Cherry Orchard Hospital, Ballyfermot Imagine, school could be a health hazard before
the 1960s! In fact, anywhere a crowd gathered could be life-threatening.Infectious diseases
such as TB and polio were very common in Ireland because children were not vaccinated against
them. In the 1950s there was an outbreak of polio
and if you were unfortunate enough to get it, you were put ‘in isolation’ in a hospital
which cared for people with infectious diseases. These hospitals were called ‘fever hospitals’.
You would have to stay there until you were cured or no longer infectious. This could
take six months or more. Nowadays if you had to stay in hospital you
would have lots of visitors bringing you presents but for children in a fever hospital in the
1950s life could be very lonely; most often these children were not allowed visitors or
presents and they didn’t see their family or friends for months. Cherry Orchard Hospital was such a hospital.
It opened in November 1953 to replace the old Cork Street Fever Hospital. This old hospital
had been set up in 1804 by Dublin businessmen, among them Arthur Guinness and Samuel Bewley. Dr Noel Brown was Minister of Health when
Cherry Orchard Hospital was built. He had worked very hard to get all children in Ireland
vaccinated against infectious diseases such as TB and polio. He was Minister of Health
when turned the first sod on the site for the new hospital. The buildings and gardens covered the space
of around 46 football fields. There were 11 separate single-storey blocks of wards, an
oratory where you could say your prayers, sports grounds, a swimming pool and rooms
for staff. Nowadays there is no need for a fever hospital
as there are hardly any dangerous contagious diseases about as most children are vaccinated
against them. Cherry Orchard Hospital still looks after patients today.