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A celebration of community 50 years on

by S Lowe newsonline wattlerangenow

Over 70 people braved the South Eastern winter weather to celebrate  the Millicent and District Hospital’s 50 years serving the people of Millicent and surrounding districts, on Saturday 28th June 2014.Representatives from prior  boards, staff, nurses, matrons, hospital auxiliary, health advisory board, medical clinic, volunteers and council gathered to mark the occasion.

Country Health SA Regional Director Jayne Downs welcomed all who sheltered from the inclement weather, under the protective tenting. Most kept reasonably dry, except for one Councillor who experienced the indignity of being seated on a very wet chair; but in the spirit of the day his sense of humour prevailed!

Jayne and Brenton 2

Regional Director SE Jayne Downs and Brenton Dohnt HAC

Presiding Health Advisory member Brenton Dohnt address the crowd with  the traditional welcome. CEO Country Health SA Maree Gerahaty, Helen Chalmers CHSA, Mayor Gandolfi and former matron Val Stewart sent their apologies. Mr Dohnt recognised the contribution of all past and present staff and the support of the community. He read from a letter from Mrs Mary Harris who sent her best wishes for a successful 50 year celebration.


Mitch and Ladies 2

Hon Mitch Williams, former nurses Daphne Atkinson and Florence McRostie

Former nurse of both the Thyne Memorial and Millicent Hospitals, Daphne Atkinson, gave the blessing.

“ Gracious God, as we celebrate 50 years of this hospital, we thank every person who has been involved in any capacity and may they receive this blessing and may this hospital continue to serve the community.”

Ms Atkinson was the last and the oldest enrolled nurse,  beginning her training at 50 years of age. She displayed tax returns from her first years working at the Thyne Memorial Hospital in 1955  and again in 1989, noting the variation in wages over the years of her career.

She shared memories of moving patients from the Thyne Memorial Hospital to the new Millicent Hospital in 1964 and again when patients were moved from the Matheson Wing to the new Sheoak Lodge in 1995. These are memories she shared with Mary Harris who also volunteered to help with both transitions. Although living in Adelaide now, she still has fond memories of Millicent.

” It is vital that communities have good health care, from birth to death and may it continue in Millicent,” she said.

John and Don

Cr John Drew and Don Gilbertson

Councillor John Drew, represented  Wattle Range Council/Mayor Gandolfi, who had a prior engagement.

In 1945, Cr Altschwager reported to the Tantanoola Council, at a meeting between the Chief Secretary and members of the Board of Management of the Thyne Memorial Hospital, that the question of a new hospital had been raised at a cost of 30,000 pounds. It was suggested that a rate of sixpence in the pound, to yield 10,000 pounds in seven years, be levied on the assessments of the contributing councils – no finality reached.

Cr Drew made his speech available to wattlerangenow:-

In 1961, the tender was 207,423 pounds and with the addition of the nurse’s homes and gardens it was 302,000 pounds. Cr Drew remarked – ‘let’s not even think what it would be in today’s dollars!’

Cr Drew said, the day was about the hospital building, but “what really makes a building a hospital is the people, and Millicent hospital has a fantastic record for caring for people. People like Nurse Marlene Fennell, Dr David Harris and the ongoing hardworking and skilful doctors and nurses of today. The cleaners, administration staff, maintenance workers.”

“Many will remember Tom Prowse, “ he said, “and in the days of a community hospital where every penny counted, his supply of Tarzan’s Grip gave new life to many a broken piece of medical equipment.”

“Board members, and later HAC members, volunteers, auxiliaries, visitors, service clubs and groups like the Cancer Support Group, have ensured the hospital is equipped with extras that government doesn’t supply.”

“The hospital has been supported by many fundraising ventures, one was mentioned in the Adelaide Register in 1912 of the Japanese Village festival arranged by Barry Jaegers and raising the sum of 510 pounds.”

Cr Drew closed with the reminder that there are challenges going forward and there will be an ongoing fight to ensure that quality health services continue to be provided at Millicent in this hospital.

“Health care is becoming increasingly expensive and there are moves to increase efficiency by centralizing health provision and administration. We know that centralization has its problems. As a community we need to be watchful; and keep the pressure on the Department of Health to ensure our services are not diluted further. The squeaky door needs and gets the oil.”

Golden Celebration Roses will be planted at the entrance of the hospital to mark the occasion. The official rose planting ceremony was delayed due to the weather but all participants joined in with good humour and took part in a token ceremony, planting the roses in buckets.

Member for MacKillop Mitch Williams unveiled the new plaque to commemorate the 50 year celebrations.

Mitch unveiling

Member for McKillop unveils the new plaque commemorating the Hospitals 50 year anniversary.


Devonshire tea  prepared by the Hospital Auxiliary in Banksia House consisted of an endless supply of scones, a variety of jams, mountains of silken whipped cream and bottomless cups of tea and coffee.


Millicent Hospital Auxiliary – Maryanne Stuckey, Anna Bateman, Nan Ballatyne, Annie Bell, Toni McGrath

A new memorabilia cabinet containing items collected over the 50 years history of the hospital has been installed in the foyer of the Hospital by the Hospital Auxiliary.

D.O.N. of Millicent Hospital Ros Brown cut the celebration cake. A uniform provided by Florence McRostie was on display in the foyer of the Hospital.

Mr John Andre attended the event recalling the opening of the Hospital 50 years ago which he also attended. He paid tribute to the community’s contribution in the establishment of the hospital. The day held particular significance to him as his parents had made a significant contribution to the hospital. He also acknowledge the many people from the community who had done the same. The hospital was built due to a community of people who saw the need and got the job done.



CHSA Regional Director Jayne Downs said, “The common element in the country is the passion of communities about their health care. The relationship between hospital and community in country SA is un-matched. This community got behind their hospital as far back as Thyne Memorial Hospital. It’s a different era now though; would a community do this now with the cost of everything?”

“Today is a celebration for Millicent and for country. Country communities support their hospitals from the smallest to the largest. This community can be proud and I am confident that the community will continue to support the hospital,” said Jayne Downs.

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