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QE Health began as the Services Convalescent Hospital, established in 1942.
The New Zealand Government commissioned the Public Works Department to construct a temporary building as a convalescent depot for the repatriation of returning members of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
The chosen site, north facing, on the shores of Lake Rotorua, was deemed especially suitable with clean bracing air, and proximity to water and other leisure and recreational activities necessary for successful rehabilitation.
Dr Wilfred Stanley Wallis, Medical Superintendent, Dr Reeve his deputy and Matron Watt headed a staff of medical personnel, physiotherapists and occupational therapists whose aim was not only to heal, but to assist servicemen to be gradually eased into civilian life.
The local Rotorua community as well was largely involved in the welfare of the patients. Hospitality was spontaneous and generous.
By mid 1948 the hospital ceased to function as one solely for servicemen. Patients from Rotorua Sanatorium were transferred and the hospital now treated patients suffering from arthritis and rheumatism and allied complaints.
Through Sir Bernard Freyberg, Governor General, a request was made to Buckingham Palace resulting in Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) graciously consenting to the hospital being named Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Dr Wallis continued as Medical Superintendent until his retirement in 1957.
In the 1960’s spa treatment was brought over to a new wing at QE Health, when the Rotorua Bathhouse (now known as the Tudor Towers) closed.
After 20 years of Government administration, Queen Elizabeth Hospital was officially handed over to the Waikato Hospital Board in October 1968.
Over recent years the New Zealand public health system has undergone many structural changes and QE Health’s vulnerability has often been tested. The sudden death of Medical Superintendent, Dr Irwin Isdale overseas in 1982 was one such period when for a time the hospital's future was seriously threatened.
But for the vigilance and ultimate actions of staff, patients past and present and concerned organisations it is doubtful whether the hospital would have continued. Considerable pressure in support of the hospital was exerted upon the Waikato Hospital Board.
In 1983 Dr Kevin Greene, Medical Superintendent at Rotorua Hospital was appointed to the similar position at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Dr Jeremy Jones from United Kingdom arrived in 1984 to fill the position of Medical Director.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital passed into private hands in 1993 and continues to provide specialised rheumatology, multidisciplinary musculoskeletal rehabilitation and arthritis surgery.
Overseas visitors attend regularly to undergo a regime of thermal treatments, therapies and exercise - in short they came to "take the waters" so popular through the centuries in the European countries from where many of these people originate.
In 1993 a private interest Health Group and Queen Elizabeth Community Trust combined to form QE Hospital Ltd, a private company.
March 2003 saw the unveiling of a commemorative glass window funded by the Patients’ Association. This was a ‘Turn of the Century’ gift to QE Health to celebrate 60 years [1942-2002] of healing and caring. This is hanging in the main entrance.
July 2003 celebrations were held to mark the tenth anniversary of the private company, and a name change to QE Health.
The name change represented QE’s focus away from “illness” and more towards “wellness”.
Since December 2005 Queen Elizabeth Hospital Community Trust became the sole shareholder of QE Health. The Directors of the company are appointed by the Trust.