From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall

From The Scrapbook

1995 February

Hazel Grieve – Nurse

On December 28, 1994 I went to visit my friend, Hazel Grieve. Hazel will have celebrated her 97th birthday before you read this, but her memory is excellent. We talked about her early days of nursing. She trained as a nurse and nursed, in Boston. She came back to Harvey and married and raised her two children, but found time to assist the local doctors, this would be in the middle 40’s when Dr. Inman was in Harvey. If they had a maternity case they would arrange to take Hazel with them and sometimes she would stay with the family for awhile, but if everything was O.K. she would return with the doctor, sometimes by horse drawn vehicles, often times the family would have to get the road plowed in order for the doctor and nurse to arrive. She remembers going up to where Raymond Burrell lived and it took three different types of vehicle to get them to the house. Life was difficult for the country doctor in those days requiring them to send patients to Fredericton, St. Stephen or Saint John. Marshall Robison had to be sent to Saint John with an abscess on his lung, but Nurse Mrs. Winnifred Embleton accompanied him. Sometimes Rosella Little or Mrs. Arthur Mowatt would go on these trips.

Hazel tells of one New Years Eve when a baby was due to arrive, but Dr. Inman wished to go to Fredericton for a New Years Eve Ball and he made arrangements with Dr. MacLean of McAdam to cover for him. Here’s how Hazel tells it. “Well when I went out there, she was having pains, but not very much. So when I thought it was time I tried to call Dr. MacLean. There had been a big storm and the line was broken and I couldn’t get through, so then I had to call Dr. Inman at the Beaverbrook Hotel in Fredericton. When I got him on the line I told him he had to come out here, and between the two of us we delivered a baby, me, I had no uniform on. I had a sweater and skirt and he had his tuxedo on. They had to meet us at the end of the road with horses and then after the baby came Dr. Inman went back to his party and I stayed all night.” 

Such circumstances were very stressful for doctors and so they were not interested in staying in such rural communities very long. The earliest doctor was Dr. Keith for whom Tom Robison built a house now occupied by the Barners. Then followed the two Dougans, father and son, a Dr. Mitchell and Dr. George Inman.

A story in the Daily Gleaner Nov. 7, 1990, outlines the early history of the beginnings of a Hospital when Dr. Inman told some of his neighbors, “You won’t be able to get a doctor to stay in Harvey for any length of time unless you have a Hospital.” The sequence of events culminating in the opening of the Hospital on February 21, 1948 have already been chronicled, and I’m grateful to Maurice Lister for helping me to understand the sequence.

Hazel recalls her early days of working in the Hospital. “There was the private room with one bed in there and another with two beds. Both downstairs. Upstairs there was like a Maternity room and there were three beds in that, and then there were three beds in another room which was just general. If there was an emergency we could put up another bed. Miss Rubens was the supervisor and there was Marie Little. Miss LaRose represented the Supervision by the Red Cross. Work was quite different there. We had to carry everything up and down stairs. There was no dumb waiter at first. We had to carry out trays up and down, babies bottles had to come downstairs to the kitchen to make our formula and then put them in the fridge, and when the babies wanted to be fed, we had to go down to get the bottle, warm it, and take it back up. If we had a heart patient they were kept in bed, we didn’t let them up for ten days. They couldn’t do anything, just lay there. We’d have to wash them and feed them and do everything for them.

At first the staff was the supervisor, Miss Rubens, and then two nurses on in the morning and one in the afternoon and one at night. I worked from 8 o’clock in the morning till 4 p.m., and then again from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. When we worked all night it was from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. I got along fine with the doctors, no trouble at all with them, one way or another. Dr. Fletcher used to tell me “If you want anything, just give me a ring”, and he always came at once. I called him on a maternity case and I waited until it was just about time for delivery and I called him and he didn’t come and about five minutes later I called him again, and I said “When I call you I want you to come, I don’t call you falsely”, and he came down there on high, he just got there in time. He was always nice to me.

I worked with Dr. Inman, Dr. Meson, and Dr. O’Keefe from McAdam but I liked working with Dr. Fletcher as good as any of them. He was a real good doctor and he seemed to take an interest in his patients. I remember when he came here first; he was a very clever diagnostician. We had Robbie Dorcas, Robbie was sick. He sent Robbie in to Fredericton to find out more about his sickness, he didn’t say what he thought but he wanted to find out what the doctors in Fredericton thought, and they sent him back and said that he was a diabetic. Dr. Fletcher was not satisfied and sent him back again and this time the doctors confirmed Dr. Fletcher’s opinion, Robbie had cancer. He did the same with Mrs. Howard Little. He sent her in for x-rays and ultra sound and they sent her back and said there was nothing serious, they said to give her some medicine. Next day he sent her right straight back in again writing them a letter asking them to confirm that she had cancer of the bowels. Again, he was right. He was a real student. He studied on every new thing and formula. Dr. Fletcher was a really good doctor.”

And Hazel was a really good nurse.

I’m very grateful to Effie Dewar for the work she did – transforming a sound tape to a printed page, it must have taken hours. Thanks.

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook Vol. One.”

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about the rich history and heritage of the Harvey region? Here are a few blog posts that might pique your interest: