Let me introduce you to SMH’s first Director of Nursing. Marion Carlton joined the hospital in 1954 and watched the then new hospital being built and opened in 1964. Moving into the new hospital coincided with Marion being named its first Director of Nursing. What struck Marion so much was the amount of space they had in the new building. Leading up to the move SMH experienced 365 births per year “a baby a day.” The old building only had one birthing room and so if there were more than one birth per day, which was often the case she said they kept the newborns in clothes baskets because they didn’t have enough cribs. My sister-in-law Betty Ann Duggan was one such person as she and 8 others were born during the same few days and so it must have been really crowded. Plus, in those days new Moms stayed for 5 to 7 days after giving birth.
Mrs. Carlton remembers fondly how she used to get some physicians upset by calling them in a little early in the middle of the night or during their office hours for a pending birth, only to have the labour take longer than expected. She laughs “I didn’t care if they were upset with me as long as there was a doctor there for the birth.”
One interesting fact is that in the original hospital there was no emergency department and emergencies were handled in the hallway. In moving to the new hospital, they were blessed with a number of new emergency beds. In addition, since she was Director she was now responsible for all the hiring of new staff as many more were required by the expanded facility. Another of her first tasks as Director was to establish orientation for new staff, something never done previously.
One of her biggest challenges as Director was that during a number of years in the 1960s five local physicians died; two being elderly and three tragically, and all integral to the functioning of the Hospital. That impact was tremendous because not only did they have to deal with the trauma of losing doctors they loved; they also lost all their collective experience in a short time-span.
Marion served under many Board members whose names are very familiar to the community such as McCague, Whiteside, Mallion, Brett, Rowe and Lewis to name a few. In fact; she so impressed the Board that she was offered the position of Hospital Administrator (now called CEO) and held that position for two years before she retired.
Marion Carlton presently lives in Bracebridge overlooking the stunning Bracebridge Falls, and while a lot of water has gone through the river of her life, she says she still has more to give and helps out with local seniors. Her husband Don owned Carlton Bakery in town and when he retired they took his brick oven down brick-by-brick and erected it at the Globe Restaurant in Rosemont. She misses “John” dearly.
During her tenure she stressed compassionate medical care and she can take pride in knowing that the present SMH Birthing Unit has experienced 100% Patient Satisfaction ratings since 2007, a legacy she had a compassionate hand in creating. She’ll be looking forward to hearing how the present staff react to their redeveloped hospital more than 55 years later. Please help to make it a reality, by donating today. Let’s make Marion Carlton proud.
Dr. Ted Vandevis – Strategic Advisor of the Because of you, we can Campaign
For more information:
Stevenson Memorial Hospital Foundation