Reunion prescribed

FIFTY years ago this week 24 young women commenced nursing studies at Fremantle Hospital.

Last Sunday 14 of the 16 who graduated reunited at Market Street’s La Sosta restaurant, swapping memories and stories and discussing the future of a hospital that next week loses its emergency department and tertiary status.

Anne Ormsby graduated in 1968 and retired in 2010, working at Fremantle and later Hollywood.

“We had to live in nurses’ lodgings the whole three years of our studies,” she recalls, smiling, “and we had to be in by midnight.”

As for working, the training was on the job and military-like.

“There was a strict hierarchical system of the ward sister, staff nurses—who you only spoke to if spoken to first, and always with your hands behind your back—and then the third, second and first-year sisters.

• Left: Anne Ormsby, now. Above: Front: Annette Westhoff, Bernadette Holmes, Fran Rice (dec.), Kath Hoare (nee Cox) • Middle: Helen Thomas (nee Furzer), Pippa Rae, Jill Walter (nee McClintock), Sonja Kitcher (nee Meydam), Gaye Edgecombe, Margaret Wyllie, Sue Keen • Back: Barbara Golightly, Peta Nottle (nee Rebechi), Anne Ormsby (nee Goldsir), Anne Dowie (nee Palmer) and Coralie Carew (nee Lewis)

• Left: Anne Ormsby, now. Above: Front: Annette Westhoff, Bernadette Holmes, Fran Rice (dec.), Kath Hoare (nee Cox) • Middle: Helen Thomas (nee Furzer), Pippa Rae, Jill Walter (nee McClintock), Sonja Kitcher (nee Meydam), Gaye Edgecombe, Margaret Wyllie, Sue Keen • Back: Barbara Golightly, Peta Nottle (nee Rebechi), Anne Ormsby (nee Goldsir), Anne Dowie (nee Palmer) and Coralie Carew (nee Lewis)

“In our first year we’d be on ‘ins and outs’—we found out very quickly if we couldn’t hack it, having to deal with poo and vomit—then drinks, then dressings under supervision and so on.

“Now, trained nurses are much closer to what doctors did, with many of the duties we used to do now done by [personal care assistants] and others.

“Nurses are far superior technically now but lack some of that hospital training.

“You might get someone saying now, ‘that’s not my job’ if a patient wants a cup of tea. Well, just get the cup of tea, or ask a PCA to get it, but look after the patient first.”

Ms Ormsby is saddened by Fremantle’s demise as a full tertiary hospital but is hopeful the changes will lead to better health outcomes overall.

by BRIAN MITCHELL

One response to “Reunion prescribed

  1. The bewildering thing about what is happening at Fremantle Hospital is, before long in historical terms, will all have to be reinstated in some form. In the meantime, Fremantle as a place to visit and live, becomes less attractive.

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