Archived News Item

Mater Hospitals joy at 100th birthday

On January 4.Sisters of Mercy, staff, past patients and supporters gathered at South Brisbane to mark the start of the Mater’s centenary year. Among them were acting Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and 101-year-old patient Letitia Wood, who has a long association with the Mater. Sr Sandra Lupi, Congregation Leader of the Brisbane Sisters of Mercy described the development of Mater Misericordiae Health Services in Brisbane as a story of faith, courage and innovation from its first beginning in 1906 to the present day. On the Mater Cross is inscribed the motto which underpins the philosophy and mission of the Mater “˜For God and Humanity‘. And while the Mater is not unique in providing compassionate care to the sick and needy, Sr Sandra said, “What is deserving of our highest praise is that ever since this day in 1906, the Mater has continued to provide this service despite the financial, political or social hardships and challenges of the times.”

Mater Health Services chief executive officer Dr John O’Donnell said the hospitals complex has touched nearly every person who has lived in Brisbane, whether as a patient or through friends and family. One in six Queenslanders were born at the Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, he said.

Mater Health Services is owned by the Sisters of Mercy and cares for more than 500,000 patients each year as well as employing more than 5000 staff.

The Mater’s story began when the Sisters of Mercy recognised a desperate need for health care services in the community and in 1893 bought 10 acres of land for 7000 pounds at South Brisbane. However, it wasn’t until 1906 that the sisters opened their first 20-bed private hospital, “Aubigny”, in a former residential home at North Quay.

In its first year, this small fee-paying hospital cared for 141 patients and allowed the Sisters of Mercy to realise their vision to provide a free public health service for the people of Brisbane. The sisters opened a new private hospital at South Brisbane in 1910 and a public hospital on the same site in 1911.

“There are many outstanding triumphs in Mater’s history such as establishing Brisbane’s first blood transfusion service during World War II, developing a service for HIV/AIDS patients in the 1980s,opening the first children’s private hospital in Australia and being the first hospital in Australia to successfully treat Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome using foetal laser surgery,” Dr O’Donnell said.

“We are proud of our heritage and look forward to continuing our journey in the footsteps of the Sisters of Mercy as we grow and provide an innovative health care service to those who need it,” he said.

Ms Bligh praised the work of the Mater and announced an additional $12.6 million in upgrades to the hospital, including $9.2 million for a replacement helipad.

“For more than 100 years hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders have been treated by the Mater’s dedicated medical and nursing staff,” Ms Bligh said.

“The Mater is rightly recognised as one of Australia’s most outstanding medical centres.

“The Sisters of Mercy (and their supporters) can rightly steal a moment of great pride knowing that for 100 years they have more than honoured their commitment to compassionate service to the sick and needy. “The Mater’s growth from a 20-bed hospital to a world class group of seven hospitals and a research institute is indeed an inspirational story,” she said.

from The Catholic Leader, Brisbane, January 15, 2006