Fond farewell to Waranga Memorial Hospital
Published at: 19 Jul 2019
Memories from Waranga Memorial Hospital’s almost 60-year history flowed as community members and staff said goodbye to the facilities at a special afternoon tea.
Several people at the farewell were given the opportunity to do a final walk-through of the hospital.
Waranga Health Community Reference Group member Clem Furphy addressed the packed lounge area and said they did not expect to see so many in attendance.
“Thank you very much for coming,” he said.
“It’s a very exciting but bittersweet day today as we walk away from this building that has meant so much to so many of us.”
Mr Furphy noted the last time a similar celebration was held in Rushworth was when the town’s Bush Nursing Hospital closed and the Waranga Memorial Hospital opened in 1961.
He said Sian Viney’s history book of the hospital said there were about 40 people at that farewell event.
“I think we’ve done better than 40,” he said, which was met with chuckles from the huge crowd.
While they could not attend the event, Mr Furphy said there were apologies from both the first and last babies to be born at the Waranga Memorial Hospital.
He said the first baby born at the hospital was “touch and go” with the mother going into labour at the Bush Nursing Hospital which continued in the ambulance transporting her to the new Waranga Memorial Hospital where she gave birth.
The final baby born at the hospital was Brett Anderson in 1997, who also planted the Lone Pine on the hospital’s grounds.
Mr Furphy took the opportunity to express thanks to those who had worked hard at the hospital over the years, making it the facility it was.
“I’d like to express my thanks to all the staff and those who have worked on the process.
“I’d like to particularly record thanks to the Ladies Auxiliary … we really do appreciate the tremendous job you did over many years to add those little extra things that make the lives of the residents and patients so much better.”
The event was an emotional one for staff and community members as they said goodbye to the facility.
“Of course there’s tremendous memories here for staff,” Mr Furphy said.
“It is probably one of the most stressful and rewarding jobs that you can do.”
Guests also heard from GV Health chief executive Matt Sharp, who reiterated Mr Furphy’s sentiment regarding the importance of health facilities in communities.
“People are born here, they die here, and there’s a whole range of things that happen in between … so it’s important in that context that we are respectful and acknowledge the contribution that people have made to these really important community institutions,” Mr Sharp said
“(Today) is a celebration and an acknowledgement of everybody’s hard work to establish the hospital and nursing home in the beginning, but actually then support and maintain it during its life.”
Mr Sharp said while they were closing one chapter at Waranga Health, the commitment to a high standard of patient care would not change.
“It’s important to respect the past but also look forward to the future with a sense of optimism,” he said.
GV Health’s director of infrastructure Sandy Chamberlain said the Waranga Health project became very close to her heart.
“It became very apparent to me, while engaging with the users, the staff, the Community Reference Group, how much Waranga Health and the hostel mean to the community and how much the staff are passionate about their patients but also keeping the service in Rushworth,” she said.
“We’ve been very lucky with the project to have so much passion. Thank you to everyone for helping to make this project a success.”