History of St. Anne Centre:
Dr. B.A. LeBlanc serviced the people of Isle Madame for the greater part of his lifetime with the exception of his war duty in World War I in the Medical Corp. Dr. G.R. Deveau also serviced in World War I as a Medical Officer. He practiced medicine for forty six years on Isle Madame.
In 1945, Dr. B.A. LeBlanc became seriously ill and could no longer see patients, leaving only Dr. Deveau to care for all. Maternity cases were a big worry. Snow banks and icy roads with a woman in labour in many areas made for a very worrisome situation.
Dr. Deveau made his appeal to the parish priests. Four clergy – Monsignor Alfred Boudreau, Rev. A.P. Poirier, Rev. Wilfred Boucher and Father George Landry ( later Bishop Landry) approached Bishop Morrison of the diocese of Antigonish and were given permission to purchase the Bishop’s Palace at Arichat for the sum of $ 8,500.00. This amount was raised by the communities.
At the time the Canadian Red Cross Society was sponsoring outpost hospitals. Dr. Deveau and Fr. Poirier negotiated with some of their contacts within the Society and they were successful in having the Red Cross sponsor the Isle Madame Project. In the mean time, Dr. Deveau’s problems were needing immediate attention. “Babies wait for no one”. The doctor needed a central place to bring his patients in order to be able to attend to all.
Enter into the picture, came Ida and Raymond Stone. Dr. Deveau was a very convincing gentleman and very soon Mama # 1 arrived at Ida’s door for a five or six day stay until Dr. G.R. told mom he needed a bed and she and baby could go home. Number 2 arrives as does # 20 and so goes the story until the team of Ida, Raymond and Dr. Deveau dissolved.
The Red Cross Hospital was a reality. On January 7, 1946, its doors opened and on January 8, 1946, its first maternity case arrived. In July 1948, an agreement was signed between C.L. Illsley, Commissioner for the Red Cross society; Rev. A.P. Poirier, President of the Isle Madame Branch of the Red Cross; E.C. Doyle, President Isle Madame Hospital Association; J.A. Benoit, Secretary Treasurer of the Isle Madame Hospital Association; and Margaret Marchand RN, Administrator.
The first staff consisted of two nurses, two aides, one cook, one maintenance man, one floor girl and one laundry girl. Nurses worked regular twelve hour shifts but sixteen on swing shift. There were fifteen adult beds, eight bassinets and four pediatric cribs. Medical Staff consisted of Dr. Deveau and Dr. J.A. MacDougall recruited from Sydney who came to us straight from the Air Force.
The first Trustees for a period of one year were:
* Very Rev. A.P. Poirier
* Rev. Charles Forrest
* Rev. Albert Doucette
* Rev. Wilfred A. Boucher
* Rev. Conrad Giroir
Despite the fact that the Red Cross was most generous in financing the operation for eleven years, the contributions of local citizens kept the hospital open. Red Cross policy forced the Society in 1957 to withdraw it’s financial support, but it did relinquish all interests to the Board providing the hospital kept in operation.
In 1957, the Board was fortunate to obtain the services of ” Filles de Jesus”, who took over the operation with the proviso that contributions from the five parishes be continued.
In 1958, the Nova Scotia Hospital Commission came into being and in 1959, after many attempts to get a new hospital, the sisters left the then St. Anne Hospital.
In 1960’s programs began to change. After some 2,500 births, with new regulations etc., our maternity ward closed and patients were sent to Antigonish to the safety of specialists. Next to go were Pediatric cribs and finally in 1980, our active beds were converted to a nursing care unit of eleven beds.
The design of the old palace was not conducive to the care of the residents, economics did not allow for improvements, nor did government regulations. Further efforts on the part of the Board and public support resulted in the construction of the present twenty-four bed home for special care in 1985.
Annexed to the home was the Out-Patient Department with its laboratory, x-ray, trauma and examining rooms, diabetes clinic and three visiting ophthalmology specialists, gynecologist, physiotherapist, internal medicine, dental care and foot care specialists. This serves as a pilot project and model for others in Nova Scotia.
A further need to care for veterans of our area became a reality and once again, the efforts of those involved resulted in five additional beds in a separate wing, completed in 1996.