The Dick Institute Auxiliary Hospital

 During the First World War, Kilmarnock's  Dick Institute saw service as an auxiliary hospital for soldiers wounded in France. Many of these photos were taken in November 1917, during the year that The Dick Institute was converted from a space of arts and culture to one of healing. Over 3000 buildings and venues such as private homes, town halls and schools were established as temporary hospitals in towns and cities across the UK. These hospitals were organisationally attached to a central military hospital which cared for patients under military orders. Patients in auxiliary hospitals did not generally have life-threatening injuries and stayed in these wards to convalesce. Compared to military hospitals, auxiliary hospitals were smaller, less strict, less clinical and more homely. This meant that wounded servicemen often preferred these converted wards to more formal military infirmaries.


 Due to the increased demand for doctors in central hospitals and on the front line, auxiliary hospitals were mainly supported by nursing professionals, including matrons, trained nyurses and members of the Red Cross and Order of St. John's Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD). The VAD members were primarily local women who volunteered part-time and were trained by medical professionals in first aid, home nursing and hygiene. Hospitals, however, often needed to supplement voluntary work with paid roles, such as cooks. At the beginning of the Great War, VADs generally worked in convalescing hospitals such the The Dick Institute Auxiliary Hospital, but as the fight raged on, it became more common to find them in field hospitals. In the photographs, VADs can be identified by the large cross on their aprons.


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