80 Hampden Road
Before this maternity hospital opened in 1908, babies were normally born at home. There was no formal training and anyone could set up as a midwife. By the end of the 19th century, there was increasing concern about incompetent midwives and high mortality rates of both mothers and babies.
In 1901, Tasmania was the first state to introduce midwifery examination and registration and there were increasing calls for a maternity hospital in Hobart.
The Queen Alexandra Hospital offered the only midwifery training in Hobart for many years and catered for both private and public patients, with an average hospital stay of 15 days.
At first it refused to admit single women. The Queen Alex also operated a district nursing service catering for home deliveries and providing both prenatal and postnatal visits. Within a few years of the hospital opening, the clean sanitised environment, care and bed rest led to a dramatic decrease in maternal and infant mortality. This marked a shift to more professional medical standards and also the beginning of medical and official intervention in childbirth and child rearing, which has at times been controversial.
The hospital was never large enough to meet demand and there were many additions over the years. Centralisation of services resulted in the transfer of the Queen Alexandra to the Royal Hobart Hospital site in August 1980. Since then, the buildings have been used as a centre for voluntary health and welfare organisations, and now for luxury apartment accommodation.
Because I was the only girl, I stayed at Nan’s and Pa’s when Mum went to hospital (to have a baby). But dad came and got me – it was at night because I don’t think kids were allowed in there. …
But mum was on the veranda in that ward they had there. Mum brought Sonia, my sister, up to the window and dad lifted me up under the arms to see my little sister. That I do remember.
[Years later, Jan had her child in the same hospital.]
The matron was very hard. She was strict – a rule was a rule. ‘You walk 20 times up and down the hall every hour on the hour!’ She had me terrified…
– Jan Scott talking about her childhood in the 1950s