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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
Good Works: Sainte Thérèse Hospital
Life on the prairies in the early 20th century was a harsh existence. Without a hospital, an epidemic of influenza or other illness could tear through a community, devastating local populations. By 1916, Father Thérien, the local parish priest, had identified the urgent need for additional doctors and a hospital in the St-Paul-des-Métis region. He had earlier been able to secure the services of Dr. J.P. Charlebois, who dispensed medical services from 1907 to 1925. The first ambulance in St-Paul-des-Métis was a horse-drawn wagon, and like other physicians on the prairie frontier, Dr. Charlebois provided house calls, often travelling by foot or on horseback. In St-Paul-des-Métis, the needs of the community quickly grew too large for one physician. In 1910, Dr. Charlebois was joined by Dr. Gagnon, in an attempt to expand medical care in the area. A deadly outbreak of influenza in 1918 reinforced the urgent need for increased medical services, and plans for a hospital were put into motion.
For assistance in building his hospital, Father Thérien looked to a religious order known for its success in establishing hospitals in developing colonies—the Grey Nuns. In 1922, Mother Dugas, General of the Order, agreed to help build and staff the new facility, to be named Hôpital Sainte Thérèse. Arguments over the operation of the hospital and unforeseen difficulties during the construction process delayed the opening of the hospital for another six years. By this time, Father Larose had assumed his position as parish priest. Finally, in August of 1928, Archbishop O’Leary presided over the official opening of the hospital and by 1930, Hôpital Sainte Thérèse had a capacity of 60 beds. The hospital is still in operation in St. Paul today.
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