Freemasonry has always been involved in the health and wellbeing of its members and the community.
Echoing the achievement of 1867 in establishing Aged Care which continues to this day, in 1937 Freemasons established a Hospital as “a practical expression” of Freemasonry commitment to benevolent efforts.
The hospital was and remains a non-government, not-for-profit charitable institution providing outstanding Healthcare to the community.
The Argus newspaper of 17 Feb 1937 reported;
The Freemasons' Intermediate Hospital, East Melbourne, will be officially opened on March 17 by the Governor-General (Lord Gowrie), who is also the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New South Wales.
The non-profit charitable Freemasons Hospital first opened in Clarendon Street, East Melbourne, with four operating theatres, 56 beds and accommodation for 42 nurses at the cost of over £100,000.
Initially built to service the health needs predominately of Freemasons and their families as both fee paying and free patients, the service the Hospital provides was later widened and patients needed no Masonic membership or association.
In 1957 a new wing increased capacity to 104 beds, later to 147 beds. There were further extensions, including an arthritis and injuries unit in 1981 and a cancer treatment centre in 1991.
In 1989 a large day-procedure centre (known as the Freemasons Hospital Medical Centre) was opened on an additional site in Victoria Parade, with specialist units in women's health services, surgery and day oncology, as well as a 38-bed maternity unit.
For about 70 years the Hospital was run by the Freemasons of Victoria and supported financially by them, the hospital was a company limited by guarantee, and admission is open to anyone. The families and friends of Freemasons have also actively supported the hospital. For instance the Freemasons Hospital Auxiliary played a critical part in raising funds to establish and equip the Hospital. Today, Freemasons and their friends and family sill buy equipment for the hospital and assist it in many way’s.
In 2006 Freemasonry Victoria sold the hospital and it is now run by Epworth Healthcare.
Epworth Freemasons now operates on two sites in East Melbourne – Clarendon Street and Victoria Parade. Facilities include 210 inpatient beds, a Day Procedure Centre and an Intensive Care Unit.
As well as being one of Victoria's best maternity hospitals, Epworth Freemasons specialises in women’s and related health services including breast and gynecological surgery.
Epworth Freemasons also offers comprehensive cancer care, and a full range of surgical services, including robotic-assisted surgery.
Finally, an extensive GP CPD Education program is also offered at no cost to practicing GPs.
The Freemasons of Victoria continue to support this important Community Institution with funds and expertise.
Freemason's Hospital, over 70 years of Healthcare to Victorians
Above - Freemason's Hospital circa 1961
Above - Freemason's Hospital circa 1945