Although the Placentia Health Centre is a relatively recent addition to the landscape of the Placentia area, it emerges from a long history of healthcare. Undoubtedly, it reflects an enduring heritage of health.
In Early Years
As early as 1698, there was apparently a hospital located in Placentia near a lime kiln used for the construction of forts and fortifications such as Fort Louis. As the years progressed, Placentia was ceded to the British from the French in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht. It is possible that, at this time, the military continued to provide medical services. However, as more people settled in the Placentia area and on the Islands of Placentia Bay, health became a personal or community responsibility.
Thus, around Placentia Bay, care and maintenance of health was approached using a mixture of beliefs, home remedies and knowledge derived from past experience. This art and skill of healing was often equal to what the medical profession would offer years and decades later in hospitals. Certain people within the community would have been regularly called upon to provide medical assistance for injuries, birth, death and so on.
Nevertheless, more needed to be done. Hence, it was the Commission of Government who, having taken office from 1934 to 1949, recognised the need for a greater investment in healthcare. Charged with reviving the ailing economy of the Dominion of Newfoundland, one of the initiatives of the Commission of Government was intended to rectify health inequities across the island.
Era of the Cottage Hospitals
While one of the first cottage hospitals was situated in Argentia, because of the resettlement of the community in order to make space for the U.S. Military Base, the hospital was moved to Placentia. By 1949, thirteen of the eighteen hospitals were built. These included hospitals in Old Perlican, Markland, Burgeo, Harbour Breton, Come By Chance, Stephenville Crossing, Bonavista, Norris Point, Grand Bank, Placentia, Brookfield, Gander and Botwood.
Photograph of MV Lady Anderson (Source: https://www.communitystories.ca/v2/away-from-here_loin-d-ici/story/the-lady-anderson/)
Under the Commission of Government, nursing stations were also dotted around Newfoundland and Labrador. Along with the cottage hospitals, hospital ships provided floating clinics. For instance, the M.V. Lady Anderson serviced close to 75 settlements along the southwest coast of Newfoundland. Afterwards, it plied the waters of Placentia Bay where it was also used to transport patients to and fro the Placentia Cottage Hospital. Since the early 1940s, the Placentia cottage hospital remained as a sentinel in the heritage of health for the Placentia area. However, change was on the horizon.
In Modern Times
In April of 1986, the Lions Manor Nursing Home opened its doors. Ten years afterwards, the heritage of health in the Placentia area continued to evolve when the Placentia Health Centre was built. And then, two years later in October of 1998, the bricks and mortar of the old Cottage Hospital were taken down. Nonetheless, its memory has remained safely housed in the touching stories of residents. These memories and stories are securely and uniquely braided around this vital part of the Placentia area landscape.
Without question, the heritage of health in the Placentia area is deep and interesting, one firmly etched into its identity. And from the 17thcentury to the present, the investment of health remains an integral part of the landscape.