Silverstream Hospital was on the hill to the right as you came into the Upper Hutt Valley. It had been built during the war. The US Navy was stationed there. When I worked there in the mid seventies, It was a shadow of it’s former self. Run down and sad. It was a geriatric hospital, patients were mostly bedridden. The only way out for them was in a coffin.
I worked there for about six months in the kitchen. It was a good job. I lived in one of only 3 women to do so and had a huge dorm practically all to my self. The food was brilliant, my love of puddings particularly rice pudding can be traced to those days. Even now if I am recovering from illness or need some comfort food, I make it.
It must have been some place in it’s glory days, with a pool and parties but when I lived there it was pretty quiet. Some of the stories I heard, like the time when a new staff member was taken down to the morgue, another staff member snuck in first and when she walked in a body sat up. Apparently she didn’t stop running until she was well off the hill.
Another was when a patient died the new orderly was told to remove the body. It was visiting hours. He didn’t know how to do it and looked around for help. He saw an oxygen trolley and stood the body on that and wheeled him out. Caused quite a commotion. No idea if it was true and certainly not very dignified for the deceased if it was.
My favourite story was about the elderly doctor who lived on site. He was called to the ward in the early hours to see a patient. He came over in his dressing gown and slippers. There was a new nurse on duty. He said I am the doctor. Of course you are dear, she replied but you need to go back to bed. The more he said he was the doctor, the more determined she was to get the ‘ patient” back to bed. Fortunately another staff member came along and explained that he really was the doctor.
One day after I had come back from my brothers wedding, my friend Wendy brought in a tape. We all gathered round the machine. It was her boyfriend’s band. The lead singer was stunning. Who is that I asked and does he have a girl friend. That is Ben she said and no he doesn’t.
Just hearing his voice made me determined to change that.
© Barbara Hart 2014