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4-003 (Original)

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addressee author,male,James, Stanley,34
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Teale, 1982
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Miss Turriff came out to Sydney with a batch of trained nurses consigned to Miss Osborn, [sic] lady superintendent of the Infirmary. When the Duke of Edinburgh was struck down by the hand of an assassin, Miss Turriff and Nurse Miller (who came out with her, and is now in the Alfred Hospital) were appointed to nurse the Royal sufferer. [220] I presume they did their work well, and, with the aid of Providence and the doctors, pulled their interesting charge through his crisis. The Duke was not ungrateful. It is said he gave them each £5, a gold watch, and his blessing. He did more - he promised to look after their future welfare. Unlike many royal promises, this was not broken. When the foundation-stone of the Alfred Hospital was laid, the Duke, it is said, mentioned the name of Miss Turriff to the committee, and she was appointed matron. Nurse Miller was by the same influence elected matron of the Brisbane Infirmary; but she was not strong enough for the place, and is now a subordinate of her old comrade. Mr James Service (the treasurer, and chairman of the Alfred Hospital Board) is an excessively loyal man. In his eyes, no doubt, a halo of glory is around the lady who nursed a prince, and had the honour of adjusting royal bandages. Anyhow, it is the open statement of everyone I have met that Miss Turriff is the protégée (the term is not meant offensively) of Mr Service, and as such can do no wrong. . . I believe Miss Turriff to be a lady of remarkably good intentions, but she has unfortunately a naturally obnoxious way of displaying these. Almost from the very first she has been at 'loggerheads' with the different members of the staff, and under her régime there have been about 120 new female servants and nurses within the last five years. The system of management established by the committee, I think, was from the very first a wrong one. The secretary and superintendent was supposed to have the power of appointment of all the male servants, and the matron of the female servants and nurses. The one was the master and the other the mistress of the house. This division of power and want of a head is, I believe, a vicious system of administration. The want of harmony between the matron and other officers of the institution came to a crisis early this year. The medical officers appear to have always objected to Miss Turriff's interference with the ward duties of the nurses, and also with the patients, both male and female. For months at a time things have been in such a state that all communications between the secretary, resident surgeon [Dr Cooke], and the matron have been carried on in writing. . . [and] in this the lady had considerably the best of her correspondents. She would make a capital editor of a New York religious newspaper. In January a man died in the hospital, and Miss Turriff wrote a letter to Dr Cooke, couched in the strongest language, accusing him of having, through negligence, caused the man's death, and bringing against him charges, which, if true, would and should ruin him as a professional man for life. . - Miss Turriff had threatened to resign if Dr Cooke remained, but did not do so. That gentleman, however, took an early opportunity of retiring into private practice, leaving, as I saw entered on the minutes, with a most gratifying testimonial from the committee as to his conduct as resident medical officer for three years at the Alfred Hospital.
I think that the very fact of Miss Turriff being retained in her position after the gross charge she brought against Dr Cooke is a conclusive proof of the influence of the Hon. James Service.. . After Dr Cooke left, the new medical officers resigned, because they would not 'mess' with the matron, which elicited from Mr Service the letter published in The Argus of July 19, that 'the medical officers, the matron, the secretary, and the dispenser are all heads of departments, and directly responsible to the committee of management, and no one else. [221] This admission is sufficient to account for any amount of disorganization and demoralization which may exist at the Alfred Hospital. I am only surprised that there is not more. Mr Service, however, is a good business man, and will take care that any institution he is connected with is ostensibly a first-class concern; and so, up to the present moment, although injury may have been done individually by the matron's tyranny, and although the sight of that lady stamping her feet, and exchanging a few mild remarks with a nurse, telling her 'to take a month's notice', is not a pleasant one, still, owing to lucky accident, the management has not yet run aground, and to the casual visitor everything is satisfactory.
How long will this last, however? The dispute mentioned above, which is reported in The Argus of October 7 - . . ended in the nurse and wardsman of the male surgical ward leaving immediately. For nearly two days this, the most important ward in the place, was left in charge of a patient. After that a temporary nurse was appointed, but it was not until ten days had passed that any satisfactory arrangements for attending to this ward were made - . - The matron, appointing all the nurses, has sole control of their disposition, and in this respect nominally acts as, what she really is, lady superintendent. Now, as a rule, I don't believe in them. There may be a few admirable, energetic, well-balanced ladies who can 'run' a charity or institution; but the majority are too much governed by their feelings and emotions.