Esme Green – from opening day curiosity to a lifelong legacy

Image: Past and present - Esme Green a former nurse of 15 years from 1947 at Middlemore Hospital with Graduate Nurse Robert Bowker as they try out the new facilities at Middlemore Hospital.  31  OCTOBER  2002, BRETT PHIBBS/NEW ZEALAND HERALD.

Esme Green was a twenty-year-old dressmaker from Otahuhu when she attended the opening of Middlemore Hospital on 3 May 1947 as an interested member of the public.

Attending the opening of the new hospital inspired Esme to embark on a career in nursing. After sharing her plan with her parents, within months Esme was Middlemore Hospital’s first trainee nurse, doing in her own words “… all the work no one else wanted to do”.

Esme says there were four wards open at that time.

“Our duties were from 7am to 4pm, six days a week, and we were paid 33 shillings a fortnight ($3.30), no penal rates.

“Besides nursing the patients, we cleaned the ward, even the sluice room. After we had made the morning tea for the ward sister and the doctors, we had our own refreshment in the ward.”

As well as embarking on a long and fulfilling career in nursing at Middlemore, Esme also met her husband Ken there who was a visitor to one of her patients. The couple were married for more than 50 years, with Esme taking time out of nursing to raise their children.

Although Esme, now 99, retired from nursing many years ago, her legacy lives on at Middlemore. The nurses quarters, where she once lived - now an administration block - is aptly named after her.

Image: Esme Green, 93, a former nurse at Middlemore Hospital who became inspired after attending the opening of the hospital in 1947. 16 December 2020, New Zealand Herald Photograph by Greg Bowker

Photos courtesy of NZME.

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Middlemore Hospital

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