Plaque to remember Kiama Hospital’s role

Mayor Mark Honey, with the Heydays team – Lorraine Ettingshausen, Margaret Raison, Pat Smylie, Margaret Childs, Marj Fretwell and Gerry McInerny (Dot Hall absent)

The labour of love of a team of people who worked at Kiama Hospital has ended, with a plaque outlining the Hospital’s history being unveiled at Blue Haven Bonaira.

Spurred on by the affection shown at the Open Day to farewell Kiama Hospital, a group of people involved with the Hospital during its heyday put together a book to preserve the story for future generations.

Co-operation and assistance from former Kiama District Hospital staff, the general community and associated services resulted in the compilation of a wealth of information regarding the hospital including nursing, medical, domestic and ancillary staff, Hospital directors, the Kiama Ambulance, Voluntary Home Nursing Service, Kiama Hospital Auxiliary, service clubs and the community effort to avert its closure in 1992.

“We presented it as our recollections, not a great historical record, so that in 20 years time people will know how important it was,” says Lorraine Ettingshausen, who worked as a registered nurse at the Hospital from 1965-83.

The profit from the sale of the books has been put to good use, funding not just the plaque but also the restoration of grave of Kiama Hospital’s founding Matron, Isabella Barron.

Much needed repairs to the grave at Kiama Cemetery, as well as a plaque recognising her importance to the community were undertaken, at a cost of $4500.

Matron Barron took charge of the newly opened Kiama Cottage Hospital, on Barney Street, in 1887 and ran it until ill health required her to resign in 1910.

On her retirement, the Committee of the Cottage Hospital said, “The Committee… desire to place on record their hearty appreciation of her untiring and unselfish devotion to duty and the best interests of the hospital since its erection 23 years ago.

“During the long period of her management it has been characterised by an economy and carefulness borne of a wholehearted interest in it and a high ideal of her duty to the Committee and the public, while the skill, tender sympathy, care and patience with which she nursed the sick showed that her heart was in the work and helped in no small way to gain for the hospital a record enjoyed by few hospitals in the State.”

“Kiama owes Isabella Barron a great debt of gratitude,” says Lorraine.

“May she be remembered for many years to come.”

The grave is also the resting place of her brother John, who arrived in Kiama with her to be the Hospital’s superintendent. He died after two years.

While Matron Barron had no children, she brought up the child of her niece when she died.

Decendents from this Pike side of the family, Jennie Hughes and Leone Roberts, were delighted by the care taken to preserve her memory.

The recently rediscovered painting of Barroul House, bought by the Kiama Graduate Nurses Association donated it to the Hospital in 1987, from money raised at the 100th Anniversary reunion, has also been hung in the restored building.

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