Last Trip: The Death of Alfred Bonenfant / 19: The Hospital
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St. Luke's hospital was established in 1898 with 252 beds. It advertised itself as "non-sectarian" and "open to all classes".


St. Lukes Hospital, Frank & Elgin Streets, Ottawa, Ont. (Canada. Dept. of Mines & Technical Surveys / Library and Archives Canada / PA-034020).

Last Trip: The Death of Alfred Bonenfant / 20

The Hospital

Why didn't George Boivin simply drive Alfred Bonenfant to a hospital? One possible deterrent was religion and another was cost.

In Ottawa as in other places hospitals began as religious charities and in 1908 medical services continued to be divided along religious lines. One of Ottawa's largest hospitals was the Carleton County Protestant hospital. On the other hand St. Luke's hospital**, established in 1898, advertised itself as "non-sectarian and open to all classes."

St. Luke's had public wards which admitted patients who could not afford to pay for treatment but this gave these wards the stigma of poverty. Public ward patients, if they were able-bodied, were expected to serve as volunteer orderlies.

Public ward patients who could afford to pay were assessed charges based on means, usually a dollar a week. More prosperous patients could choose a bed in a private or semi-private ward depending on how much they wanted to pay but if they defaulted on their bills they were quickly moved to the public ward.

If cost and religious considerations did not dissuade Boivin there was also the frightening reputation of hospitals generally.

Hospitals were often seen as a last resort and even as a place where patients went to die. Most people, rich or poor, preferred to be treated in the safety of their own homes by a visiting doctor whom they knew and trusted.

** Charter of incorporation and by-laws of St. Luke's General Hospital, Ottawa, 1899, pp. 31-33.

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