History by category: Mater Children’s Hospital

Farewell Mater Children's Hospital

On 29 November 2014, after providing exceptional care to Queensland children for more than 83 years, Mater Children’s Hospital closed, and government-funded paediatric services transitioned to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.

Mater will continue to offer paediatric services for privately-insured patients through Mater Children’s Private Brisbane and will enhance services for young people through Queensland’s first dedicated adolescent and young adult health service. Mater Mothers’ Hospitals will continue to grow and deliver the highest standards of maternity and neonatal care.

Tags: Mater Children’s Hospital, Mater Children's Private Brisbane, Mater Mothers' Hospital

Past and future reflected in new building names

Following the closure of Mater Children’s Hospital, and to reflect on our rich heritage and links with our founders, the Sisters of Mercy, two buildings on ‘Mater Hill’ were renamed on 29 November 2014.

The Mater Children’s Hospital building and Mater Corporate Services Building were renamed to commemorate the significance and vision of Mother Alban Salmon and Mother Damian Duncombe OBE.

The Mater Children’s Hospital building was renamed as the Salmon Building (in memory of Mother Alban Salmon, 1880 to 1951) and the Mater Corporate Services Building became the Duncombe Building (in memory of Mother Damian Duncombe OBE, 1899 to 1980).

Tags: Mater Children’s Hospital, Sisters of Mercy

Meeting the healthcare needs of children

By the mid-1920s, the Sisters of Mercy were providing healthcare services to adults via Mater Private Hospital and Mater Public Hospital.

However, Mother Patrick Potter was determined to build a children’s hospital to meet the healthcare needs of Brisbane’s growing population. A contract to build the hospital for 50 000 pounds was signed with F.J Corbett and Sons.

Hall and Prentice —the architectural firm who designed the original Mater Private Hospital—were again called upon for the children’s hospital, with a proviso by the Sisters that every effort be made to source building materials and equipment locally.

The dream of Mother Patrick Potter, after whom the hospital was eventually named, was to build an 80-bed modern public hospital, complete with medical and surgical beds, a nursery for ill babies and an operating theatre.

On 24 May 1926, Mother Patrick Potter watched the foundation stone being laid, before construction commenced the following year. Because of financial constraints, construction of the building was limited to one-half of what had been intended, with provision being allowed for completion at a future date. Sadly, Mother Patrick Potter passed away in November 1927, and would not see Mater Children’s Hospital open.

On 10 May 1931, almost five years to the day after the foundation stone was laid, Mater Children’s Hospital officially opened, dedicated as a memorial to Mother Patrick Potter. On 6 July 1931, Mater Children's Hospital opened its doors to patients. Every bed was immediately occupied, and more than 8200 patients were treated in its first year of operation.

Tags: Mater Children’s Hospital, Mother Patrick Potter

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.

Tags: Mater Children’s Hospital

Mater Children’s Hospital expands to meet growing demands

On 15 October 1981, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a special guest visitor to Mater. Her pastoral visit was a highlight of the Golden Jubilee for Mater Children’s Hospital. Since opening fifty years earlier in 1931, Mater Children’s Hospital had become an integral to the paediatric healthcare landscape in Queensland.  

During the 1980s, specialist clinics at Mater Children’s Hospital became increasingly important; and clinic numbers increased from 25 to 42 between 1977 and 1980. These clinics covered areas including diabetes, cleft palate and cranio-facial conditions, and cystic fibrosis. In 1984, Sister Marie Fitzgerald’s Spina Bifida Clinic (the School Function Clinic), and a respiratory laboratory to help address Brisbane’s high rates of asthma in children, also opened. Three years later in 1987, Queensland's first Paediatric Sleep Unit was established at the hospital. 

To support this increase in services, facilities gradually began expanding. A new McAuley wing with an infants’ ward, and The University of Queensland Department of Child Health Officers were opened. The Mater School was also constructed by the Queensland Government on land donated by the Sisters of Mercy.

The expansion of services marked Mater Children’s Hospital’s development as a large tertiary-level paediatric facility. By 1990, the emergency department was often the busiest in Queensland.

As an extension of support for families with children being cared for at the hospital, Ronald McDonald House opened on Allen Street in 1990.

Two years later, in 1992, Mater came under pressure to move Mater Children’s Hospital to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital at Mt Gravatt. In a response to the State Government, the Sisters of Mercy stated the hospital must not only remain with the Mater family at South Brisbane, but that the state should support its redevelopment.

In 1998, Queensland's first comprehensive Paediatric Epilepsy Centre was opened at Mater Children's Hospital.

The same year, on 9 March 1998 Mater opened Australia’s first private paediatric facility—Mater Children's Private Hospital. The new 25 bed hospital, based on a seaside theme, was bright and cheerful, and each patient's room had its own computer with internet access.   

In 1999, Australia's first formal study into pet therapy for children in hospital commenced at Mater Children’s Hospital.

Tags: Mater Children’s Hospital, Mater Children's Private Hospital

The new Mater Children’s Hospital

As a specialist referral centre for young patients from all over Queensland, northern New South Wales and beyond, Mater Children’s Hospital faced increasing pressure on its services during the latter part of the 1980s and early 1990s. In order to relieve that strain and ensure it was well equipped to face the medical challenges of the 21st century, Mater committed to constructing two new Children's Hospitals for privately insured and non-insured patients. On 16 May 2001, a new Mater Children's Hospital and Mater Children's Private Hospital was officially opened on Stanley Street by the Governor of Queensland, His Excellency Major-General Peter Arnison, AC and blessed by the Archbishop of Brisbane, The Most Reverend John Bathersby, DD.       

The new Mater Children’s Hospital, with its external façade designed to reflect the essence of Queensland—blue skies and brown land, sparkling seas and tranquil creeks—was designed to be family-focused. Overnight accommodation was provided for parents in every ward and single room, parent lounges and special relaxation areas for teenagers were created, indoor and outdoor play areas were designed and ample space allowed for performers visiting the hospital.

Ceramic tiles designed by children were installed on many walls; windows and service counters were built at child height; the chapel was designed to be welcoming to children and, in 2003, a bright, light-hearted animal mural was painted on a corridor wall to lead children from ward areas to play areas.

The new hospital also became the first in Queensland with a Starlight Room contributed by the Starlight Foundation and supported by Australian tennis champion Pat Rafter.

On 12 June 2008, The Queensland Paediatric Cardiac Service was officially opened at Mater Children's Hospital by the Minister for Health, The Hon. Stephen Robertson MP and blessed by the Auxiliary Bishop for Brisbane, The Most Reverend Brian Finnigan, DD.  

On 6 July 2011, Mater Children's Hospital celebrates its 80th birthday with a special birthday party.

Tags: Mater Children’s Hospital, Mater Children's Private Hospital

News by category: Mater Children’s Hospital

Reflecting on the history of Mater Children’s Hospital

Thursday, 7 August 2014

After providing public healthcare services for more than 83 years, Mater’s government-funded paediatric services will transition to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in late 2014.

In the lead up to this transition, we look back at the establishment of Mater Children’s Hospital.

Caring for children—the Sisters of Mercy extend their healthcare services

“I foresee a very great future for this hospital: I foresee it carrying out the most modern and scientific work; I foresee it as providing service of the best and the highest nature for the people, not only of Brisbane, but of the whole State.” His Excellency, Sir John Goodwin, Governor of Queensland, at the official opening of Mater Children’s Hospital.

By the mid-1920s, the Sisters of Mercy were providing healthcare services to adults via Mater Private Hospital and Mater Public Hospital.

However, Mother Patrick Potter was determined to build a children’s hospital to meet the healthcare needs of Brisbane’s growing population.

A contract to build the hospital for 50 000 pounds was signed with F.J Corbett and Sons. Hall and Prentice—the architectural firm who designed the original Mater Private Hospital—were again called upon for the children’s hospital, with a proviso by the Sisters that every effort be made to source building materials and equipment locally.

The dream of Mother Patrick Potter, after whom the hospital was eventually named, was to build an 80-bed modern public hospital, complete with medical and surgical beds, a nursery for ill babies and an operating theatre.

On 24 May 1926, Mother Patrick Potter watched the foundation stone being laid, before construction commenced the following year. Because of financial constraints, construction of the building was limited to one-half of what had been intended, with provision being allowed for completion at a future date.

Sadly, Mother Patrick Potter passed away in November 1927, and did not see Mater Children’s Hospital open.

On 10 May 1931, almost five years to the day after the foundation stone was laid, Mater Children’s Hospital officially opened, dedicated as a memorial to Mother Patrick Potter.

Tags: Mater Children’s Hospital, Mater Private Hospital, Mother Patrick Potter, Sisters of Mercy

Past reflected in new Mater building names

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Two building names on Mater Hill will change at the end of November 2014, reflecting on Mater’s rich heritage and links with our founders, the Sisters of Mercy. The Mater Children’s Hospital building and Mater Corporate Services Building will be named after the Sisters of Mercy to commemorate the significance and vision of Mother Alban Salmon and Mother Damian Duncombe OBE.

From 29 November 2014, the current Mater Children’s Hospital building will be renamed the Salmon Building (in memory of Mother Alban Salmon, 1880 to 1951) and the Mater Corporate Services Building will be renamed the Duncombe Building (in memory of Mother Damian Duncombe OBE, 1899 to 1980).

Mother Alban Salmon (1880 to 1951) was a shrewd and determined leader with a strong sense of direction. Born in Ireland in 1880, Mother Salmon came to Queensland in November 1902. After teaching in various Sisters of Mercy schools, she was Mistress of Novices before she was elected Reverend Mother (Congregation Leader) in 1923.

Mother Alban’s vision was to ensure that Mater became a clinical school for The University of Queensland’s Faculty of Medicine. This dream became a reality in 1949. Part of the strategy in achieving this goal was the announcement in 1946 of the construction of a maternity hospital. By providing training in obstetrics for Mater’s resident medical officers, Mater Mothers’ Hospital elevated the Mater campus into a large and complex hospital system, entrenching it as a vital part of Queensland’s hospital network.

Mother Damian Duncombe OBE (1899 to 1980) was the first Australian-born woman to lead the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy. Born in Hughenden in 1899, she taught at All Hallows’ School from 1927 to 1944 when she became the Superior at Mater and, in 1950, its first Sister Administrator. An able administrator with a keen interest in new ideas and new methods, Mother Damian started the McAuley Teachers’ College, reflecting her determination that the young Sisters would be educated. She also established the Sisters’ mission in New Guinea.

She was elected Reverend Mother (Congregation Leader) in 1954 and first president of the Federation of the Sisters of Mercy Australia in 1956. Mother Damian was passionately interested in Mater Mothers’ Hospital, which opened in December 1960 and admitted its first patients on 2 February 1961—exactly 50 years after the first patients were admitted to Mater Public and 100 years after the Sisters’ arrival in Queensland.

Both Mother Alban and Mother Damian were, along with their fellow Sisters, instrumental in Mater’s growth in the twentieth century. The Salmon and Duncombe Buildings will harmoniously blend with existent buildings on Mater Hill named after the Sisters of Mercy (Potter and Whitty buildings), bringing a total of four buildings across the campus whose names reflect the Sisters’ deep connection to Mater’s heritage.

The name changes take effect from 29 November, the day that Mater Children’s Hospital transitions to the new government-funded Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.

In addition, as Mater’s services continue to extend further off Mater Hill, Mater Adult Hospital will be renamed Mater Hospital Brisbane. This change will better reflect the position of the hospital in relation to the ongoing development of Mater’s broader geographic services, such as Mater Private Hospital Springfield, our three health centres around Brisbane and our growing number of pathology and pharmacy services across South East Queensland.

Tags: Mater Children’s Hospital, Sisters of Mercy

Mater Children's Hospital Farewell

Thursday, 20 November 2014

On Saturday 1 November 2014, more than 250 people gathered to farewell Mater Children’s Hospital, before Mater’s government-funded paediatric services transition to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital later this month.

Most Reverend Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, members of the Sisters of Mercy Brisbane Congregation, and representatives from Queensland Health and Mercy Partners gathered with Mater People and members of the community to reflect on 83 years of exceptional care provided at Mater Children’s Hospital.

Since opening in 1931, the hospital has provided specialist paediatric healthcare services to children throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales. It is a second home to many patients and their families and cares for more than 250 000 children each year.

Mater Health Services Chief Executive Officer Dr John O’Donnell said Mater Children’s Hospital is a much-loved part of the Brisbane community.

“We’ve been a part of the lives of generations of Queensland families and we are sad to be saying farewell to Mater Children’s Hospital,” he said.

On 29 November 2014, Mater Children’s Hospital will close and services transfer into the new government-owned and operated Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. The new hospital combines Royal Children’s Hospital and Mater Children’s Hospital in a single children’s hospital which will offer the best facilities and services for high-level paediatric care in Queensland.

Mater will continue to offer paediatric services for privately-insured patients through Mater Children’s Private Brisbane and will enhance services for young people through Queensland’s first dedicated adolescent and young adult health service. Mater Mothers’ Hospitals will continue to grow and deliver the highest standards of maternity and neonatal care.

“The Mater Values, instilled by the Sisters of Mercy, have always guided every decision Mater makes as a Catholic healthcare organisation.

“The decision to hand over Mater Children’s Hospital, while sad for us will result in the best care for the children of Queensland.

“Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital will offer the best facilities and services for high-level tertiary paediatric care in Queensland, in one location,” Dr O’Donnell said.

The farewell concluded with a video featuring reflections on Mater Children’s Hospital from the Sisters of Mercy, and current and former staff, doctors, volunteers and patients.

Tags: Mater Children’s Hospital