Red Cross Outpost Hospitals

In 1920, the first Red Cross Outpost Hospital in the British Empire was built at Paddockwood, Saskatchewan. This post-World War I Red Cross program served small, remote communities (often soldier-settlement areas) unable to afford municipal hospitals. Built and maintained by the communities, these hospitals were staffed and supplied by the Red Cross. This successful partnership led to a total of twenty-four outposts in Saskatchewan, over 200 across Canada, and more around the world. A “Nurse-in-Charge,” not a resident doctor, managed each hospital and lived in the community full-time. With the nearest doctor typically thirty or more miles away, Charge Nurses delivered babies, stitched wounds, administered medicine, set bones, treated fevers, gave vaccinations, and offered practical medical advice. Often forced by circumstance to make diagnoses and prescribe treatment in a doctor’s stead, these nurses worked admirably outside the bounds of accepted nursing practice. The Red Cross name and flag gave instant recognition, and promoted trust for people of all nationalities. By 1946, over 37,000 inpatients and 27,000 outpatients had been treated in Saskatchewan outposts, with 8,800 births recorded. Over the years, as communities matured and transportation improved, each hospital was turned over to community management or closed. Saskatchewan’s Red Cross Outpost Hospitals included, in order of establishment: Paddockwood, Carragana, Bengough, Eastend, Cutknife, Meadow Lake, Willow Bunch, Kelvington, Big River, Lucky Lake, Broderick, Wood Mountain, Bracken, Nipawin, Tuberose, Rabbit Lake, Rockglen, Loon Lake, Endeavour, Pierceland, Leoville, Hudson Bay Junction, Arborfield, and Buffalo Narrows.

Merle Massie