A lot has changed in the nearly 50 years that orderly Ivy Tauhinu has been employed at Middlemore Hospital.
The buildings, the uniforms, and even the way to appropriately address staff have all shifted dramatically since a young Ivy started with the hospital on 10 October 1969.
Back then, Ivy (now 70) was part of the household staff – originally as a waitress. She was required to wear a brown, starchy uniform and hat that she says looked like army attire.
Eventually she became Head Waitress, and one of her duties was to serve the matrons. Protocols were “old school”, Ivy laughs.
The waitress was not allowed to approach the matron until the matron had inspected her cutlery to make sure it was up to scratch.
“Then you come over and serve her. You serve her on the proper side, the right hand side. Then you wait for her. You cannot go up to her when she still has soup. And she has to have put [her spoon] down for about a minute and then you go and do the main course.”
The matron was also fastidious about the correct uniform being worn, Ivy explains. “If a nurse came into the dining room without a hat, she would tell them off.”
For all the strictness, Ivy has fond memories of the medical staff.
“We respected them and we didn’t call them by first names. You weren’t allowed first names,” Ivy says, noting she still struggles to call the doctors and nurses by their first names, although she appreciates today’s more open approach to the hospital structure.
“Communication is good now; you can talk to your manager and there is very much an open door policy which is great. I can see we’ve moved forward a lot. There’s a lot of respect for orderlies, cleaners, everyone.”
Ivy’s seen numerous other changes, including a stronger security presence within the hospital, and the continuous improvements being made in mental health care, including the new Tiaho Mai complex, due to be opened this month.
“It’s also good to see the diversity, and so many different cultures represented across the hospital today, we are like a rainbow of different colours.”
She is most proud of the fact that patients are the centre of everything the hospital does.
“I tell the patients you’re my wages, you’re the doctor’s wages so you come first.”
General Manager of Middlemore Central and former nurse Dot McKeen, herself a veteran of 44 years at the hospital, says it is great to have such long serving members of staff.
“Fifty years is a remarkable length of time with one employer and it is wonderful to have this level of commitment to our population,” Ms McKeen says.
These days, Ivy’s main duty as an orderly involves transferring patients to the wards.
She says it keeps her young and fit.
“I love Middlemore. I love this job and I love the people - they keep me sane.”
A snapshot of the numbers
- A total of 7054 people are employed by Counties Manukau Health
- The longest serving current staff member has worked at Counties Manukau Health for 56 years
- More than 30 staff members have served at Counties Manukau Heath for a period of longer than 40 years
- Counties Manukau Health employs 116 orderlies