As the children of Mount Druitt Hospital Childcare Centre sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to Mount Druitt Hospital, approximately 300 current and former staff, community members and volunteers reflected on the last 40 years of the western Sydney hospital that has always been filled with a great sense of community spirit.
The event included a smoking ceremony performed by recent Order of Australia Medal recipient Uncle Wes Marne, speeches from guests including Tony Bleasdale OAM, Mayor of Blacktown City Council, Nepean Therapy Dog cuddles, the cutting of a huge birthday cake, complimentary food trucks, community stalls, and the unveiling of a 26 metre-long mural by Aboriginal artist Danny Eastwood.
The hospital’s journey began in 1975 with the establishment of the Mount Druitt Poly Clinic (now known as Mount Druitt Community Health Centre) to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population in the Blacktown local government area.
In 1982, the hospital as it is known today, was built and then opened by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on 11 October.
Forty years on, the hospital continues to play a pivotal role in the Mount Druitt community, providing excellent healthcare in the heart of one of the fastest growing regions in NSW, providing medical assessment, rehabilitation, surgical, paediatrics and one of Australia’s best palliative care services. It also has a 24-hour emergency department.
“Today we celebrate this incredible hospital and the great services it provides,” said guest and Mayor of Blacktown City Council Tony Bleasdale.
The hospital itself was iconic because the growth of western Sydney was quite incredible at that time and required the support of another hospital in the community.mayor of Blacktown City Council
“The growth of our community continues today with a city that now has 400,000 people – the largest population in western Sydney.”
Local community member and Mount Druitt Hospital Ladies Auxiliary treasurer, Dulcie Harrison, was on the first hospital planning committee and has played a leading role in helping to raise over $1 million dollars for Mount Druitt Hospital the last 40 years.
“I, and all who volunteer are passionate about serving the people of the Mount Druitt area and we will continue to do whatever we can to continue to raise funds for much needed equipment for our Mount Druitt Hospital,” said Dulcie.
Brad Ceely, Acting general manager of Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospital, thanked Dulcie and the auxiliary for “the amazing contribution” their fundraising efforts make.
“In the last couple of months, we’ve been able to spend over $100,000 on equipment,” said Brad.
“The connection we have with our volunteer service is really strong and Mount Druitt is one of very few hospitals still in metropolitan Sydney where the kiosk services are provided through the volunteers.
“I think it’s an excellent demonstration of how we’ve really maintained that community connection here with the western Sydney community.”
“I had family who lived in Mt Druitt when I was younger and I remember driving past the hospital when it was being built and being really excited because I thought they were building a spaceship and I was a big star wars fan.
Today, one of the things I really enjoy when I work at Mount Druitt is that real sense of connection to the community – the real welcomeness of the staff.”
– Brad Ceely
“We have had a wonderful group of volunteers over many years. They’ve given up their time, skills and energy that have made this hospital, committee and the gift shop the success it is.
The people of Mount Druitt have also been so generous with donations of craft and handmade items, showing just how much people do appreciate this hospital and the community in which they live.” – Dulcie Harrison
“I myself have been a patient in this hospital on a number of occasions.
This is where I came after my first heart attack. I wouldn’t be here without the enormous support and medical care from hospital staff which was absolutely sensational, and I of course made a full recovery and I’m still here today.
I want to pay tribute to you all. The doctors, the nurses, and the wonderful job they do under great stress that I’ve witnessed myself.” – Tony Bleasdale
“I was one of the first 200 people to be treated here at the hospital.
As a community member who comes in here quite often and as a patient over many many years, it’s been really comforting and a positive impact for us to be able to go in and see the same familiar faces year after year which testifies to what a very special place this is.” – Julie Jones
An event highlight was the unveiling of a meaningful mural painted on the wall situated between the Emergency Department and the main entrance of Mount Druitt Hospital by Aboriginal artist Danny Eastwood, with help from John Weeks.
The 26 metre-long mural took two weeks to complete and was created as a welcoming token for the community to acknowledge the role of the hospital within the culturally diverse community. The mural includes kangaroos, emus, medical staff, circles which represent the departments within the hospital and hand prints which represent the diverse cultures of western Sydney.
The reason I have painted kangaroos and emus is because they don’t take a backward step – they represent the doctors who won’t take a backward step until they find a cure or find a way to help their patients,” explained Danny.
“We put a lot of heart and soul into this artwork and we hope the people of Mount Druitt appreciate it.”