History of West Australia/Michael O'Connor

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MICHAEL O'CONNOR, B.A., M.B., B.Ch., and B.A.O.

Michael O'Connor HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Greenham & Evans.

"THE welfare of the people is the first great law. The old Latin teaching, fortunately, still holds good, and in no phase of life has it a more potent bearing than that relating to the health of a nation. With the onward march of civilisation, the growing up of large cities within comparatively narrow confines, and the rush and scurry of a money-making world, the preservation of a people's health ought to be a matter of supreme moment. In these days of germs and bacilli, of innumerable and deadly miasma, we are only contented and comfortable when we have men of medical research and experience about us. The doctor has come to be champion and protector of the people; while he is all-powerful, he is also a diplomat and a strategist. In Dr. O'Connor the city of Perth has, as health officer, a gentleman who has performed the many duties with infinite credit. Michael O'Connor, B.A, M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O., was born at Newcastle, in the Toodyay district, in 1865. There his primary education was imparted to him privately, but he was sent at an early age to the College of the Jesuits, in the county of Kildare, Ireland, following later to that great fount of modern learning—Trinity College, Dublin. In that famous school of the Dublin University he zealously studied medicine, and in the year 1889 took the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, &c. Returning to his native colony of Western Australia a year later, he travelled about the country for some time, and then, at the end of 1891, commenced practice in Perth. Not long afterwards a foreigner, who arrived by one of the north-west boats, landed in Perth, and sickened of small-pox, with the result that the dread scourge spread with some rapidity. Perth was in a state of anxiety and alarm, and as Dr. Scott, the then medical officer of the city, was ill, Dr. O'Connor was appointed to the position. His introduction to his duties was certainly a very grim one, and he had all his energies and professional resources taxed to their utmost capacity. He set to work in a practical way, having all patients placed in a quarantine area, and, working day and night, repressed the disease in places where he found it, and, in other localities, applied vigorous preventive measures in the shape of vaccination. His efforts were rewarded, and, though there were a number of deaths, the good work he did on that occasion-ever gratefully remembered—spoke of his professional skill and untiring energy. It was a bright success on the part of so young a practitioner, and subsequent events coming within the domain of the Board of Health have always found him equal to the occasion. The fact that Perth is in an insanitary state can in nowise be considered a blot on the escutcheon of Dr. O'Connor, who has worked might and main for the preservation of the health of the people. He has devised many schemes for health's sake, and in the execution of his duty is an uncompromising foe to insanitary conditions. In addition to being health officer, he is a senior physician of the Perth Government Hospital, and physician and superintendent of the Victoria Hospital, Subiaco, so that he has, comparatively speaking, very little time to spare, and that little he devotes to manly athletic exercise. He is captain of the Perth Polo Club, and at this healthy invigorating pastime is probably without peer in the colony. Dr. O'Connor's status in his profession is as high as the estimation in which he is held by his countless friends.