By Boi Antoin
Translation: Harald Linkels
In those days, health care left much to be desired on Bonaire. This changed when the Sisters of Roosendaal, who had originally come to the island to provide education to the local children, also assumed responsibility for health care.
Due to the efforts of Bishop Gregorius Vuylsteke, enough money was raised to buy Villa Jane and the surrounding grounds from the old owner, Richard Muskus. On February 1, 1922, the former San Francisco Hospital opened its doors on Bonaire. The old building that previously served as a hospital was now inaugurated as maternity ward.
Initially, the new hospital was run by only two nuns, who had previously gained experience with the provision of healthcare in Curaçao. The plan to bring in a third nun, specialized in nursing, from the Netherlands to join the team. Unfortunately, she died just before undertaking her journey to the West.
In the first few years, things didn’t go all that well for the new hospital. At that time, Government contributed a mere 0.80 (Antillean) cents per day to the costs for each patient. The Hospital was not able to do much with that amount. Once again Bishop Vuylsteke made an effort to raise more money for the Hospital.
However, the new hospital soon became too small. Fortunately, enough money was raised on Bonaire and Curaçao to build a whole new hospital.
On January 16, 1943, after taking the necessary hurdles, construction of the new and larger hospital was finally started, on the same spot where Villa Jane was located. Due to the Second World War that was going on in Europe at the time, it took relatively long before building materials reached the island. However, construction was completed on June 15, 1944. A few days later, the first patients were already admitted to the new San Francisco Hospital.