End of an era for Adult Outpatient Clinics

15/May/2019     Health

Mater’s Adult Outpatient Clinics recently farewelled much-loved and highly-respected Enrolled Nurse Lorraine Walker after 54 years at Mater. 

Lorraine’s Mater story began in 1964 when she “just walked in off the street and asked for a job as a nurse’s aide. I’d always wanted to be a nurse.”

Becoming an enrolled nurse in 1969, Lorraine took a year off at the end of 1971 to start a family, but returned 12 months later, and has worked full-time ever since.

Lorraine cherishes her early years at Mater, working alongside and being mentored by the Sisters of Mercy.

“The nuns were fabulous to work with. You had to toe the line, but if you did that, then you got on fabulously with them,” Lorraine said.

Lorraine has particularly fond memories of working with Sr Mary Bede.

“Sr Mary Bede was wonderful. If you didn’t understand anything, she would take the time to explain it until you understood. She even had a blackboard which she used to draw diagrams,” she recalled. 

“She used to have a morning meeting and she’d tell all the nurses who they’d be looking after for the day and what was wrong with the patients. Sr Bead made sure you knew every patient’s name, whether they were your patient or not, because you looked after everyone in the ward.”

Lorraine reminisces about some of the changes she has seen at Mater over the years.

“For starters, our uniforms were all white and we wore soft hats, like a cap. Our uniforms were laundered for us, so we had a change of uniform every day,” she said.

“I also remember what it was like before we had computers. Everything was a lot harder and took a lot longer because you had to write everything. We had big books with all of the patients’ names, their date of birth, and all the things you had to tick off.

“When we were getting ready for the arrival of computers, we were all sent to computer training. They had it set up with rows of computers and a teacher and we had to follow what he was doing. We were all tapping away and it felt like secretarial school!”

Lorraine has spent most of her career at Mater as an enrolled nurse in the Adult Outpatients Clinics, assisting primarily in the Orthopaedic and Respiratory Clinics.

Ask Lorraine what her role at Outpatients involved and she is modest in her reply. 

“Oh, I just helped the registered nurses and did the jobs they don’t do—little things like doing the dressings”

To Lorraine’s colleagues, however, she has always been indispensable—the “calm in the eye of the storm” that is the hustle and bustle of Outpatients, directing the traffic and keeping everything running smoothly, and the go-to person if you needed to know something or locate a piece of equipment.

Her colleagues describe Lorraine as “generous and caring”, “one of the most dedicated nurses of all time” and “a wonderful ambassador for Mater’s Mission and Values”.

Lorraine is also known for her mischievous sense of humour. Her smile and easy banter are contagious and have helped make Outpatients one of the best areas to work at Mater.

Now, upon her retirement, her colleagues are navigating Outpatients without Lorraine in the eye of the storm.

Lorraine, too, is contemplating life outside Mater.

“I’ve loved working at Mater. I’ve enjoyed myself immensely and the Outpatients team is like my second family.”

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