1961 - 1980

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Mater Mothers’ Hospital breaks new ground

After officially opening the year prior, on 2 February 1961 Mater Mothers' Hospital admitted its first women, and welcomed its first babies, exactly fifty years after the first patients were admitted to Mater Public Hospital. A further 2996 babies were born in the hospital's first year of operation. 

Mater Mothers’ also welcomed its first intake of midwifery students in 1961. This commitment to teaching would be further solidified in 1968 with the construction of The University of Queensland clinical and teaching research unit.

From a clinical perspective, Queensland’s first baby to survive three inter-uterine blood transfusions was born and cared for at Mater Mothers' Hospital. Baby John and his mother were Rh incompatible (when a baby's Rhesus positive blood conflicts with the mother's negative blood).

In the 1970s, Mater Mothers expanded existing services to premature babies, opening a Neonatal Special Care Unit in December 1976. The following year, the first neonatal retrieval in Queensland was instigated by Mater using then Premier of Queensland, Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson’s, plane.

This commitment to caring for Queensland’s smallest babies was supported by the opening of the Mater Growth and Development Clinic in April 1978. Managed by Professor David Tudehope, the clinic evaluated the progress of infants born weighing less than 1500 grams and babies whose lives depended on a respirator.

The Neonatal Emergency Transport Service, NETS, was also formally inaugurated in April 1978 when twins were transported from Toowoomba.  

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Mater Children’s Hospital fire

On 12 May 1971 a fire erupted in the ceiling and roof structure of the university section at the rear of Mater Children’s Hospital. Each one of the 119 young patients was evacuated in a calm, purposeful manner and newspapers provided extensive coverage of nurses carrying children out of the hospital. The media coverage inspired the community, with many donations and offers of help received. Queensland Newspapers, particularly its chairman, Reg Leonard, took a close look at the needs of Brisbane’s two children’s hospitals. His first step was to make the hospitals beneficiaries of the Good Friday Appeal conducted by 4BK, which was owned by the newspaper group. This impetus created the perfect climate to present a major submission to the government on the urgent needs of both the Adult and Children’s Hospitals. Furthermore, the Sisters began making long-term plans for Mater’s future. In late 1971, construction on a three floor extension commenced at the Mater Children’s site.

Five years later, on 9 March 1976 a new wing at Mater Children's Hospital opened, thus finally completing the original 1931 design plans.

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A new Mater Adult Hospital

In 1975, plans for a new Mater Adult Hospital were announced. The decision to build a new Mater Adult Hospital came after much discussion and negotiation by Mater to gain government support for which it had lobbied over many decades. The original hospital, which had been operating since 1911 would be replaced by a new 126 bed facility providing a wide range of surgical, medical and cancer services.

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Mater Health Services would like to acknowledge Helen Gregory, author of Expressions of Mercy. Mater has used information, as appropriate, from this publication to support the creation of this website.