Friendly Society farewells 30-year nursing stalwart

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When Ann Gahan joined the Friendly Society Private Hospital as a nurse in 1987, it had just one ward and 34 beds.

Three decades later, as she bids farewell to her colleagues after announcing her retirement, she can reflect on how much the Bundaberg facility has grown.

“I've seen a surgical ward, a medical ward, an orthopaedic ward, the cath lab – and it just goes on, how much it's expanded from when I first started.

"It was just a small, tiny hospital with all GPs coming in and no specialists. Now we have services that people used to have to travel away for and it's made it so much easier for them,” she said.

The Queensland not-for-profit hospital has 142 beds, and is developing plans to open a second hybrid cath lab to follow the one launched in 2012.

Ann, though sad to be leaving, is looking forward to having more time with family and friends.

"We have three grandchildren here in town so we're hoping to spend a lot more time with them and be able to go to that school concert and be able to do things with them,” she said.

Ann began nursing at the age of 16. In her later career, she was a discharge planner helping patients transition from hospital to home or care.

"I loved having contact with families to get them services and get them on the road to getting into a nursing home, and when you saw families so happy and it all worked out, that was the most rewarding thing,” she said.

The hospital's clinical operation manager Jackie Emery worked with Ann for most of her three decades at the Friendly Society, and had high praise for her former colleague's nursing skills and dedication to her job.

"She has always come across as very strict and planned, but people have valued that because she is very thorough, so as a patient or as a doctor, that's the type of colleague you really value.

"We will very much miss her, and part of that is the personality – it's not just the clinical ability, it's all the personality that comes with that. And like anyone that you've worked with or contributed over that period of time, it's definitely not going to be replaced easily,” Ms Emery said.

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