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My Memories of "Minnie Martin" by Liz Jackson It was with great sadness that on reaching the last page of last year's 'Newsletter' I read of Sister M. Martin's death - not knowing she was a 'Margaretta’, as she was affectionately known as "Minnie Martin" to those privileged to have passed through the doors of 'Rushout Ward', while she was Sister there. My first Ward was Wheeley Lee, then Women's Surgical under Sister F.E.Brown, another great Sister at the time and a good friend of 'Minnie's'. I well remember them going on their tea-breaks together and the cross-word competitions. "Cleanliness was next to Godliness" in 'Minnie's eyes - her wooden floor her pride and joy. Having survived the hustle and bustle of Wheeley Lee, where I spent several weeks in the sluice washing bed-pans and rubber draw-macs and appearing on the ward with the heated bed-pan trolley, in my large white gown and then graduating to the Clinical room to lay the dressing trolleys up for the "Dressing Nurses" and escorting patients to and from Theatre. I was then assigned to 'Rushout'. I know, "Wheel'em in and rush'em out" - Sorry Miss Hulme!. I was somewhat nervous as I'd heard of "Minnie's" reputation as a strict perfectionist. I quickly realised that if I was ever going to "make it" in the profession - it started and might end on 'Rushout'. Time to grow up Elizabeth and face the challenge, and that no passenger would be tolerated, only high standards in even menial tasks. Feeding patients in bed was done sitting down, the meal neatly presented on a tray, and the patient not to be rushed. As very few patients were allowed out of bed in those days, bed-making was perhaps the most important procedure in conjunction with bed baths and "Minnie" would often join me! She designed this amazing "bed-chair", a large 'bed height' wooden contraption on wheels, with removable arms, so that the patient could be gently slid out onto it. Specially beneficial to her Cardiac men and gratifying to see them returned to a nice fresh bed. It was written about in one of the Nursing Journals - much to Minnie's delight, and I wonder if it was preserved for the school of Nursing? I, of course, was the unfortunate junior who spilt a large bottle of Milton on it -reproducing the size of the map of America and causing to pale so much that Minnie sent me off to an extended tea break - and never mentioned it on my return. Minnie's medical knowledge was profound and I well remember one case which had the Consultants and Dr. Henderson the Bacteriologist - baffled. Sue was on A/L and over the week-end a severely jaundiced man was admitted - A giant of a man, a local farm hand, who quickly became delirious and so uncontrollable , despite I.M. Chlorpromazine, that two male orderlies from Powick Mental Hospital had to 'Special Him' in a secure cot at night. Minnie arrived back on duty on the Monday, took one look at him and his notes and calmly diagnosed - Weil's Disease and announced that he would only respond to massive doses of Penicillin and that he probably contracted it from potatoes contaminated with rat urine. He also had a large cut on his right hand, she told them. Sure enough, further blood tests confirmed the diagnosis and he responded to the treatment. I later encountered 'Minnie' when Rushout moved to Ronkswood - Ward 11. My friend Gwen Morris was her Staff Nurse, what an achievement, and I was Staff Nurse on Ward 12 - Women's Medical. Minnie didn't settle very well there we thought - no wooden floors for a start - too much dust! I last saw her looking gorgeous in an emerald green dress and matching Pill Box hat. I think it was at our 40th League Anniversary in 1992. We had an enjoyable chat about Rushout etc., and she actually remembered me. I pray that she had the best of care in the last years and the peaceful death she so deserved. God bless "Minnie Martin SRN RMN" Liz Jackson (nee McMahon) 1961 -1964


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