Blacktown Hospital’s first matron passes away at 95

Blacktown Hospital’s first matron Erella Macaulay (first from the left seated).

In 1965, Erella Macaulay was appointed as Blacktown Hospital’s first matron (now known as director of nursing). 

This was also the year NSW Health Minister Billy Sheahan opened Blacktown Hospital in January and the first patient was admitted on 28 April.

After residing at Blacktown Hospital for many years, Erella left in 1990 to spend more time on her family farm in Wagga Wagga.

A resident for the past two years at Cootamundra Nursing Home, Erella died peacefully in her sleep on 17 May, 2020. She was 95. Erella leaves behind three brothers, a sister and 11 nieces and nephews.

Matron Erella Macaulay (left).

Blacktown Hospital director of nursing and midwifery Danielle Levis said Erella’s passion and legacy at the hospital remained 55 years on.

“Under her leadership, Blacktown Hospital was the first public hospital to train male midwives,” Danielle said.

“The buildings and technology may have changed over the years but the care and dedication from the nurses and midwives remain.”

The Erella Macaulay conference room at Blacktown Hospital pays tribute to the life and legacy of its first matron.

Nephew Jeffrey Macaulay said Erella was hands-on at the farm and always ready to pitch in and do any tasks.

“She would help her brothers and nephews shear sheep and move machinery about the farm during harvest time,” Jeffrey said.

“Erella divided her time between her home at North Rocks and the Wagga Wagga farm. She was always busy and very socially active visiting friends, family and attending official functions.

“Erella didn’t have children and her husband David Hamilton died in 2017 – he was a retired British naval commander.”

Blacktown Hospital’s first matron was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2008 for recognition for services to nursing as an educator and administrator, particularly in relation to the transition of nurse education from hospitals to the tertiary sector in NSW.

“Once a nurse always a nurse – she was a loving and caring person who always put her nursing skills to good measure patching up one or two shearers in the shearing shed,” Jeffrey said.

“I spent almost a year being nursed by and living with Erella after recovering from severe back surgery which required physio – boy did she fuss over me!”