Mildred Dobbs was requested to not attend church. What kind of woman must she have been to have such a request made? The very best!
A humanitarian and nurse, Mildred lived a very isolated life as the nurse in charge of the Isolation Hospital. When people had contagious diseases, they were not sent to the Galt or St. Michael’s Hospitals. They were either quarantined at home or sent to the Isolation Hospital until they were well. Originally the isolation hospital was located north of the Galt Hospital near the Lethbridge Lodge area. This was during the time of Lethbridge’s red light district – after all, the good people of Lethbridge didn’t want the isolation hospital near them so they put it beside who they considered the bad people. Mildred, a religious woman, found the placement of the hospital problematic. Men would occasionally come knocking at the door looking for the wrong services. And a hospital requires peace and quiet while the red light district was better known for its late night pursuits. So the city graciously moved the isolation hospital – to the cemetery! For a few years, the hospital was located on the coulee just north of the Mountain View Cemetery fence. How convenient for the patients. You either got better or just never left.
In all of her years at the job (39 years to be exact), Mildred never took a sick day and actually purchased many of the furnishings and supplies herself. With the help of one assistant, she maintained six coal fires and did all of the washing by hand. In addition, she had to see to the smallpox patients who were housed in a shack behind the hospital. On top of all that, Mildred often gave her patients a present when they were preparing to go home – an onion sandwich!
Why was she asked to not attend church? She was asked by Dr. DeVeber, the Medical Officer of Health. When Mildred attended church on Sunday, he spent all morning on Monday fielding questions and concerns from people over what diseases she had brought with her. Finally, he just requested she not attend.