After the Second World War, it soon became obvious to the people of the Fairfield Municipality that medical services were inadequate. The population was rapidly expanding as a result of the sub-dividing of colonies in the outer west and as a direct consequence of the Government's Post War Immigration Program soon stretching already scarce resources. People requiring hospitalisation had to travel to the nearest available facilities in Parramatta or Auburn.
From the humble beginnings of a Public General Meeting call by the Mayor of Fairfield, Alderman Clifford Green in 1945; a Board of Directors was formed in 1947 to facilitate appropriate action for the provision of a public hospital for Fairfield. The Board in association with Fairfield Local Members initiated and spearheaded the movement for the construction of a suitable District Hospital; and by 1947; Fairfield Hospital was placed on the list for the next financial budget; the sites were inspected in 1949 and the decision was made to build on the corner of the Horsley Drive and Mitchell Street in East Fairfield.
In these post war years, building supplies of steel, bricks and mortar were in very short supply. After several meetings between various Government bodies, it was decided to import a prefabricated hospital from England. At the time, it was acknowledged that the building may not be suitable to the Australian climate but it was decided there was little choice as it would be some time before suitable materials would be available.
The Hospital's Commission placed the order with the Public Works in 1951; and in 1953, large crates containing sections of the building arrived on the docks of Sydney. In May 1954, the Hospital's Commission accepted the tender of James Samson and Co. for the construction of the components of the prefabricated building which was to be Fairfield District Hospital.
On 15th September 1956 the hospital was officially opened by the NSW Minister for Health, the Hon. W.F. Sheahan. Sadly Alderman Clifford Green passed away on the eve of the opening; he had been Chairman of the Board since its inception. The hospital cost £750,000 to build and consisted of 100 general beds and 27 maternity beds, the cost of keeping one patient in hospital for one week was £35. Today (2015), the approximate cost of a general patient per week is $6,000.00.
The Municipality of Fairfield continued to rapidly expand causing great strain on its local hospital and the inadequacies of the Hospital's capacity and facilities soon became apparent. In a report by the Western Metropolitan Health Region (1975:48), the following was noted in respect to Fairfield Hospital: "The quality of the building is not high because there are problems of maintenance, temperature and hygiene control. Generally speaking, the environmental standard is low, a direct result of the initial selection of building fabric." The controversy generated at this time resulted in a political interplay between the Local Government (a strong Labour seat), the NSW Department of Health and the people of Fairfield.
The first hint of success coming in 1976, when it was noted in the Board Resolutions that "approval for an analysis to be carried out by a Planning Team on all sites available, including present location, to determine where the new hospital might be located for the best interest of the community" had been given.
The terms of reference for the Working Party for the new hospital were written on 28 April 1976 (Board Resolutions, 1988). The decision to build a new hospital was confirmed in the Champion Newspaper (Jan, 1978) which stated that 3.5 acres had been obtained at Bossley Park. It was further noted by the Mayor of Fairfield, Mrs J. Crosio, who announced that the establishment of a new hospital at Fairfield was closer. Land at Bossley Park was being rezoned by the Fairfield Council to incorporate the hospital boundaries of Prairievale Road, Polding Street, use of Fairfield Golf Course and Showground, and drainage channel almost opposite Restwell Road (Advance, Sept. 1978).
By the early eighties, the situation became critical and several official submissions were made to the NSW Department of Health by various groups that included Local Members of Parliament, Fairfield Council, Fairfield Hospital Board members as well as the Medical Associations, for the construction of a new hospital.
Following approval and funding by the New South Wales Government, the hospital's construction commenced during July, 1985. In 1987, the Board of the Whitlam Area Health Service met with the Minister for Health, the Hon. P. Anderson, and after discussion, it was decided that the new Fairfield Hospital be commissioned as a General Community Hospital as originally planned. The services to be provided would include Paediatrics (26 beds), Obstetrics (50 beds), Medical (30 beds), Surgical (60 beds), Rehabilitation (26 beds), Intensive Care / Coronary Care (10 beds), Day Surgery (10 beds), Operating Theatres, and Accident and Emergency Departments.
The 4th December 1987 was to become a major historical event for the people of Fairfield and the staff of Fairfield Hospital, a 'Closing Ceremony' was held to commence the decommissioning process for Fairfield District Hospital after 31 years of service. The State Member for Fairfield, Mrs Janice Crosio, and State Member for Cabramatta, Mr John Newman, were guest speakers at this ceremony. This ceremony was to mark the closure of the old and the opening of a new $47,000,000 hospital at Prairiewood. On 22 November 1988, the Fairfield District Hospital on the Horsley Drive finally closed its doors.
The new two level standalone brick hospital at Wetherill Park, constructed in just over three years, opened its doors to provide a new service to the community. Both excitement and a sense of sadness prevailed. Mr Crane was officially noted as the hospital's first admission. The new Fairfield Hospital at Prairiewood was officially opened by the Minister for Health Hon. Peter Collins on the 8th May 1989.
Throughout the years Fairfield Hospital has had numerous donations from Auxiliaries, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Schools, local businesses, and community groups. These generous donations supplied essential clinical equipment such as beds, resuscitators, as well as a variety of monitors and, still to this day these donations form an intricate part of Fairfield Hospital's ability to purchase essential equipment.
Victoria Knol and Maria Pron
Fairfield Advance Newspaper, (1978). 'Land site for new hospital'. September.
George, V. (1991). Fairfield - A Historv of the District. Fairfield Council, 2nd edition, Sydney.
Howich, K., (1959). Municipality of Fairfield Record of Progress, Fairfield Council, Sydney.
Liverpool - Fairfield Champion, (1978). 'New hospital for Fairfield'. January.
McKay, P., (1988). Board Resolutions - Summary, Fairfield Hospital, Fairfield.
Penning, C, (1990). A History of Fairfield Hospital. Unpublished.
Western Metropolitan Health Region, (1975). Preliminary Report, Planning and Development Unit, Parramatta.