This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the establishment of the Angliss Hospital in Upper Ferntree Gully.
History of the Angliss
In 1937 a committee started planning a well-equipped Bush Nursing Hospital to service the Ferntree Gully/Boronia/Upwey/Belgrave area. Although Ferntree Gully Shire Councillor, G L Chandler was the driving force behind the hospital committee from its inception, the project started in earnest with a donation of 1,000 pounds from Sir William Angliss who represented the local Shire in the Legislative Council in the Parliament of Victoria.
For years Sir William made generous contributions to charities throughout the district he represented. At the same time Mrs A Nicholas of Burnham Beeches and her son Maurice Nicholas also donated 500 pounds for the provision of a surgical block in the memory of her husband A M Nicholas, merchant, philanthropist and co-founder of the Aspro company.
The foundation stone of the William Angliss Bush Nursing Hospital in Albert Street, Upper Ferntree Gully was laid on 18 August 1939 by the Hon. J V Fairbairn, Federal Member of Parliament for Flinders. The 10 bed hospital was officially opened by Sir William Angliss, MLC on 13 December 1939.
By 1946 it became evident that an increasing population warranted the provision of a larger hospital. So additional land was acquired in the area bounded by Edward and Albert Streets and Talaskia Road and plans were drawn for the provision of a 90 bed hospital.
At this time most of the Ladies’ Auxiliaries were also formed. Over the years they played an important role in raising funds towards the purchase of essential hospital equipment.
The Ladies Auxiliaries continue this important role to this day. As recently as 2016 the Ferntree Gully Auxiliary raised over $71,000.00 towards a Intubating Fibrescope for surgical services as well as items for the Special Care Nursery and Emergency and General Medicine.
Of course, the hospital has undergone significant growth since 1946. It is now part of Melbourne’s Eastern Health. Today Angliss services cover the south of Knox to the south west of the Yarra Ranges, as well as Croydon and parts of Ringwood. Hospital services include Emergency Care, General Medicine, Surgery, Intensive Care, Midwifery,
Paediatrics and Rehabilitation. The Angliss also offers programs which allow patients to be cared for in their homes. A high level aged care facility known as the Edward Street is located next to the Hospital.
In October 2018 a $20 million expansion of the Angliss hospital was completed. Funded by the Victorian State Government, this expansion includes a number of features and upgrades, the main one being the construction of a fourth level above the main hospital building to house critical care services including a 14-bed intensive care unit.
In a fitting symmetry to the story, the current MP for Monbulk and Deputy Premier James Merlino visited the newly opened 4th Level late last year.
Special bonds in a special place
Angliss staff: meet Jenni and Julie
The Angliss Hospital draws great loyalty from its staff.
Jenni Wray has nursed there since 1987 and her babies were born in the maternity wing. Julie Stevens began as a tea lady 22 years ago and now, as an allied health assistant, cheers patients in the physiotherapy wing with smiles and caring support.
We asked Jenni and Julie, ‘What is the magic of the Angliss?’ Both have an immediate response, ‘The real community feeling within the hospital’.
They explain that all the staff are valued for their commitment as part of the team. From the chief surgeon to those vital behind the scene, they know each other. Lifelong friendships have been made. Many staff travel long distances to work because of their commitment to the place. Jenni and Julie appreciate the sense of being supported in work that has many challenges as well as joys.
Maintaining the sense of community is paramount. Jenni explained that graduate nurses are mentored to instill a philosophy of caring for the patients as if they were a member of their own family. Staff can choose secondments to other hospitals and to undertake further study. Julie has been the recipient of an award for Workplace Health and Safety, one of many such awards which are offered to staff in all aspects of the hospital.
There have been great changes over the years. The east west wing is to be redeveloped in the next few years to include a new gymnasium for physiotherapy but Jenni and Julie know that patients are not concerned about the age or appearance of that particular building. A patient was recently delighted to find the number above her old bed in the former maternity wing just before it was finally painted over.
These days, as a modern teaching hospital the Angliss also supports hospital in the home and geriatric evaluation to enable patients to undergo assessment and treatment outside of the hospital. This frees up beds and also allows patients to recover in their own surroundings.
The overwhelming response of these two long-serving nurses is that the staff’s level of care and the view of the mountain are what make time spent in the Angliss such a special experience. When the mist lifts and the mountain reveals itself to an unsuspecting visitor, everyone enjoys the delight of their reaction.
Wildlife, too, play their part. One patient solved the mystery of the disappearing goldfish when he observed from his window a canny heron. The pond and the heron are now part of the hospital’s history.
The local community
The Angliss hospital fulfills the vision of its benefactors through the commitment of its staff to the community.
So many Ferntree Gully families will have links with the hospital through life’s cycle from birth to death. They have found support and relief as the Angliss has grown to meet their needs and those of the further community. This is evident in the many cards and letters to staff expressing patients’ deep appreciation of the care they have received. Julie remembers meeting a former patient who told her it was years since he had drunk a cuppa
made to her standard. Of course she promptly made him one with a smile.
Jenni and Julie especially acknowledge the support of the Ferntree Gully and Upper Ferntree Gully Auxiliaries which raise valuable funds every year for much appreciated equipment. The Occupational Therapy Department and Emergency Department have recently benefitted from funds raised.
The Angliss can truly be recognised as ‘a place of rest and healing for all who come’, nestling in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges which have themselves been a haven of health and healing to First People for thousands of years’.