Alex Clinic – the Health Centre and its environs 84 – 96

Alexandra Township was proclaimed outside Johannesburg in 1905. Originally it was intended to be a ‘European’ township which meant that black people could not own land there but this was during the depression that followed the end of the Anglo-Boer-War when there was no demand for the land so a few years later it was converted into a ‘Native’ township.

The Health Centre
In 1929 the American Board Mission established a Mother and Child Clinic there but could not maintain it financially. In 1939 the University of the Witwatersrand became involved in running it and all final year students were obliged to have a compulsory period of training there which means that every doctor who qualified at Wits University after 1939 spent time at Alex Clinic. It was then that the name was changed to the Alexandra Health Centre and University Clinic.

The adjacent town of Sandton became involved in 1986 when the Mayor of Sandton, Willem Hefer, and the President of the Sandton Civic Foundation, Eric Gallo started a fund-raising campaign. Wits University also started playing a more important role and a new management team was appointed, consisting of Dr Tim Wilson as director, Dr Liz Floyd, full-time Senior Medical Officer, and Dr Wendy Orr, full-time Medical Officer , soon to be joined by David Robb as Hospital Administrator. The staff compliment grew and changed as Alex became more vibrant and integrated into the Alexandra community but memorable people who worked there during these critical years included Dr Paulo Ferrinho (now Professor of Public Health at …. In Lisbon; Dr Grant Rex who is now…. Dr Peter Barron who …. And Huib Cornjelje who was sent to …. .

Someone was once asked why all the doctors at Alex were white while all the nurses were black. The simple answer is that during this poisonous time of apartheid South Africa there was very little room for black professionals of any kind.

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