Nursing milestone marked

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Preparing to plant a miniature ko whai to mark the 50-year nursing milstone are (from left) Jackie Girvan, Chris Nilson and Heather Inch.

It’s 50 years since Jackie Girvan and four other women started their nursing careers at Ashburton Hospital.

The five shared plenty of life and work experiences while living in the nurses’ home on Elizabeth Street. All went on to lengthy service in the health sector.

Jackie (nee Clifford), Heather Inch and Chris Nilson marked the 50-year milestone at an Ashburton Hospital nurses reunion last Sunday by planting a kowhai tree in the courtyard of the hospital’s cafe.

The other two women on their small intake, Ainslie McGeorge and Marie Turton, now live in Australia.

Jackie said the student nurses spent three months in preliminary training and were then allowed on the wards, to continuing their learning.

Back then patients spent more time recovering in hospital and most stayed on site, rather than being transferred to other hospitals.

“We made their life comfortable and cared for them over time. Now they are in and out and it’s hi-tech.”

She said working at Ashburton Hospital also meant being exposed to a wide variety of medical situations and emergencies, from surgery to obstetrics.

The student nurses shared many laughs and a few tears as they learned skills that would last their lifetimes.

Jackie spent 13 years nursing, 13 years as a health promoter and 15 years working for Presbyterian Support Services.

She said her time spent nursing on the wards had put her in good stead. She still sees former patients on the streets and knows she has been a part of their lives.

Ainslie said the dedicated nurses worked hard but there were some humorous moments.

“It was a time that went too fast and holds many wonderful memories.”

Other nurses who spent time at Ashburton Hospital were part of the wider reunion.

Former nurse Marie Love (nee Turton) said the training nurses received had been excellent and was still valid today.

The nurses’ reunion also included a service at the Ashburton Hospital chapel and a lunch at Hotel Ashburton.