History by category: World War I

Mater’s healthcare moves into the public sector

On 2 February 1911, five years after the Sisters of Mercy opened the first Mater Private Hospital at North Quay, Mater Public Hospital opened. The 40-bed hospital was opened without fanfare or special celebrations and it was supported by fundraising and the proceeds generated by Mater Private Hospital. Many doctors volunteered to serve at the public hospital. In its first ten years, Mater attracted many of Brisbane’s distinguished doctors to its honorary staff. The hospital remained in operation until 1981, when the new Mater Adult Hospital was opened.

The following year, Mater was registered as a training school for nurses and the first 14 secular probationers entered the formal training school for nurses in 1914, with the completion of St Mary's Nurses Home, to ensure an adequate supply of nurses with appropriate qualifications. The Sisters of Mercy nurses were trained separately at Mater Private Hospital.

In July 1912 the Mater Public Hospital outpatient department opened in its own specially built brick building. The service treated 1440 people in its first six months. The influx was partly a result of the closure of the government’s South Brisbane ‘depot’ where needy people were able to access both medical care and other necessities.

Two years later in 1914, extensions to the surgical ward at Mater Public Hospital were completed, just in time to care for soldiers returning from World War I. Twenty beds were made available for soldiers, as Mater worked to provide healthcare during a time of financial strain. During the war, appeals to the public were suspended and many of Mater’s staff were on war service; all contributing to, as Mother Patrick Potter stated ‘slender resources.’

Tags: Mater Adult Hospital, Mother Patrick Potter, World War I