Topic: Jan Caudwell

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Tauranga Hospital 1962 Physiotherapy

Kind friends arranged a job for me in mid-1962 as the Physiotherapy Assistant so that I could be near my terminally ill mother.

 Assisting the physiotherapists, Mr Asa Neame and Miss Beverley Jones, I typed the weekly Orthopaedic Clinic notes dictated by Dr Coates-Milson. This was somewhat fraught, trying to spell the medical words, some of which had dual meanings! Asa and Bev enhanced my education and embarrassment in turn.

Jeannie Barker was in the Reception Office next door and no one passed that way without her scrutiny and approval. She was a vast source of information. Sister Flan (Flannery) ran the Outpatients Department in the room opposite and was a wonderful, motherly source of support and medical information. (A memorial to her is in the Tauranga Hospital Chapel).

At the Christmas concert, Drs Cath and Graeme Darby, coached some medical students and me in a Can Can routine. Andrew, one of the student doctors was on duty in ED and was loathe to wear stage make-up. He was finally persuaded, only to be called away to an emergency where the elderly gentleman was more bewildered by the bright red lipstick and the make-up, than his medical complaint.

With support from the Physiotherapy Department I trained as a physiotherapist and returned to work here in the holidays. Ward 1 Orthopaedics rounds involved us progressing down the long corridor with Dr Coates-Milson and Sister in front, and everyone else behind two-by-two in seniority order. I was last.

When qualified, I was sent to Tauranga Hospital for my compulsory bursar years. The Mount Maunganui Surf Club members were my saviours when on-call at weekends.

As we only had landline phones and the beach was the only place to be, I would notify the lifeguard where I was on the beach (swim caps were distinctive then) and if a call came for me, they would send the patrol down to tell me. My car was in their parking lot so uniform-over-togs, brush off sandy feet, and I was at the hospital in a matter of minutes. I am not sure if Stancie Williams, then Charge Physiotherapist, approved.

I was able to repay their assistance by finding a special traction collar for a lifeguard injured in a nasty car accident as a team returned from competitions.

For some younger people injured in accidents the goal was to dance with their nurses at the annual Hospital Ball. The courage, determination and humour in adverse circumstances, shown by so many patients were always

an inspiration. For example, a lady with MS, who lived for years in Ward 17; the elderly quadriplegic man who lost most of his family on the Kaimai Road; the young Japanese seaman who fell into a hold on his ship fracturing his pelvis. Communication was limited, and interpreters were scarce, but we made him feel at home. Eventually he left hospital

to return to his ship. The shipping company presented Tauranga Hospital with a beautifully decorated Japanese doll (quite special at the time) as a mark of gratitude.

Uniform was regulation white dress, with bachelor buttons down the front and blue epaulets, a blue woollen cape when going outside and between the various buildings. Shoes were brown lace-up.

In 1965-66 the first Intensive Care Unit (ICU) was opened and as I was the most recent graduate I was assigned to the ICU. One of the anaesthetists used an Intermittent Positive Pressure Respirator (IPPR), manufactured by the Bird Corporation. This required physiotherapists to assist with Ambu bagging when it was disconnected from the patient.

However, the ICU was sometimes empty and the anaesthetist offered me the IPPR to use for respiratory patients in the Ward. This sparked an interest and I visited the Bird Corporation to learn how to use and assemble the machine. Many Americans, including Bob Hope, used IPPR daily to keep ‘healthy’.

I enjoyed my work, and frequently had to crank my small Vauxhall car watched by an amused patient audience in the building above, and once several bachelor buttons popped on my uniform during an active ‘knee exercise’ class.

 Christmas circa 1965 

Christmas circa 1965: From left, the Physio Aid, the Orderly, Peter Ewart, Jill Ewart, Jan Tully, Jan Miller and in front Glenda Leaning. Note the equipment stashed above the Guthrie Smith frame over the treatment plinth.


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Jan Caudwell


Year:1965
First Names:Jan
Last Name:Caudwell