Dorothy Ward

Infectious Diseases Hospital


Board of Management

The Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre (a campus of the Royal Adelaide Hospital) was originally built as the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital,  established in 1932 for patients with infectious diseases such as polio, scarlet fever, measles and diphtheria.  At the time it was established it was an autonomous organisation controlled by its own Board of Management, and its finances were maintained solely through the contributions of local councils. 

By 1947, the introduction of immunisation programs and the discovery of new drugs (including penicillin) had created a situation where there was a low incidence of infectious disease, reducing the outbreaks of epidemics as seen in the past, and it was determined that the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital had outlived the purpose for which it was designed. 

On 1st April 1948 the responsibility for running the Hospital passed onto the Royal Adelaide Hospital and it was proclaimed an annexe of the Royal Adelaide Hospital (later becoming known as the Northfield Wards of the Royal Adelaide Hospital).  

As Matron of the Northfield Infectious Diseases Hospital, Dorothy Mary Ward held a position on the 1948 Board of Management.

WARD, Dorothy Mary (MATRON)

Miss Dorothy Mary Ward, Matron, Infectious Diseases Hospital (1955).

DATE OF BIRTH: Dorothy Mary Ward was born in Whyte Yarcowie, South Australia on the 22 September 1892.  Her parents were Michael Joseph Ward and Mary Isabella Francis McCreanor.

When Dorothy Mary Ward was born on 22 September 1892 her father, Michael, was 34, and her mother, Mary, was 37. She was the first-born child, and had four younger brothers (one brother, Lewis Sylvester Ward, died at birth) and two younger sisters.

PLACE OF BIRTH: The town of Yarcowie was surveyed in 1875, and the first land was released to settlers in the district of Yarcowie in March 1872. The name is said to be Aboriginal (Ngadjuri) for “Wide Water.” The name changed to Whyte Yarcowie in 1929 after the early pastoralist John Whyte.

The railway station was built in 1880, and Whyte Yarcowie was a bustling railway town in the early 1900s.  The town had a flour mill, schools, hotels, and an Anglican Church which, at the time, was reported to be the smallest in Australia.

The town is described in the Observer, 4 July 1885, page 32a and Parliamentary Paper  66/1886 as “a small village containing about 26 houses, which are considerably scattered, with a population of about 100. The water is obtained almost entirely from tanks supplied with rainwater from the roofs. There are two or three wells but the water in them is not used for drinking.”

SCHOOLING: (no information currently available)

Dorothy Mary Ward graduated from the Adelaide Hospital in 1926. After graduation she worked as a private nurse before becoming Matron at the Wallaroo Hospital from 1940.

There is a listing for Dorothy Mary Ward under the Victoria Gazette indicating that she completed her Midwifery training in 1935:

In 1943, she was appointed Matron at the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital and then Matron at the Northfield Infectious Diseases Hospital when the Royal Adelaide Hospital took over management of the site.  She resigned for health reasons in 1955, and died one week later, on the 30 July 1955, at the age of 62.

The Kadina and Wallaroo Times (SA: 1888-1954) reported her appointment to the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital on Friday 25 June 1943 (page 2).


Dorothy’s father, Michael Joseph Ward, was born in Aldinga, South Australia on the 31 August 1858, the son of Mary and Patrick ward.

He married Mary Isabella Francis McCreanor on 29 July 1885 in South Australia when he was 26 years old. They had seven children in 12 years, Dorothy being their first child.

South Australian Register, Saturday 1 August 1885, page 4:

Michael Joseph Ward worked as a storekeeper, and was a prolific letter writer, with much correspondence sent to the Editor of various South Australian newspapers on a range of topical subjects at the time, including the plight of farmers during the drought, village settlements, Railway tariffs, and the introduction of free education (to which he was opposed).

Extracts from a letter written to the South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1895), Saturday 18 October 1890, page 21:

Dorothy’s father, Michael Joseph Ward, died from meningitis on 23 October 1902 in Jamestown, South Australia, at the age of 44.  His Eulogy appeared in the Southern Cross (Adelaide) Friday 31 October 1902, page 11:

Michael Joseph Ward is buried in the Whyte Yarcowie Cemetery, Goyder Regional Council (section 1 row 7, Plot 788 – no grave photo available), along with his mother Mrs Mary Ward, and his son, Lewis Sylvester Ward, who died at birth).

Dorothy’s mother, Mary Isabella Francis McCreanor, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1855.  Mary Isabella Frances McCreanor married Michael Joseph Ward on 29 July 1885 in South Australia when she was 30 years old. 

When her husband Michael Joseph passed away on 23 October 1902 in Jamestown, South Australia, they had been married for 17 years.


Dorothy Mary Ward’s paternal grandparents were pioneer settlers in the Willunga district for many years before moving to Ulooloo (situated midway between Burra and Peterborough on the Barrier Highway from Adelaide to Broken Hill). 

Her grandmother Mrs Mary Ward was acknowledged in her Eulogy in the Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA: 1867–1922), Tuesday 2 July 1895 (page 4):


In 1955, Dorothy received both the Civilian Service Medal (1939-1945) and The Order of the British Empire.

The Civilian Service Medal 1939-1945 recognises the service of eligible civilians in Australia during World War II.

The Order of the British Empire was established by King George V in 1917 to honour those who had served in a non-combative role, and to reward contributions to the Arts, Sciences, Charitable work and Public Service.

Civilian Service Medal 1939-1945.

Order of the British Empire Medal.


Dorothy Mary Ward passed away on the 30 July 1955 in Calvary Hospital North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


OBITUARY: (no information available)

Written by Karyn Baker, CALHN Health Museum Volunteer.