90 Years Strong in 2021
*Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this post contains images of deceased persons*
Jessie McPherson Private Hospital is celebrating a milestone in 2021. In December this year we will be marking our 90th anniversary.
In the beginning
Jessie McPherson Private Hospital was created as the private wing of the Queen Victoria Hospital in the city of Melbourne, opening its doors for the first time in December 1931.
The Queen Victoria Hospital, established in 1896, was celebrated as the first women’s hospital in Victoria, it was also one of only three in the world operated for women, by women. The Queen Victoria provided training and employment for a small but increasing number of women doctors. At the time these doctors were mostly unwelcome in the Victorian medical establishment, and the new hospital was a radical recognition that they were a necessity to the women of Victoria.
In September 1930 The Examiner (Launceston) reported on the building of a new block at the Queen Victoria which would house the Jessie McPherson Hospital. The building of this block was made possible due to Sir William McPherson gifting 25,000 pounds. A further 10,000 pounds from the state government funded facilities for the public hospital including a new kitchen and nurse’s dining room. The new Jessie McPherson block was henceforth known as the private wing of the Queen Victoria and opened its doors for the first time on 1 December 1931.
Sir William McPherson
Australian philanthropist and the 31st Premier of Victoria Sir William McPherson, KBE (1865-1932), made the 25,000 pound donation in memory of his mother, the late Mrs Jessie McPherson.
Sir William had been prominent in the politics of the State as Premier and Treasurer. The maintenance of the public hospitals had been a great concern to him and he was convinced that the community (now known as private) hospital scheme was the most hopeful possibility for future stability. He wished the memorial to his mother to demonstrate a model community hospital.
On 1 December 1931 The Age featured an article on the Jessie McPherson Opening Ceremony, opening with the following statement:
“A monument to Australian organisation and Australian industry is the Jessie McPherson Community Hospital, the first community hospital to be established in Australia in connection with a general hospital. The community hospital is a branch of that unique establishment the Queen Victoria Hospital which is run by women for women and children, and the committee of the hospital points with pride to the fact that the new hospital is a truly Australian institution.”
Then and Now
Just Stoelwinder, was the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Health Care Network (now known as Monash Health) and before that foundation CEO of Monash Medical Centre and CEO of the Queen Victoria Medical Centre, Melbourne. Just led the development of Monash Medical Centre in 1986, the re-location project of the Queen Victoria Medical Centre and with it Jessie McPherson Private hospital to Clayton, its merger with Prince Henry’s Hospital and Moorabbin Hospital to form the Monash Medical Centre.
In a recent interview Just shared memories from this crucial time in the history of Victoria’s Health Service provision.
“Jessie McPherson is a unique organisation, once the private wing of the Queen Victoria Medical Centre, now it is the only private hospital in Victoria owned by a public health service. Setting up Jessie McPherson as a charitable private hospital at the new Clayton site in 1986 made a major contribution to the establishment of the new Monash Medical Centre by ensuring the new site could provide as many beds as possible to the growing population of the South Eastern suburbs.”
Jessie McPherson operates as a charitable organisation, for the benefit of Monash Health. Fees for provision of care above the cost of service are reinvested into the public health service.
Andrew Stripp, Chief Executive of Monash Health said, “The Jessie McPherson Private Hospital team are to be congratulated on this considerable milestone and their contribution to the pursuit of excellence as part of the Monash Health family. After 90 years, the legacy of Sir William McPherson is still evident at Jessie McPherson, which is to provide the very best care, experience and outcomes to the community they serve.”
Current CEO Thinesh Chandraratne commented “We are very proud of our rich history, interspersed with Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Hospital and later with Prince Henry’s with the relocation to Clayton, which would become the Monash Medical Centre in Clayton, where we reside today.
As we step in to our 90th year of operations, we are looking forward to spending the coming months collecting and sharing stories of our history and welcome members of our community to share their memories with us.”
Please email JMPHExecOffice@monashhealth.org if you have anecdotes, stories, photos or memories you would like to share.
Do you remember when Jessie McPherson re-located to Clayton in 1987?
Are you one of the babies born in our first year in Clayton in 1987?
do you know one of the babies born at the city site on Lonsdale Street prior to the re-location?
Do you have any memories or experiences of Jessie McPherson over the years?
An official anniversary celebration is being planned for December 2021.
“THREE STOREYS: A Community Hospital Structural Addition”. The Examiner (Tasmania). LXXXVIII (213). Tasmania, Australia. 5 September 1930. p. 4 (DAILY). Retrieved 19 March 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
“A PAGE FOR WOMEN: Jessie Mcpherson Community Hospital: Opening Ceremony To-day”. The Age (23, 913). Victoria, Australia. 1 December 1931. p. 4.
Gwendolyn Swinburne, Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital. The First Fifty Years, p. 43.