Summary of history of healthcare on Tristan, from provision by missionaries to the first permanent hospital.

The community on Tristan da Cunha had no resident doctor for the first 125 years of its existence. The missionaries who served the island at various times from the 1850s brought with them medical supplies and provide some medical care for mostly minor ailments. Ships' doctors, and in particular the doctors on Royal Navy ships would check the health of the islanders during their visits and treat more serious cases, where possible, but these visits occurred once a year or less frequently, and usually only lasted a couple of days. A few of these doctors published reports on the health of the islanders in the British medical press. These were mostly favourable, and in particular, the islanders gained a reputation for their healthy teeth, which was put down to the community's isolation and the low amount of sugar in the island diet at that time.

The first sustained medical presence was during the three month Norwegian Scientific Expedition to Tristan da Cunha in 1937/38. The three-strong medical team thoroughly examined every islander and provided some professional medical treatment, although the current missionary still dealt with day-to-day care. When the naval station HMS Atlantic Isle was set up on Tristan during World War II, Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Woolley built the first island hospital, known as the 'station hospital'. The change in the island economy brought by the first fishing factory in 1949/50 enabled the hospital to become a permanent fixture.

The old Camogli Hospital and in front the site of the new hospital built from 2016 and opened 2017.

Camogli Hospital

Camogli Hospital, named after the home town of 1892 Italian settlers Andrea Repetto & Gaetano Lavarello, was built on an exposed site at the west end of the Settlement near Hottentot Gulch in 1971. It replaced the original 'Station Hospital' in temporary buildings erected in 1942.

Left: The main entrance to the old Camogli Hospital

2004 Hospital

The hospital in 2004. The Hospital (with green roof right) and doctor's house (with yellow roof left) were re-roofed and re-furbished after the 2001 hurricane. In 2004 the Medical Officer was the only permanent resident expatriate post on on the island as even the Administrator has mid-tour leaves (with the Chief Islander normally deputising). The hospital contained a waiting area, casualty/emergency room, consulting rooms, theatre, x-ray department, dental rooms, 2 general wards and a labour ward. Five local nurses assisted the resident doctor. Hospital equipment included 2 portable x-ray machines & developers and an emergency trolley with ECG and defibrillator. The theatre was fairly well equipped with an anaesthetic machine and endoscope. A new ambulance up to advanced life support standards was received in 2003.

Photo of the Camogli Hospital Team in July 2014
Left to Right: Dr Iain Levack, Teresa Green (Deputy Head Dental Department), Vera Glass (Hospital Manager), Dr Pam Levack, Carol Swain (Pharmacy Assistant), Clive Glass (Health Care Assistant), Michelle Green (Dental Assistant), Sandra Rogers (Nurse), and Judith Green (Nurse).
Other staff - Jane Repetto (Nurse) and Gillian Repetto (Laundry and Cleaner) - are missing from the photo.

Dr Pam Levack, Hospital Manager Vera Glass and Dr Iain Levack in the Camogli Hospital Operating Theatre in July 2014
Hospital Manager Vera Glass in the Hospital Pharmacy

New Camogli Healthcare Centre

A new hospital, named the Camogli Healthcare Centre with improved facilities began construction in 2016 and was opened in 2017. Photographs and details of the new hospital are given on a separate Camogli Healthcare Centre web page, and another page tells the story of the Camogli Healthcare Centre Construction.

The old Camogli Hospital building is now used by the vetenarians and for general storage.