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Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences

Chapter L. — Various Ceremonies at Hospitals and Tributes to Matrons

page 239

Chapter L.
Various Ceremonies at Hospitals and Tributes to Matrons.

The appreciation of a matron by her Board is worthy of record. At the Palmerston North Hospital for many years, the Matrons Miss Dougherty and Miss McLaglan, had been supreme; had done all the management, acted as resident medical officers, under the honoraries, who deputed to them much of the treatment of the patients. Later, when on account of the enlarged hospital, a medical superintendent was appointed, with resident medical officers to assist him, the responsibility of the matrons was of course, greatly decreased. The Board, however, recognised what splendid work had been done by the Matrons in the past, and in recognition of this, had commissioned Mrs. Tripe, a Wellington artist, to paint a portrait of her. The project of having this portrait had been originated by the nursing staff, but the Board took it up, and encouraged the idea, and the whole of the honorary medical staff, nursing and domestic staff joined in.

Sir James Wilson, Chairman for many years of the Hospital, unveiled the portrait in the main corridor. It represents Miss McLaglan in her uniform of white dress and cap, just as she was known to all, and is a speaking life size picture.

The occasion of opening a memorial to Dr. Martin, who gave his life during the War, took place at the same page 240 time; the memorial took the form of two new wards and a kitchen block, and was subscribed for by the people of the Palmerston district.

The widow of Dr. Martin opened the new wards.

I had the privilege of being present at these two functions, and in the evening was invited to a dance the staff were giving in one of the new wards, which were still unfurnished. It was a pleasure to see the young nurses enjoying the relaxation they deserved after a strenuous day.

A ceremony at which I was present at the Wellington Hospital, was the unveiling of a tablet to the memory of Miss Frances Keith Payne, who had been Matron of the institution for nearly 20 years. This tablet was the result of subscriptions from past and present Wellington Hospital nurses, and by permission of the Board, was placed in the main corridor of the hospital. It was unveiled by Mr. Luke, the long time Chairman of the Hospital, who made a speech appreciative of the late matron, and her work. This was followed by speeches from Dr. Hardwicke Smith and Dr. Elliott, honorary members of the staff, and a very eloquent tribute to Miss Payne's memory was paid by Miss Thurston, C.B.E., R.R.C., who had been trained by her.

As well as this tablet, another was unveiled in November, 1925, on the wall of St. Mark's Church. Besides these tablets, it was arranged that a medal should be given annually to the nurse who, passing her State examination with credit, could also be recommended by the matron and medical superintendent for her all-round qualifications, as one with the highest ideals of her profession.

So far, only two nurses have been given the medal, together with which was given a small pamphlet which I page 241 was requested to write, setting forth the object of the medal and giving a short account of Miss Payne's work.

Another tribute to a matron was the memorial erected by the Westland Hospital Board to the late Matron, Miss Little, who died at the hospital after a long illness. This memorial takes the form of a group of five lights on a concrete pedestal on a plot of flowers.

Another nurse honoured by the erection of a tablet to her memory, in the vestibule of the Nurses' Home at Dunedin Hospital, was Sister James. Sister James had spent the greater part of her life in the service of the Dunedin Hospital, and was most highly respected and beloved by everyone.

At the same time a tablet was unveiled to the memory of the nurses who died on active service, and of those nurses and V.A.D.'s, who died in the influenza epidemic.