuli, this was never a hospital only ‘for Zulus’.

Instead, it became a meeting place of many peoples, faiths, and political persuasions.

McCords nurses, 1920s or early 1930s (CC, MHP, uncatalogued photographs). Used with permission of Campbell Collections.

McCord Hospital played a vital role in opening professional midwifery, nursing and medical training for black South Africans. Amongst the names of pioneering nurses were Beatrice Gcabashe (née Msimang) from many prominent families – Buthelezi, Funeka, Goba, Linda, Luthuli, Mageba, Moonsamy, Nayiager, (amongst very many others). Dr McCord, and superintendent, Dr Alan Taylor, were instrumental in the establishment of Durban’s Nelson R Mandela Medical School. Notable South Africans, such as Drs J. L Njonkwe, Mary Malahlela, Mahomed Mayat, Krishna Somers, and Zweli Mkhize, to mention only a few, all completed medical training at McCord Hospital.

Situated at the crossroads of Berea, Sydenham and Overport and challenging apartheid and racism daily, McCords was targeted for closure as a ‘black hospital in a white area’ under the Group Areas Act, it was directly attacked by apartheid Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd in the 1960s.

But, McCords fought back and survived. It did so under the leadership of the superintendents Alan Taylor, Howard Christofersen, and Cecil Orchard, and with the support of the under-privileged of Durban, for whom it had become an important family landmark as well as a medical facility.

ALSO READ: McCord Hospital to stay open

McCords survived because apartheid forces did not understand that for several generations and for many communities, McCords was a ‘People’s Hospital’.

This support and identity would help carry it through to the early twenty-first century with the conviction and courage, when necessary, to stand up against the state when its policies threatened the health of all South Africa’s people.

Front cover: McCord Hospital: ward scene, c.1918 (PAR, A608, American Board of Missions Collection, photograph C.5529). Used with permission of the Pietermaritzburg Archives Depot.

Authors Julie Parle and Vanessa Noble recount McCord Hospital’s many important achievements. They also look deeply and critically into the obstacles it faced and the difficult choices that sometimes had to be made. They show that its distinct ‘McCord character’ and the commitment of its staff to health-care left important legacies for the later decades of disease and denialism, with lessons for policy makers and health-care practitioners today.

Their book is both a history of a landmark Durban medical institution and of a rapidly changing South Africa, told through the eyes of those who sought to change it through compassion and commitment to health-care.

Limited printed books will be available at the launch via Adams Books, and, in Pietermaritzburg, from Michelle Bartlett, Ladybean Books, Rosehurst, 239 Boom Street. Pietermaritzburg, 3201. (033 394 3833). After the launch the entire book is available from the NSFT website as a FREE download: www.natalia.org.za/NSF_books/McCordHospital.html

 

 

Do you want to receive news alerts via WhatsApp? Send us a WhatsApp message (not an sms) with your name and surname to 060 532 5535.

You can also join the conversation on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have signed up for our news alerts you need to save the Berea Mail WhatsApp number as a contact to your phone, otherwise you will not receive our alerts

  AUTHOR
Berea Mail

Latest News

COMMENTS

Top
Recommended Story x
Vernac literature gets a boost

Thanks for your referral. We have no doubt your friends will love our newsletter as much as you!

Don't forget to verify your email.

to our FREE newsletter
SUBSCRIBE to our FREE newsletter.




SELECT your titles:

Berea Mail
Highway Mail
Northglen News


Get regular news updates sent directly to your inbox.

Your source of local breaking news and trending stories from across the country.

Be a part of our growing community

1MILFacebook Fans
98KTwitter Followers
5MILMonthly Readers
12MILArticles Published Every Month
72Local Community Websites

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE newsletter

SELECT your titles:

Berea Mail
Highway Mail
Northglen News

Get regular news updates sent directly to you inbox.

Your source of local breaking news and trending stories from across the country.

Be a part of our growing community

Subscribe Here
1MILFacebook Fans
98KTwitter Followers
5MILMonthly Readers
12MILArticles Published Every Month
72Local Community Websites
Your details:


Your friends: