'The Mater Hospital - Brief History'

Dr Leslie ‘Halby’ Halberstater (1901-1988) bought a general practice and the Lister Private Hospital in 1935. The Hospital was located the corner of Stagpole and Echlin Streets, West End. He became a government medical officer and visiting medical officer at the local prison in 1937. In World War II he was an honorary Captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps and was attached to the 31st Battalion, Citizen Military Forces.

In 1945 the Sisters of Mercy acquired the hospital. Years later it was renamed the Mater Misericordiae Hospital. Dr Halberstater continued as medical superintendent and lectured to the student Nurses. In 1954 he became president of the New Mater Hospital Appeal Committee raising funds for a new building in Fulham Road. Both hospitals served the local community well for many years.

On 22 December 1960 at St. Patrick’s Convent on the Strand in Townsville a contract was signed with Kern Bros. Ltd. for the construction of a new Mater Hospital on Fulham Road, Pimlico.  Plans for the building had been prepared by Messrs Cusick, Edwards, Bisset and Partners of Brisbane. On 28 January the Mayor of Townsville, Alderman Angus J. Smith, turned the first sod on the site of the new Mater Hospital. On Sunday 21 July, 1961, the foundation stone for the building was blessed and laid by His Excellency the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Maximilian de Furstenberg.

Work on the nurses’ quarters adjacent to the new Mater Hospital on Fulham Road commenced with expectations that the single storey red brick building would be completed by Christmas 1961.  An old building nearby was to be re-decorated to be used as a convent for the Sisters of Mercy who would also staff the hospital. On Sunday 29 March 1962 the new Mater Hospital was blessed and opened for the Sisters of Mercy by Bishop H. E. Ryan.   

A public meeting held at the Townsville Town Hall on 21 October 1964 reported on the Mater Hospital. The report included plans by the Sisters of Mercy to build a further wing in the near future. On Sunday 20 November 1967, Bishop H. E. Ryan DD, blessed and opened the new wing at the Hospital in Pimlico. This construction was the first stage of extensions to the Mater Hospital in Townsville. 

On Saturday 02 July1966  a graduation ceremony was held in St. Mary’s Hall, West End for nurses from the Mater Misericordiae Hospital under the direction of Sister M. Denise RSM, the hospital’s sister tutor. 

Mother M. Ursula, a past pupil of St. Patrick’s College, was appointed Superior of the Mater Hospital in succession to Mother Baptist in 1966.  Later in 1967 a graduation ceremony was conducted in the University Hall Fulham Road, Pimlico. Six student nurses from the Mater Hospital were presented with hospital certificates by Bishop L. A. Faulkner who had replaced Bishop Hugh Ryan. Subsequently the 1968 Mater Hospital Graduation Ceremony was held in the University Hall and Hospital certificates were presented once again by Bishop Faulkner.

Many of the younger nurses and staff from the Mater attended the Sunday Dances at the YCW hall. Among them were: Kay Goulivitch (Dunn), Jenny Lambert (Tracey), Sandra DaForno (Abercrombie), Margaret Mickle, Anne Reeves, Jill Burge, Maureen Connolly


 A member of the YCW, Anne Reeves (Secretary of the Mater Hospital, Townsville)  
 Another member of the YCW Jenny Lambert nursing a paitent at the Mater Hospital, Townsville.  


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Wednesday, 02 September 2015



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