A total of over sixty people worked in all the hospital’s wards. Some were sent there from other partisan units, while others were former patients who joined its staff after recovery. Before the war, the hospital staff were engaged in various professions; most of them were workers, farmers and craftsmen, while some were students and officials. Compelled by current needs they turned into nurses, builders, stewards, etc.
“There is no untarnished joy and happiness in human life. As long as you live you have to overcome even the hardest things and live on.” (Dr Franci Derganc)
Franci Derganc was born in Ljubljana. His father Franc, also a doctor, was one of the founders of surgical practice in Slovenia and the owner of the Emona sanatorium in Ljubljana. After completing his medical studies, Franci specialised in surgery. He spent almost two years in Paris. In 1941, he became an assistant trainee at the newly established surgical clinic in Ljubljana; in March of the same year he passed a specialist examination in surgery in Belgrade. After the occupation of Slovenia, he joined the Liberation Front. Together with colleagues he treated many members of underground resistance. This required a great deal of determination and courage, as the doctors who helped rebels risked being arrested. He was indeed arrested, together with Dr Žumer, and jailed in Italian prisons. He returned to Ljubljana in December 1943. There he contacted underground activists in preparation to join the partisans. Through a liaison in Kranj, he went to Lokve in August 1944 (via Martinj vrh, Cerkno and Vojsko), where the command of the Ninth Corps was located. As a specialist surgeon he was asked to form a surgical team. By September, the team was formed and equipped for this demanding work. The team was composed of 6 to 10 men. Its permanent members were Dr Derganc and his technical assistant Danilo Šuligoj, while the rest came from either Franja or Pavla hospitals – whichever was closer to current operations. When the surgical team did not participate in combat operations, Dr Derganc stayed in one of the two hospitals performing operations, which he regularly recorded. In a 1955 report on the activities of the surgical team of the Ninth Corps, Derganc wrote that he had performed a total of “416 operations: 118 in the surgical team and the rest in the field hospitals.” The list of operations was also published in his memories entitled Okrvavljena roža (A Blooded Flower), Ljubljana, 2007.