Macksville District Hospital turns 60

How time flies, when you are busy caring for your local community ...

For 60 years Macksville District Hospital and its loyal staff have done just that and today (Thursday) that history was celebrated with staff past and present, gathering to share stories and cut, of course, the cake.

The combined experience of those present was impressive:

Doreen Forbes was an enrolled nurse at the original hospital and made the move up to the new hospital in 1958; she also helped pull together the amazing collection of old photos that decorated the walls of the hospital chapel, setting the tone of the day.

HOSPITAL NUMBER ONE: is now Macksville Primary School

HOSPITAL NUMBER ONE: is now Macksville Primary School

For Lisa Slater, the hospital has been a constant in her life, with her father one of the town’s GPs and an anaesthetist.

“We used to play in the lifts on a Saturday when Dad came up here to do his rounds … in fact, people blame me when they break down” Lisa laughed.

Everyone agreed the Clybucca bus tragedy in 1989 was a memorable moment.

“Dad left in the early hours of the morning in his pyjamas … and he still had them on under his overalls when I got to work in the afternoon.”

She said the teamwork was incredible.

“We were triaging for at least 24 hours, and it just ran like clockwork. I remember quite a few of the people I met that day: there was this English guy, in Australia for the first time to meet his girlfriend's family – she had been flown to Sydney and he was still here. 

There was glass coming out of him for days when I changed the sheets.

Lisa Slater

“There was another guy from Tonga, who spoke absolutely no English – it was tough for him.”

Midwives Judy Brooks and Jan Walters both started in the early ‘70s.

“We wore veils in those days, which was a real pain in maternity when you were listening for a fetal heartbeat,” Jan said.

Judy recalls how nurses did everything back then.

“We worked all around the hospital and we even took X-rays … including dunking them in the solution to develop them.

“I’ll never forget taking one chest X-ray and the man had a nipple ring – I’d never seen one before!” Judy said.

HOSPITAL NUMBER TWO: Turning 60 and soon to be mothballed

HOSPITAL NUMBER TWO: Turning 60 and soon to be mothballed

The family atmosphere was another aspect fondly recalled.

“The enrolled nurses were like mothers to some of us – they would pull you into line but they would also look after you,” Sue Rogers said.

Darryl Graham has spent his entire working life of 40 years at the hospital.

“I began as a wardsman and then in 2001 that was changed to being health/security assistant,” Darryl said.

“It’s been a good fulfilling job – I’ve met a lot of great colleagues and I’ve raised my family on my earnings … a permanent job in this area is precious.”

Director of Nursing, Janelle Goodall, pointed out the passing of time in the difference of costs:

“This hospital cost 250,000 pounds to build and had an annual expenditure of 65,000 pounds. Our annual budget is about $20 million and the new facility’s price tag is $73 million,” Janelle said.

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