Victorian Order of Nurses services a large part of Alberta

By 1919, the branches of the Victorian Order of Nurses, while still serving the rural areas, were limited to Edmonton and Calgary, with an affiliation with High River and Athabasca. Only Edmonton and Calgary branches existed between 1921 and 1947. The midwifery issue had remained a concern, and in 1919, the VON permitted the nurses trained in obstetrics to practise midwifery in remote areas. Other midwives had been offering their services for many years before this.

In the early years of the century, there was a terrific population growth in Edmonton. With people often starting out in tents, there was a definite lack of water supply and sewage disposal and not enough physicians to meet medical needs. There were already hospitals in the city but very few nurses who would be able to help the sick in their homes. The VON was asked to help and the city granted enough money to hire one nurse. Only a few years later two more were added, one being stationed across the North Saskatchewan in Strathcona.

In 1914, based on the number of children being born in the city, a special nurse was hired to provide post-natal care to babies and their mothers, for up to a year following the birth. The VON was happy to report a major drop in the infant mortality rate from earlier years, and showed favourable comparison with the rest of the country.

Funding was always a problem, especially during the Depression it was difficult to collect any kind of fee from destitute families who still needed the help of a nurse. The branch held tag days, organized rummage sales and bake sales, held dances and put on concerts. Sometimes they were able to persuade the better off to make a private donation.

Another problem for the nurses in Edmonton was accommodation. At one point some them shared an apartment with a housekeeper to take messages for them. Problems started when people, knowing where the nurses were, showed up at the apartment looking for medical help, no matter what the hour. Eventually, in 1930, office space was rented. And then, because the nurses were often visiting rural areas, there was the problem of transportation. The streetcar only went so far and the nurses had to make the best arrangements they could beyond that. In 1923, a car was purchased which alleviated the problem somewhat, but still left the others on the streetcar and anything else that was going their way. More cars did become available through the Kiwanis Club and the Lady Aberdeen League Auxiliary.
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