Now at 71 and the oldest employee at the hospital, Mieke works in the Visiting Midwifery Service, providing advice to mums with newborn babies in their homes to ensure they are coping mentally and physically.
Looking back at her time as a nurse ahead of International Midwives Day on May 5, Mieke said it was hard to compare her early days in nursing with today’s profession.
“When I started there was no occupational health and safety, no disposable goods and we were living in nursing quarters working long shifts,” she said.
“Lights out was at 10pm and wages were two and six pence per week.”
Mieke’s association with St John of God Health Care started as a 17-year-old when she completed her training at St John of God Ballarat Hospital.
She went on to work as a nurse in the Outback and in developing countries.
“I continued my studies through my career and gained qualifications in midwifery, child health, theatre, ICU, counselling, sport and recreation, family and sexual health, addiction studies, forensic and prison health, and becoming an enhanced midwife,” she said.
She rejoined the organisation last year after she transferred from Swan District Hospital when it closed in November.
St John of God Midland Public Hospital chief executive Glen Power said the hospital was fortunate to have retained Mieke upon opening the new hospital.
“Mieke offers our maternity patients the reassurance of her lifetime of experience in midwifery, and we are extremely grateful that her insights and skills are available to benefit both our patients and staff,” Dr Power said.
Mieke said when she began her career, child and community health was done on push bikes and public transport, and being a matron in the bush meant caring for all living creatures, not just people.
“In Third World countries the care is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, with cultural beliefs and practices often being a major challenge. Yet having travelled that continuum of time, evaluating those changes makes you realise that learning and sharing our knowledge never ceases,” she said.
“There are no regrets, just joy and passion for having chosen wisely.”
Mieke is one of the nurses being recognised at St John of God Midland Public Hospital on International Midwives Day on May 5.