Where Are They Now? Mr Berzins and His Photo Album (Sept 2003)
Mr Berzins joined the service as a student nurse in 1950 and sent me these reflections of his life and times at St Francis.
Of his first day he writes : 'At the given time I arrived at the hospital reception desk. I was given a bunch of keys - for the male ward doors, a key for the fire alarm boxes and a whistle - which I signed for. The deputy chief male nurse, Mr Parsons, escorted me through several locked doors to Male 5 ward. I was introduced to the nurse in charge of the ward, Gordon Hughes. I had no idea what to expect as it was all completely new to me. To my surprise the ward was very ordinary with some patients lying in bed and others others in day clothes were sitting around. The nurses were wearing white coats. I was fitted with a white jacket and an apron and joined the rest of the nurses. I found the staff friendly and helpful.
Now, since I have retired I take an active part in local Latvian society. I am a member of the Latvian Press Association England Branch and had been its branch secretary for ten years till I had a stroke 5 years ago(1998)(I am fully recovered now). I write articles for the Latvian press. I am a member of Latvian Welfare Fund and I still continue serving as secretary to its Rowfant Branch.
My EMail is email@example.com
He 'remembers how the genders were segretated on the wards with the male side completely seperate to the female side. The male staff were managed by the chief male nurse whilst the matron had charge of the female staff.
All the wards of the male side were locked except one and there were no door handles and pass keys were the order of the of the day for getting in and out.male 1 was for geriatrics with male 2 used for epileptics. male 3 and 4 were long stay wards and patients ate in the dining room. All were counted in and out for any activity, they showered in the main bathroom and were supervised by the assistant chief male nurse. Male 5 was admissions ward and male 6 for disturbed patients with male 7 being an open ward where patients were free to roam the grounds and some allowed into town.The sanatorium was used for nursing the physically ill and two storey was an observation sleeping dormitory. The sleeping gallery, above wards 3 and 4, contained dormitories and single rooms. Pegging switches were in use throughout here and two storey which were activated by the rounds nurse using a key which logged a movement at the main reception.
The main treatments in the 1950's were ECT and Insulin Therapy. In those days ECT was given straight without anaesthetic and muscle relaxant resulting in severe convulsions. A rolled up blanket was placed under the patient's back for support with the nurses supporting and restraining the patient's violently convulsing limbs. Mr Berzins witnessed a patient who suffered a fractured femur as a result.
I hope you all enjoy my photo album.' JH