Up until 1886 the only hospital care in the Moruya district was for maternity care given at the maternity homes. In this year a small temporary hospital was established in a private rented house.
The following year there were allegations of mismanagement and overcharging, especially in the case of Mrs Burrows whose relatives complained. An inquiry was held but it was found that there were exceptional circumstances which resulted in a large bill.
Mrs Burrows was suffering from severe burns which had taken place five weeks prior to her being admitted to the hospital. Her sons were fairly well off and it had been arranged that she be admitted as a private patient.
The matron and wardsman were only paid when there was a patient. The matron receiving £1 per week and the wardsman 9/- a day. As well the doctor charged the same as for a private patient. The discharge from Mrs Burrows wounds were copious and offensive which meant that those attending her needed to have a brandy before they could cope. Hence a charge for brandy on the bill.
All the bedding and linen used by the patient had to be destroyed. The inquiry said that there was nothing amiss with the charges. The charges of mismanagement by the Honorary Secretary Mrs Love were also dismissed.
She was noted for her charity work and had donated much time to the hospital including helping to obtain the site for the new hospital, obtaining a grant for its establishment and collecting money for its building fund.
Fund raising for a cottage hospital began in 1882 but it was not until 1885 that an area of just over 5 acres was granted as a site for the hospital on the banks of the Moruya River. In 1889 a committee set up to organise the building of the new hospital accepted the design of local architect Reginald Barlow.
The building was to consist of two wards, one male, one female, a matron's bedroom, surgery, sitting room, committee room, two kitchens, storeroom and lavatories, "well ventilated". In April 1890 the committee met to decide what colours should be used in the painting of the building. There were some amendments needed to Mr Barlow's design - an outside earth closet was needed to supplement the bucket toilets in the building, two doors from the matron's bedroom were needed so she could pass into either of the wards without having to go outside, a wash house was also needed and a knocker for the front door. A 12ft by 9ft tent with fly was purchased for the use with infectious disease patients. A grant was obtained for fencing and water storage.
The builders were Mr Shottin and Mr Stubbs with Mr Hancock erecting the chimney and Mr Pfeiffer and Mr Davis doing the painting. The cost was £528.19.3. At a committee meeting of June 18, 1890, the Secretary was instructed to write to the Secretary of State to tell him that the building was finished.
The leading ladies of the town were asked to form a committee to organise the opening. On Wednesday, April 15, 1891, the public opening of the hospital took place. Admission to the opening cost sixpence. The president performed the ceremony in the presence of about 250 people and declared the hospital open for the reception of patients. A "social" was held in the grounds with young people enjoying themselves at various games while the elder folk examined the rooms in the building.
The celebrations concluded with a "Cinderella" Dance in the evening in the Mechanics Institute. Dance tickets cost ten shillings and 6 pence a double or seven shillings and 6 pence a single.
During the first week in May 1891 the first patient was admitted. He was an American named Horace Toogood aged 76 and suffering from a disease of the kidneys. He died in July.
The general public were a bit backward in supporting the institution but various functions were held in the district to raise money including special collection boxes, membership drives and a Hospital ball. Only ten patients were recorded as being admitted in 1892.
It was not easy to become a patient. A good number were refused admission as they were classed as "strolling patients". These were people in the habit of seeking admission to the hospital in every district in which they happened to be without having an actual disease. In 1894 the committee disapproved of Mrs Du Ross being admitted without consultation with the committee. In 1895 Mrs Cunningham requested admission to the hospital. The matter was stood over until the next meeting while enquiries were made into the nature of her case. In 1896 Miss O'Byrne wished to be admitted to the hospital suffering from diarrhoea. The committee decided Dr Quilter could admit her if he felt she was a fit subject.