Humans of the Wheatbelt

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a disability project that celebrates inclusion within the community.

There is always someone in each story that has a disability whether it is the human, interviewer, photographer or writer.

Mary Cameron – Part 2 of 3

On graduation I returned to WA and my first appointment was as a Staff Nurse at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Following completing the Staff Nurse Year (now known as a Graduate Year) I went to work at the Warren District Hospital, Manjimup. I didn't know any of my extended family and by working there it presented an opportunity to get to know them.

The “Matron” told me that if I wanted to stay working in country hospitals I would have to go and do my Midwifery. So on completing 12 months I resigned and travelled to Tasmania where I completed my midwifery training at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Launceston. I had a whale of a time. I was able to combine being a student with tourist activities in my off duty, meeting many wonderful people along the way.

I returned to WA and worked at King Edward Memorial for a few years, following which I enrolled and completed my Child Health Certificate at Ngala. My next appointment was in the Kimberley's based in Derby, working for Community Health as a Child Health Nurse.

During a big flood Derby was cut off for six weeks. Fitzroy Crossing was equally effected and the nurses rang up and said it was time to evacuate because the “snakes are now coming up the toilets”!

In 1980 I was appointed “Assistant Matron” at Woodside Maternity Hospital and this was the beginning of my combined roles as both an manager and a midwife. It suited me perfectly. Essentially I am a small town girl – and this was a small hospital in the community orientated districts of Fremantle and East Fremantle, focusing on childbirth and women's health.

I progressed on to become “Matron” in 1985 and the position was reclassified in the 1990's with the title of Nurse Administrator. This recognized the scope of the position as the onsite Administrator and Senior Midwife for all Departments.

In the early 2000s plans were being made to build the Fiona Stanley Hospital, inclusive of a maternity ward. In the interim, until it was built, Woodside Maternity Hospital was transferred into a ward at Kaleeya Hospital in Bicton.
On the closure of Woodside Maternity Hospital in 2006 I retired.
Pieter and I met in Manjimup in 1972 where he was working as the relief Medical Technologist (now Medical Scientist). He maintained that he had worked in every country hospital laboratory in Western Australia except Kalgoorlie.

Pieter was a good all rounder - academically, at sport (tennis and swimming), and as a Mr Fixit.
Pieter and I never had children and in a way it enabled me to have the career I had.

Pieter had rheumatic fever as a teenager and this damaged his heart. As he grew older his health suffered greatly, although to look at him and what he determinedly achieved, was nothing short of miraculous. This was probably due to the discipline in how he managed his life style and his weight. He always said he was the same weight at 70 as he was at 17 : 70kgm
In his late 20's Pieter was one of the very first to have open heart surgery. The surgeon said “I think you will survive longer than me” and he did.

At the end of his life I cared for him at home. This was his wish, and it was very important to us both. It enabled him to participate in household life and have his friends visit at any time.

We would wheel him out on the verandah and he would sit and chat. Pieter died in 2012

Gingin District Community Resource Centre Kalgoorlie, Western Australia East Fremantle Donnybrook-Bridgetown-Manjimup Mail

Human – Mary Cameron
Interviewer & photographer - Anna Cornish
Writer – Guy Salvidge

Part 1:

Humans of the Wheatbelt is supported by the State Government through the Wheatbelt Development Commission and managed by Wheatbelt Health Network.

#wheatbelt #inclusion #community

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After hours medical assistance: In an emergency call 000 or present to your nearest Regional Hospital emergency department. If you have a non- emergency and would like to consult with a GP then call Telstra Health on 1800 225 523. The service is free to access for Australian residents who reside in the wheatbelt or who are temporarily residing in the Wheatbelt. This service can be accessed before 8am and after 6pm Monday-Friday, before 8am and after 12pm Saturday and all day Sunday and any Public Holidays. Thank you to Western Australia Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) for funding this service.

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