With construction of the next Mudgee Hospital storming ahead some of the old buildings have made way for the new facility - most visibly the former Community Health in Church Street which was previously the Nurses’ Accommodation.
So now is an opportune time to take a look at the history of these structures and how the role the town played in nursing.
Nurses were once trained at Mudgee District Hospital.
In 2005, in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the hospital, the Mudgee Guardian spoke to Joan Carlisle (nee Mills) who was one of the first nurses trained there after applying to a position advertised in The Land.
She recalled mostly hands-on, practical training although they did go to a tutor once or twice a week.
And as a trainee Joan resided in the Nurses’ Accommodation building and for two years they would walk across to the hospital to start work.
“[It] was quite exciting because we were all together,” she said in the article.
“Life was so different as far as our social lives too. We would come off duty at 9pm and all go walking down the street into town together.
“There were dances and we never had a problem getting a date. It was such good fun and such innocent times.”
From isolation to Nursing School
In November the Dental Clinic was moved to a new temporary building on Lewis Street, just behind the current emergency department. This required the removal of a building that plenty of people had likely seen before, but most probably wouldn’t know what it was used for.
Built in 1938 – predating the current hospital itself – it started life as the old hospital’s isolation block, but became redundant with the advancement of modern medicine, immunisation, and public sanitation. It was converted to the maternity ward until the current hospital was built, after which is was mostly unused for some time.
The building received a new lease on life as the Lynda Doughan School of Nursing, after Matron Doughan and the Ladies Auxiliary pushed to have it converted into a nurse education centre. Speaking on behalf of the medical officers and staff at the official opening, Dr Fothergill said, “it will be a wonderful benefit to this and other hospitals, whereever our nurses go”.
“Our thanks must go to the Hospital Auxiliary and Matron Doughan for their contribution. Modern medicine is becoming more complex each year and it follows that nursing education should keep up.”
The Mudgee District Hospital annual report published on June 30, 1977, spoke of the changes to the style of nursing care delivered during that year.
This included the loss of the hospital’s General Nurse Training Status. Along with the advent of Community Health services and care available from trained people providing a diversity of support to patients in and on discharge from hospital.
And the introduction of the ‘Day Centre’, seeing people with ongoing needs and problems rather than checking them in as patients. Care was also expanded and accompanying techniques introduced by visiting specialists who are now attached to the hospital, the report read.
Nursing was also changed somewhat by the arrival of specialist aged care facilities – Mudgee’s Pioneer House and Kanandah were opened around decade prior – taking some of that away from the hospital. According to NSW Health, the most common entry point to become a Registered Nurse is completion of a Bachelor of Nursing course at university, usually three years full-time or the equivalent part-time.
This article was produced from the Mudgee Guardian/The Weekly archives and with thanks to the Mudgee Historical Society. It is the first of four installments on the history of the local hospital with the next taking a look at Mudgee’s private hospitals.