Mount Druitt Hospital celebrates 35th anniversary

BIRTHDAY: Volunteers Emily Jancek, Gayle Barbagallo, Karen Lancaster and Janice Graham, volunteer with Mount Druitt Hospital general manager Sue Anne Redmond. Picture: Western Sydney Health
BIRTHDAY: Volunteers Emily Jancek, Gayle Barbagallo, Karen Lancaster and Janice Graham, volunteer with Mount Druitt Hospital general manager Sue Anne Redmond. Picture: Western Sydney Health

Mount Druitt came to a standstill on this day 35 years ago, as thousands of people gathered to catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II.

October 11, 1982 remains a special day for those who witnessed the historic royal visit – mainly because of what she was there to do.

Her Majesty’s task was to officially open Mount Druitt Hospital after nearly a decade of community campaigning. 

“It was the jewel in our crown,” Dulcie Harrison said.

A key player in the push to establish the hospital, Ms Dulcie was among several old and new faces who celebrated its 35th anniversary on Thursday.

“It was so badly needed,” the Mount Druitt Ladies Auxiliary treasurer said.

“The health situation here was chaotic. Mount Druitt was still a village in some ways; the roads weren’t done, schools weren’t furnished and some parts had no drainage.”

Ms Dulcie said groups started fundraising for the hospital in the early 1970s, and the streets of Mount Druitt were packed on the day it opened.

“It was a beautiful hospital. We were getting awards after awards. It was a complete hospital,” she said.

“It’s been a passion for us to see the hospital grow.”

Mount Druitt Hospital general manager Sue-Anne Redmond said the its strong community ties made it feel like a country hospital.

“Staff and community have such a sense of ownership of this hospital,” Ms Redmond said.

“I personally am very ambitious about Mount Druitt. This is a growing area and the hospital needs to grow with it.

“I wish Mount Druitt a happy birthday and a bright future.”

Karen Lancaster has been a volunteer at the hospital since its inception.

“I started to help set up the kiosk,” she said. 

“I had the honour of embroidering the hand towels for the Queen. I suppose I was just the lucky one.”

Ms Lancaster said it was a shame to watch some services leave the hospital, but hoped of good things to come.

“It means a lot to me,” she said.

The hospital’s newest volunteer, Audrey Sirman, said she wanted to repay staff for their treatment of her late husband.

“I like meeting the people, it takes your mind off other things,” she said.

“They were very good [to my husband] and I felt like doing some back for them.”