Celebrating remarkable women

08 Mar 2020

Sunday 8th March is International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne was founded by women, continues to be led by women and has more than 4500 women on staff.

The Sisters of Charity established St Vincent’s in 1893. Seven visionary sisters started a small “cottage” hospital of just 30 beds, this has grown beyond all expectations.

There are countless examples of inspiring women who have taken courageous action throughout the years to ensure the existence and success of this amazing hospital.

Here’s just a few examples:

  • Mary Glowrey was the first female physician on staff – she went on to receive special dispensation to practice medicine in India as the first nun-doctor missionary
  • Norma Parker was appointed as Social Worker in 1932 and is regarded as one of Australia’s pioneers in this field
  • Sr Mary Felix Thorburn AM RSC pioneered specialist postgraduate theatre training for nurses in the 1950s
  • Sr Francesca Healy RSC founded St Vincent’s at Home in 1959 and Prague House in 1976 to meet special patient needs
  • Dr Margaret Garson AO played a leading role in establishing cytogenetics as a new field of medical research in Victoria in the 1960s
  • Trained nurse Joan Kirwan RRC became Matron-in-chief of the Royal Australian Air Force Nursing Service in 1975
  • Joan Vickery AO was appointed as Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer in 1982 in a new Health Commission initiative (one of her many contributions to Koori Health)
  • Wilma Beswick AM served as Clinical Dean for 23 years prior to her current role as Chief Medical Officer
  • Trained nurse Patricia O’Rourke has been a member of SVHA’s Executive Leadership team since 2013 and before that was CEO of St Vincent’s for five years
  • Angela Nolan, St Vincent’s CEO has led a series of key initiatives driving improvement in patient access and length of stay

This is a testament to the pioneering spirit and determination of women and the part they have played in remaining committed to offering first-class healthcare to the community.

Celebrate the remarkable women in your life today and every day!