The Coast Hospital was first established in 1881 as a refuge for smallpox victims when a Sanitary Camp was set up at the then remote Little Bay. A renewed outbreak of typhoid and smallpox in 1885 resulted in the formation of a permanent centre for infectious diseases. Isolated wards or lazarets were built and 30 to 40 lepers lived there permanently to avoid spreading the incurable disease within the community.
Until the 1930s the Coast Hospital catered for a variety of infectious diseases including measles, scarlet fever, venereal disease, tuberculosis and bubonic plague. The hospital was especially active during the 1919 influenza epidemic which ravaged Sydney. It also served as a convalescent home for wounded veterans from both World Wars.
In 1934 the Coast Hospital was renamed The Prince Henry Hospital after a visit from the Duke of Gloucester, and was moved away from the beach where it became a more traditional hospital. Several buildings that formed part of the Coast Hospital remain today. They are:
- Pine Cottage
- the nurses' dining and lecture hall
- the Flowers Wards
- the Sewing room
- ward 16
- the kitchen block