Archived News Item

New Mater Mothers’ hospitals opened

On Friday May 30, 2008 the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, Private and Public, were blessed and opened by the Most Reverend John Bathersby, Archbishop of Brisbane, and Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, Governor of Queensland in the presence of the Honourable Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland, Congregation Leader of the Brisbane Sisters of Mercy, Sister Sandra Lupi RSM, and invited guests.

Photo: Sister Regis Mary, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd,
Sister Peg Slack, Sister Sandra Lupi (Congregation Leader)

“What promises to be the most outstanding work of these good sisters is the founding of a maternity hospital which will be up-to-date in every respect and will benefit not only mothers and their newborn children but the whole community. Healthy happy children should be born under the most favourable conditions, and this is exactly what the Sisters of Mercy are providing for in the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals.”

These words, spoken by the Most Reverend Sir James Duhig, Archbishop of Brisbane, at the opening of the first Mater Mothers’ Hospitals at the end of 1960, could well have been repeated again last Friday at the opening of the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals within the same Mater Complex.

With a focus on inclusion, caring for anyone who needs assistance and a commitment to pursuing innovation and excellence in health care, the Mater has made its mark as a ‘whole of health care’ provider. It is within this great tradition that the Mater Mothers’ Hospitals have served the community since 1961.

In 1961 the financing of the Mater Mothers’ Hospitals was the responsibility of the Sisters of Mercy. With very little government subsidy, the hospitals were built with the co-operation of the public. Founded on hard work, dedication, lamington drives and fetes, fundraising saw the community donate an incredible 96 per cent of construction costs. (This hard work and dedication was acknowledged at the completion of the opening ceremonies on Friday by the provision of lamingtons in the lunch bags offered to the guests.) 
During the ceremony Archbishop Bathersby of Brisbane paid tribute to the Mercy Sisters’ significant contribution to God’s Kingdom:

“Over the years (the hospitals) have already contributed significantly to the well being of the city of Brisbane, the State of Queensland, the mission of the Church in this archdiocese, and ultimately to the greater glory of God…. The Sisters of Mercy have picked up that living word and run with it and today we congratulate them on this significant contribution to God’s Kingdom in these splendid buildings that have already been established here on Mater Hill and that will be significantly expanded through this new building today.”

Since its first birth in 1961 the Mater Mothers Hospitals have assisted in the births of more than 260,000 babies. One in six Queenslanders have been born at the Mater. As a tertiary facility, the Mater also provides both referral and retrieval services to the whole of the State of Queensland and Northern NSW.

As we celebrated the blessing and official opening of the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, Mater Health Services and the Sisters of Mercy are proud to unveil a new chapter in the rich history of the organisation and the continued provision of exceptional, compassionate care for which they are known.

In her vote of thanks at the end of the ceremonies Sister Sandra Lupi, Congregation Leader, said: “Catherine McAuley’s approach to mission was characterised by collaboration, innovation, and a high level of professionalism. She encouraged her sisters to work in partnership with others to achieve the best results. She believed in doing everything well and in providing the very best of services. She would be as proud – as we are – of the strong leadership present at the Mater today; the model of collaboration with government, and the medical and health care profession.”

Funded jointly by Queensland Health and Mater Health Services, the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals will continue to build on the traditions of the owners, the Sisters of Mercy.

In welcoming the Premier of Queensland, Ms Anna Bligh, Dr John O’Donnell, the CEO of Mater Health Services said: “Today’s ceremony would not have been possible without the commitment of the Queensland Government and Queensland Health to a continuing partnership with the Mater. This partnership has enabled the highly cost effective construction of the new Mater Mothers’ public and private hospitals as two institutions which share common service infrastructure.”

This historic occasion marks an important milestone for Queensland as these facilities will deliver a new era in maternity care and provide expanded services to meet the growing health care needs of the community.

The Mater Mothers’ facility has been built on a model of ‘wellness’ rather than ‘sickness’. That is, for the majority of people, preparation for birth, the event of birth and post birth care are natural processes. Yet, as a major tertiary level hospital, there are some patients who require the most advanced and specialist care. Therefore, the new hospital is a balance of wellness and highly specialised care. No matter what the need of the patient, it is paramount that the care provided is aligned with the mission and values of the Mater. The values of mercy, care, dignity, commitment and quality describe both the behaviour and the environment that the Mater strives to provide to the patients, visitors and staff.

Dr John O’Donnell also acknowledged with thanks and a great sense of pride the staff of the Mater Hospitals who continued to provide an excellent level of clinical care to patients with no reduction in services throughout the 30 months of building work.

“Exceptional seems the right word for your good humour, endurance and flexibility,” he said.

Photo: Mater Foundation Stone at the entrance to the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals. The eiderdown blanket is a symbol of comfort and care. The illusion of carved soft folds, beading and crumpling of the cloth eludes to the Mater’s values of mercy, dignity, quality, commitment and care. Using the local Northern Queensland white marble, the artist, Alexander Seton, carefully carved the illusion of softness, so that to the casual eye the blanket appears to be real – welcome, soft, warm and inviting. This sense of welcome and openness felt appropriate as the foundation stone to the Mater Mother’s Hospitals.

From: Sister Elizabeth O’Keefe RSM (Local Communications Facilitator, Brisbane)