Warburton Health Care Centre and Hospital
"Warburton Sanitarium Home" began operating in August 1910 out of the converted home of W D Salisbury. It provided accommodation for five patients and offered "good wholesome diet, massage and hydrotherapy." The first medical superintendent, Dr James, provided medical, surgical and obstetric services.
The first patient at the Warburton Sanitarium, in 1910, was driven from the railway station to the Sanitarium by a youthful Roy Allan Anderson, in the Anderson's buggy drawn by two shetland ponies. The first matron was Miss Christine Manson.
As its reputation spread, the home soon became too small, so the institution was moved to its present site in 1912, where it was promoted as the "Victorian Home of Health." The now beautiful trees in the hospital grounds were planted by Pastor A W Anderson, then editor of the Signs Publishing Company as well as manager of the Sanitarium. Additions to the home with east and west wings in the 1930s provided accommodation for guests. The institution became known from its early days as "Warburton Sanitarium."
A hospital building was added in 1923, and then replaced by a weatherboard section in 1950. This hospital wing was refurnished and extended to 11 beds in 1954. The name "Warburton Hydro and Hospital" was in use from 1936 to 1947 and to many people it was affectionately known as the "Hydro" because of the hydrotherapy treatments that were available.
In 1952 the business office was built above the reception area to accommodate the office staff and manager. With the emphasis on rehabilitation, the physiotherapy and hydrotherapy wing was completed in 1959, featuring an open sundeck.
The four-storey Barkley Bell wing was completed in 1962 and was made possible by a generous donation from a regular guest to the Sanitarium, Mr Barkley Bell. This building continued to provide guest accommodation. From 1947 to 1976 the institution was called the "Warburton Sanitarium and Hospital." Further brick extensions were added in 1972, bringing the capacity up to 29 beds. The name was changed to "Warburton Health Care Centre and Hospital" in 1976.
With an increasing emphasis on health education, the health promotion wing was opened in 1978, providing a lecture room, offices, gymnasium and heated swimming pool. In 1980 a further extension added six more beds, bringing the capacity to 35 beds. In 1986 the Alcohol Recovery Unit was completed, adding a much-needed facility. This unit was later renamed the Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Unit, in line with the programs offered there. In 1989, extensive upgrading and refurbishing was completed in the older Health Care Centre buildings and the Barkley Bell wing.
In 1992 the name of the institution was again changed to simply "Warburton Hospital" with the Warburton Health Care Centre continuing as a division of the hospital. The year 1992 saw the commencement of a $5 million expansion project at Warburton Hospital, taking the hospital beds to 50 and including a new three-storey wing to house a 25-bed medical, surgical and obstetric ward with all rooms complete with ensuite facilities; a high dependency unit; two birthing rooms comfortably furnished and complete with ensuites and spa; expanded radiology and pathology facilities; a 24-hour emergency department; a modern operating suite and day-surgery facilities; specialist consulting rooms; and hospital administration offices. Patient rooms were designed to take full advantage of spectacular views of the Warburton valley. This new hospital wing was officially opened on June 7, 1994.
Warburton Hospital moved ahead with plans to cater for medical needs beyond the year 2000, and in July 1997 Warburton Health Care Centre changed its name to Warburton Health Resort. It continued to maintain a high standard of health promotion and lifestyle programs for those seeking to lose weight, stop smoking, manage stress, or to simply rest, relax and enjoy the best in vegetarian cuisine and hydrotherapy or massage.
However, due to a number of factors, including the increasingly high cost of operating this unique facility, the Trans-Australian Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Hospital Board voted to advertise the complex for sale in 1998.
It was almost two-and-a-half uncertain years before a sale was made in September 2000 to Prospa Pty Ltd, and the church ceased operations at the complex on March 14, 2001. As of February 2006 the complex remains closed.
May God bless all those who were born there worked there or came as guests or patients. It was a healing place in the mountains from 1910 to 2001. For that we must be thankful.
-Compiled by Sue Marshall