What an exceptional day ...

Friday, 30 May 2008

It was a day that signified so much. The opening ceremony, with its poignant symbolism representing the transition from the old to the new, the hundreds of Mater staff and friends who gathered to watch as the plaque was unveiled, the small group of tireless workers who had devoted hours and hours of their time to make sure that every last detail of this special event was in place. It was day full of heart and one charged with emotion.

We asked some of the day’s participants for their perspective on the opening of the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals.

Mater Redevelopment Project Sr Michaeleen M. Ahern RSM

I had feelings of joy, pride and gratitude in witnessing the successful culmination of years of dedicated team work by the Project Team, the consultants and Mater Mothers' Hospital staff. Through the architecture and art of the new hospital’s construction, it presents a balance of wellness and highly specialised health care. I felt quiet satisfaction that we had achieved our aim of a modern environment where the Mission of Mercy would continue. I was touched by the dignity and appropriateness of the opening ceremony and the special personal tributes paid by each of the day’s speakers. Even the rain that fell from the sky signified new life.

Director Obstetrics and Gynaecology Dr Michael Beckmann

At first I wasn’t sure why I was asked to carry a 25 metre long piece of material from the door of the old hospital to the door of the new, but it seemed to mean something when the moment came. Alongside me, Sisters of Mercy, volunteers, midwives, doctors and allied health professionals—some relatively new to Mater (like me) and those who had been here for almost as long as I’ve been alive—walked this very short journey together. I was informed that the cloth we carried symbolised a river, water and therefore life. For me it was the short journey I walked that was by the far more powerful symbol. It was a short walk but it seemed such a very long journey when thinking about Catherine McAuley and Vincent Whitty of the 19th century. And it seemed a long journey when thinking about those men and women in the crowd in their 30s and 40s who, more often than not, had been born in the original Mater Mothers’ Hospitals. It even seemed a long personal journey when pondering my experience as a medical student and junior Registrar here in the old hospital. But like many journeys, looking back, it was all just a brief moment on the road to something much more exciting.

Premier Anna Bligh

Mater Mothers’ is not just dear to me because it is the biggest birthing hospital in the southern hemisphere that just happens to be in my electorate—it is also the caring centre where I have spent time with my own children. Mater Mothers’ also honours the enormous contribution of the Sisters of Mercy to this city and state. Adding to their first-rate efforts, the community, through sustained fundraising, has joined with governments to ensure it remains one of the State’s premier health institutions. We all recognise its on-going successes and are honoured to play a part in continuing its proud tradition.

Governor of Queensland Quentin Bryce

I look back with such tender affection on my years of knowing and being known by this much-loved institution of women’s wellbeing. I am a Mater Mother—I had my babies here in the late 60s and early 70s; I’ve since had the joy of grandchildren born and cared for within the same loving circle. I delight to tell the story of the birth of my twin granddaughters, Lucinda and Claudia, very early in the morning of the exhilarating and memorable day when I was sworn in as the 24th Governor of Queensland. So many special and enriching times in our family’s life;Mater has been the strong heartbeat through it all: the gentle hand, the watchful eye, the graceful gesture of care. We have met so much love, compassion and dignity in this place that I’m quite overwhelmed trying to measure and calculate: I can only bask in its radiance as I watch its glow spread across generations.

Midwifery Unit Manager Beth Burt

“Reaffirmed” is how I felt about the opening of the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals. The excitement was tangible in every part of the building on the day. Everyone was excited about being a part of history. For me the opening felt like a coming together of minds and heart as I felt the grand old lady “push” us towards a new beginning. I felt no sadness in leaving the old Mater Mothers’ building. Bricks and mortar are not the Mater family, the community who moved the hospital in 12 hours are.

West End mother of two and consumer representative with consumer lobby group Maternity Coalition Inc. Melissa Fox

Mater Mothers’ Hospitals meaningfully engage maternity consumers in a number of ways including the development of new services and policy review. I was touched that in recognition of mine, and other consumer representatives’ contributions to this process, my four-month-old daughter Mia and I were invited to be part of the opening ceremony of the new facility. The care women receive when pregnant, birthing and looking after their new baby (or babies!) sets the stage for their journey into motherhood. As a mum, I felt the opening ceremony recognised the importance of birth and mothering for women and families. I was pleased when I heard our state and national leaders speak, as I believe they too understood how important maternity care is to communities. We must always remember—birth matters.

Event Co-ordinator Miranda Hunt

When I woke up at 5.30 am the morning of 30 May, I couldn’t believe how hard the rain was falling. We had planned the outdoor event down to the last detail with a wet weather plan in place, but rain always adds an extra layer of complexity. Upon my arrival at the marquee, the rain had made its presence felt. But our team quickly rallied together with a willingness to help wherever it was needed. As the speakers and guests started to arrive, another downpour of rain hit and soon after, the AV system went down. As the running sheet kept adjusting due to these unavoidable delays, I looked around the marquee and to my surprise the guests didn’t appear to be too concerned. In fact, there was a genuine feeling of excitement and expectancy. Like giving birth to a new baby, the room was waiting for the delivery of a much anticipated and important event. When the event began, it flowed well and the speakers were all truly inspiring. I know that I will always remember the opening ceremony and I hope it holds a special memory for those who attended and shared the experience.

Director Mater Redevelopment Project Helen Kelly

Friday 30 May was one of the most rewarding days of my life. It was like reaching the pinnacle after four years of upward climb. Involvement with the planning and construction of the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals was a unique opportunity. The opening ceremony filled me with a sense of privilege and honour, in having been associated with this wonderful building. This was a celebration of the pride I felt in each member of the Redevelopment Team and our combined contribution in this project, along with the ongoing history of Mater.

Congregational Leader Sister Sandra Lupi RSM

The rain poured down as guests and dignitaries huddled together under the dripping marquees but the warmth and excitement of the event was tangible. The Ritual of Blessing for the official opening of the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals was complemented by the All Hallows’ School Choir. In their speeches, Her Excellency the Governor Ms Quentin Bryce, the Prime Minister The Hon. Kevin Rudd and the Premier The Hon. Anna Bligh spoke of their long association and high esteem for the Sisters of Mercy and Mater Hospitals. This magnificent new building is a tribute to the project development team, the skilled architects, planners, designers, builders and artists. The Brisbane Sisters of Mercy, Mater Health Services Board of Directors and Mater staff can be justly proud of this facility, which offers a new era in maternity health care.

Chairman of the Board Professor John McAuliffe

As I sat listening to the All Hallows choir waiting for the day’s formalities to begin, my thoughts stretched back over the four years it took to construct the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals. During this time the Sisters of Mercy, the State Government, the community, and our Mater team worked together towards a common goal. Sitting there among the Mater community I felt so proud of what has been achieved. Our dignitaries—the Archbishop, Governor, Prime Minister, Premier, Health Minister and our Congregational Leader all spoke with high praise of their experiences at Mater and gave personal glimpses of what makes us so special. The new Mater Mothers’ Hospital continues to confirm our commitment to the provision of exceptional and compassionate care for all, without discrimination.

Function Co-ordinator Mater Food Services Glen McKenzie

The official opening event for the new Mater Mothers’ Hospital was an important and busy day for Food Services. Catering for the new hospital’s opening was a much more demanding event than our day-to-day functions and it required an exceptional team. For me, being involved in bringing together this exciting event was a privilege. More than 900 insulated lunch boxes were prepared for the day, a task that took our team many hours to achieve. We set up our delivery station outside the Aubigny Forecourt while the formalities were taking place and as people filed out following the opening ceremony we handed out the lunchboxes and refreshments. It was extremely busy but we enjoyed handing guests their commemorative lunch box, which everyone was very pleased to receive.

Mater CEO John O’Donnell

We finally made it! From the presentation of a vision for a new facility to the Premier and Health Minister years ago, through hundreds of meetings with a great team of architects, artists, planners, managers and builders to the opening of a genuinely inspiring building. I was well aware that as well as providing a place for people to care for each other in the safe delivery of children into the world, the opening ceremony marked a major milestone for Mater. The new Mater Mothers’ Hospital and Mater Mothers’ Private Hospital together confirmed Mater's future as Australia's busiest maternity service. This status is likely to be so for decades. Its huge number of patients provides a venue for the Mater's commitment to teaching and research to be expressed and to flourish for the betterment of all. It was obvious that the building achieved the hope of a being a peaceful, relaxing and supportive environment for the joy of normal birth, while providing for more complex care and for the unexpected emergency as needed. Many guests commented on the personal character of each speech at the opening ceremony—the Archbishop, the Premier, the Prime Minister and the Governor all included significant personal experiences of the Mater Mothers’ Hospitals in their addresses and spoke with obvious pride and affection for a Queensland icon. Sister Jill Stringer, with her usual humility and grace, inspired the audience with reminiscences of her time as Matron of the original Mater Mothers’. This set the scene for my strongest memory of the day—a sense of the Sister's selfless service to the community, a sense of the staff pride in Mater’s care and an appreciation of a positive, vibrant, albeit very different, future.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

It is with great pleasure that I provide this message of support to the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals in Brisbane and congratulate everyone involved with the redevelopment of the hospitals. I was proud to join Governor Quentin Bryce and Premier Anna Bligh at the opening of the redeveloped Mater Mothers’ Hospitals in May 2008. Having personal links back to the original Mater Hospital where I dealt with dedicated and highly professional staff, I am extremely happy to be involved in the next chapter of this iconic hospital. From my observations, the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals will be leading the way in a new era of maternity health care. To all involved with the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, I wish you every success for the future.

Rachel Speijers, Endorsed Enrolled Nurse, Special Care Nursery, Mater Mothers' Hospitals

The opening of the new Mater Mothers’ Hospitals was a very exciting day and I was honoured to be a part of the grand opening, especially since I was a relatively new employee to the Mater Mothers’ Hospitals. I was surrounded by people that had worked and volunteered at the Mater Mothers’ for many years and who had countless stories and memories of the original Mater Mothers’ Hospitals. For me, the opening of the new hospitals felt like a new beginning, of new experiences, new stories and new memories, which I was going to be a part of creating. I was excited that myself and my colleagues were going to be a part of making better hospitals for the mothers and newborn babies of Queensland. The opening of the Mater Mothers’ Hospitals is a day I will always remember and feel honoured that I was a part of.

Filed under: Mothers', Private
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