By the end of 1893 Rookwood Asylum accommodated 202 residents, after accepting 396 admissions to the Asylum from 1 March of that year. (1) Opened in response to the Government Asylums being "filled to overflowing" due to conditions produced by the economic depression of the time, the buildings at Rookwood had been intended for a Boys Reformatory, but were authorised instead to provide shelter for infirm and destitute men. (2)
During 1895 admissions numbered 641, with 379 of these resident at the end of the year. (3) At this time it was the Department's intention to increase accommodation at Rookwood, "to absorb" the Government Asylums at Liverpool, George Street, Parramatta, and Macquarie Street, Parramatta. (4) Although the removal of all inmates from George Street and Macquarie Street Asylums was recommended "as speedily as possible", it was not considered expedient to carry out the building project as proposed, and expansion at Rookwood was approved for the accommodation of 800 residents. (5)
In 1906 the first Resident Medical Superintendent was appointed, followed in 1911 by the appointment of Junior Resident Medical Officers. Between 1911 and 1913, specialist surgical departments were established for ophthalmology, dermatology, general surgery, neurology, and ear, nose and throat. Departments for massage (physiotherapy) and dentistry followed in 1914-15. (6)
After administrative responsibility for Government Asylums transferred from the Department of Charitable Institutions to Public Health in 1913, Rookwood Asylum became known as the Rookwood State Hospital and Asylum for Aged and Infirm Men, Lidcombe. (7) By 1926 admissions to the Hospital numbered 3,644, with 1,411 remaining in residence at the end of the year, 837 in the hospital division, and 574 in the asylum or "home" division. A dairy herd, piggery, and vegetable gardens were maintained by residents able to work. (8)
In 1927 the Hospital's name was changed to Lidcombe State Hospital and Home, to disassociate the hospital from the adjacent Rookwood cemetery. (9) On 4 September 1930 an X-Ray Department was opened at the Hospital, and building of an Infectious Diseases Unit was almost complete. The "unloading" of chronic cases requiring medical treatment from general hospitals was resulting in "the gradual evolution of this Institution into a modern hospital". (10) During the scarlet fever and diphtheria epidemics of 1936-39 the Infectious Diseases Division of the Hospital admitted male and female patients from the general public for treatment. (11)
The Lidcombe State Hospital Auxiliary was formed in 1962, and a Community Day Hospital, with facilities available to residents of the local area, opened in 1963. In 1966 the hospital's name was changed to Lidcombe Hospital and female patients began to be routinely admitted. The following year in 1967, the first trainee nursing program in Geriatric Nursing was established at the Hospital. (12)
In 1973 the "Home" section was formally disbanded, becoming "Nursing Home Wards" and included as part of the general hospital. During the 1970s the Hospital's clinical services expanded, and in 1976 Lidcombe Hospital became a teaching hospital for the University of Sydney Medical School. (13)
On 1 October 1989 Lidcombe Hospital was formally incorporated into the public hospital system, as part of the South Western Sydney Area Health Service, with responsibility for the hospital transferred from the Department of Health to the Area Health Board. (14)
In March 1992 Lidcombe merged with Bankstown Hospital to form a group hospital and, in June the following year, the consolidation of the hospitals on to the one site was approved. (15) The new 454-bed Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital became operational on 26 October 1996. (16)
1. Annual Report from the Director of Government Asylums and Boarding-Out Officer on the Department of Charitable Institutions, for the year ended 31 August 1894, Votes and Proceedings 1894-95, Vol.5, p.447.
2. Annual Report from the Director of Government Asylums and Boarding-Out Officer on the Department of Charitable Institutions, for the year ended 31 December 1892, Votes and Proceedings 1893, Vol.2, p.664.
3. Report on the Department of Charitable Institutions for the period ending 31 August 1895, in Votes and Proceedings 1896, Vol.3, p.240.
4. ibid., p.239.
5. Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, Report relating to the Proposed erection of buildings at Rookwood for Infirm and Destitute Persons, dated 13 March 1896, in Votes and Proceedings 1896, Vol.3, p.266.
6. Keast, Don, Lidcombe Hospital Centenary, A Pictorial History, Lidcombe Hospital, Lidcombe, 1993, p.11.
7. Report of the Director-General of Public Health for the year ended 31 December 1913, in Parliamentary Papers 1914-15, Vol.4, p.331.
8. Report upon the State Hospitals under the control of the Director-General of Public Health, Report for the year 1926, in Parliamentary Papers 1927, Vol.2, pp.946-47.
9. Keast, op cit.
10. Lidcombe State Hospital and Home for Men, Report of the Medical Superintendent for the year ended 31 December 1930, in Parliamentary Papers 1930-31-32, Vol.4, pp.572-73.
11. Keast, op cit, p.18.
12. ibid., p.27.
14. South Western Sydney Area Health Service, Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 1990, p.42.
15. South Western Sydney Area Health Service, Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 1993, p.12.
16. South Western Sydney Area Health Service, Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 1997, pp.16, 34.