If you’ve had a baby at Werribee Mercy Hospital, chances are you’ve met Louise Thompson. The maternity department nurse unit manager was there when it opened, Charlene Macaulay hears.
What is your connection to Wyndham?
I was born in Wandene Hospital, which was where McDonald’s is now on Synnot Street. My parents had a market garden, and I remember packing apricots every summer. We lived in Werribee South, so we had to catch the bus to school – I went to Werribee primary and Werribee secondary.
How did you meet your husband, Ron?
I was living at the Royal Melbourne Hospital – at the nurses’ home there – and we [several nurses] were sitting in the lounge room on a Saturday night and looking at each other going ‘what are we doing sitting here on a Saturday night?’ So somebody said ‘let’s go across the road to the old Melbourne Inn and have a drink’. There were some guys there … and among them was my future husband. I got married 10 days after my 21st birthday, which is what people did back then. I’ve got two daughters and two grandsons.
Tell me about your career.
I did my general training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and did my midwifery training at the Royal Women’s.
I lived in the city during my training and, following that, we bought a house in Werribee. I went to Altona District Hospital for 12 months, then had my own family, and then started working at Werribee District Hospital, moving to Werribee Mercy when the hospital opened on January 4, 1994. My mum, Agnes Thomas, also worked here – she was a mothercraft nurse.
What’s it been like at Werribee Mercy?
It is amazing. There’s been so much change … in maternity, we knew that women weren’t able to have their baby here because we didn’t have enough resources, so we’ve put those resources in place, and now we can offer more women having their baby locally, which is fantastic.
How long have you held the role of maternity department nurse unit manager? What is a typical shift like?
Since about 2007. It wasn’t something I really set out to do. I liked looking after the patients and I liked shift work, but I was asked to step into the manager’s role while she was seconded to something else, and here I am. A typical shift includes taking handover, assessing staffing, making sure we’ve got enough staff to care for the patients safely, planning for today and tomorrow, answering lots of emails and taking lots of phone calls, supporting staff, making sure we’ve got enough equipment, that the environment’s safe … all of that.
Are there any particular births that stand out?
There’s been lots … I [was] present when my cousins had babies here, and that was very special.