A century of caring for children

From our 19th century origins at the Queen Victoria Hospital for Women and Children and at Prince Henry’s Hospital in Melbourne, children have been at the center of our service.

This history begins with the opening of the Victoria (later Queen Victoria) Hospital for women and children in 1896, established by the first women to graduate in medicine in Australia.

The Homeopathic Hospital (1869-1934), later known as Prince Henry’s Hospital (1934-1992) in Melbourne opened a children’s ward in 1910 until its closure following a major rationalisation of paediatric services across Victoria in 1978.

Children have been cared for at Monash Medical Centre from its creation in 1987 following the amalgamation of the Queen Victoria Medical Centre, Prince Henry’s Hospital and Moorabbin Hospital.

A children’s ward was established at Dandenong Hospital in 1955 and at Casey Hospital in 2004.

The opening of our new 230-bed dedicated Monash Children’s Hospital in Clayton is the start of an exciting new chapter in caring for children.

Take a look at our history below.

Historical photos

We are always delighted to receive photos which capture our heritage. Please send to Kim.Minett@monashhealth.org

Chronology of our children’s services

1869

Opening of the Homeopathic Hospital on Spring Street, Melbourne.

1875

The Homeopathic Hospital took over the Children’s Hospital building after the Hospital for Sick Children moved to new premises.

1896

The Queen Victoria Hospital opens as a hospital for women and children in poor and distressed circumstances in St David’s Welsh Church Hall, La Trobe Street, Melbourne.

1897

A Shilling Appeal raised over £3000 to purchase a suitable home for the Queen Victoria Hospital – the Governess Institute in Mint Place, Little Lonsdale Street.

1899

The Queen Victoria Hospital opens on 5 July, officially opened by Lady Brassey.

1904

Dr J.W. Günst, of the staff of the Homeopathic Hospital, gives £2,000 [$4,000] towards a children’s ward at that hospital.

1910

New children’s ward opens at the Homeopathic Hospital (known from 1934 as Prince Henry’s Hospital). The original ward, a brick building with slate roof and located at the rear of the main buildings, was opened by the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir John Madden, G.C.M.G., and Lady Madden, on 5 May. Dr William Ray, of the staff of the Homeopathic Hospital, was instrumental in arranging for the final cost of the ward and its furnishing to be met by an anonymous donor. Artists Jessie Traill and Ida Rentoul-Outhwaite decorate the Children’s Ward with paintings.

1919

Seventy nine children admitted to the Queen Victoria Hospital in the preceding twelve months, and their treatment in the general wards was inconvenient to all concerned.

1920

Appeal by the Queen Victoria Hospital for £20,000 for a ward for children. In June, Dr Margaret McLorinan established a special antenatal clinic at the Queen Vic.

1921

Only one of the two large children’s wards existing at the Homeopathic Hospital was in use. There were not enough bedrooms for more nurses to be engaged to attend to more patients.

1922

The new children’s ward opened at the Queen Victoria Hospital on 21 September. Ms Jessie Traill beautifully decorated the ward. Parties of children from many metropolitan State Schools presented gifts to the ward and some supported special cots. Princess Mary asked that her wedding gift from the women of Victoria be used to endow a cot at the hospital.

1923

Queen Victoria Hospital’s department for children’s diseases expands.

1929

Dr Kate Campbell is appointed inaugural lecturer in neo-natal paediatrics at the University of Melbourne, a post she holds until 1965.

1934

Conversion of the Homeopathic Hospital into the new Prince Henry’s Hospital after the Charities Board decides to rebuild it.

1940

The Premier of Victoria, the Hon Albert Dunstan officially opens Prince Henry’s Hospital on 10 October, a tall and graceful central block fronting St Kilda Road in South Melbourne. The children’s ward is on the tenth floor.

1942

Dandenong Hospital opens as a small country hospital, originally known as Dandenong and District Hospital. The first baby born there was Mr Francis Murphy.

1943

The Children’s Ward at Prince Henry’s Hospital, which during the period of danger from air raids was transferred to the ground floor, is reinstalled on the tenth floor, where bright and cheerful surroundings “materially assist in the happiness and wellbeing of the little inmates.” The Australasian Women’s Association establishes the A.W.A. Nursery at the Queen Victoria Hospital.

1945

A cold winter prompts plans to found a special nursery for premature babies after an influx of such babies from small, suburban midwifery hospitals arrive at the centrally heated and better-equipped Queen Victoria Hospital.

1946

A premature babies’ ward opens at Queen Victoria Hospital, which saves many lives, as it admits infants born where specialised care is not available.

There are 187 births at Dandenong Hospital.

1947

The rapidly increasing birth rate and need for more maternity beds at the Queen Victoria Hospital make a further move necessary – to the former Melbourne Hospital at the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne. The Queen Victoria Hospital is the first major hospital in Melbourne to liberalise visiting hours for parents, introduced by paediatrician Dr Kate Campbell, the hospital’s founder of neonatology, and Sister Marion Ievers.

There are 265 births at Dandenong Hospital.

1948

A Birth Room Suite at the Queen Victoria Hospital offers “every modern device”.

1950

Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital sends 20 nurses to receive training in children’s nursing at the Queen Victoria Hospital.

A Christmas Eve cricket match between the Ponsford’s XI and the Empire Cricket Writers XI raises funds for a new nursery for premature babies at Queen Victoria Hospital.

1952

Dr Kate Campbell accurately attributes the cause of blindness in premature babies to excessive administration of oxygen therapy. Remodelling of the Queen Victoria Hospital’s children’s ward.

1953

Around 40 babies a month delivered in a midwifery section at Dandenong Hospital designed to accommodate six babies. At that time, mothers and babies stayed in hospital for about two weeks.

1954

Dr Kate Campbell receives a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the Queen Victoria Hospital and to babies.

1955

Improved blood transfusion methods achieved by Queen Victoria Hospital significantly reduce infant mortality rate.

Following the acquisition of additional land by the Dandenong Hospital, a children’s ward and additions to the midwifery section open.

1959

A heatwave makes conditions very difficult in Queen Victoria Hospital’s children’s ward and nursery. An appeal for portable fans and large blocks of ice receives a responses from as far away as Bombay.

The City of Dandenong is proclaimed on 14 March. As the fastest growing municipality in Australia, it is predicted that it would become the state’s second city. The opening of extensions to Dandenong Hospital by the mayor, Cr George Andrews, are part of the celebrations.

1960s

Pioneering treatments by the Queen Victoria Hospital for children with cancer and haemophilia.

1960

There are plans to convert Dandenong Hospital into a base hospital to provide for a larger region that is rapidly changing from countryside to industrial suburb.

1961

Berry Street Mothercraft Nurses complete one month of their training in the nurseries of Queen Victoria Hospital.

1962

Planning for a greatly expanded paediatric service at Prince Henry’s Hospital.

1964

Monash University establishes a new Department of Paediatrics at Queen Victoria Hospital. Professor Carl Wood was appointed Foundation Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Monash University’s decision provides a “collaboration between Paediatrics and Obstetrics, unique in Australia and rare anywhere”.

1965

Professor Arthur Colvin Lindesay Clark is appointed Foundation Professor of Paediatrics. Thirty two undergraduate students attended a 10-week course, emphasising the normal development of children and the common illnesses of childhood. The Department of Paediatrics included Reginald R.W. Townley, Ian I. Findlay and Gretta Danielson.

The new Adoption of Children Act requires the almoner to attend a court hearing for every child adopted from Queen Victoria Hospital. The 42 adoptions for the first half of the year almost equals that for the whole of the previous year.

1967

Payment of paediatricians begins. The number of babies awaiting adoption and being cared for by the Queen Victoria Hospital doubles. Eleanor S. (Ruth) Wertheim, who developed family therapy as a pragmatic approach to problems she confronted in her work, joined the Department of Paediatrics at Monash University. She is among the first psychologists to direct attention towards the problem of children with multiple minimal handicaps.

1968

A clinic for children with cerebral palsy opens at Queen Victoria Hospital.

It is decided to redevelop Dandenong Hospital’s original building as a modern maternity hospital.

1969

The Agnes Nathan Children’s Unit at Queen Victoria Hospital is opened on 22 August by Dr John Lindell, Chairman of the Hospitals and Charities. The Unit encompasses all sections of the hospital’s Paediatric Department. A new antenatal clinic is constructed, with birth room and theatre extensions.

1970

A new paediatric ward opens at Queen Victoria Hospital.

1971

Dr Kate Campbell is awarded a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE), recognising her outstanding contribution to the welfare of Australian children.

In the rapidly growing district of Dandenong, there is an ever-increasing demand for maternity beds as the annual number of births peaks at 2003.

1972

Queen Victoria Hospital’s Family Planning Clinic is the first in a public hospital in Victoria. The Foetal Intensive Care Unit and Department of Family Psychiatry open at the Queen Victoria Hospital. The Hospital’s Department of Diagnostic Cardiology investigates adults but also children and neonatal patients with cardiac disease.

1973

The Paediatric Department at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital organises itself into four units, into line with the hospital’s other departments. A patient from Morwell is the first child to receive a kidney transplant. The paediatric renal specialist and the Renal Unit staff of Prince Henry’s Hospital collaborate with the Queen Victoria Hospital in her treatment.

1974

Dr Margaret McIver is appointed Honorary Paediatric Nephrologist at the Queen Vic. Dr Gary Zentner, paediatrician to the Dandenong Hospital, is made an Honorary Lecturer in the Paediatrics Department in recognition of his role in the teaching of Monash students in neo-natal paediatrics, and his contributions to teaching at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital.

In the same year, a Mothercraft Clinic opens at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, providing much-needed care for both pre- and post-natal patients. The clinic proves to be of great value in teaching student midwives. By 1974, paediatric physicians include Mona Blanch, Dame Kate Campbell, Elizabeth Turner, Kate Mackay, Reuben D. Glass, Rae N. Matthews, John C. Spensley, Kenneth R. Mountain, Margaret B. Horan and Norrene M. Nicholson.

1975

The Paediatric Unit at Prince Henry’s Hospital is now able to offer a more comprehensive service to paediatric patients. Two paediatric physicians and one paediatric surgeon are available for consultant opinion. The nursing standard in Ward 10 West is recognised as being as high as any other Melbourne teaching hospital unit.

A Neonatal Special Care Nursery of 36 cots is established at the Queen Vic with ten cots for babies needing intensive care.

By this time the term “base hospital”, used for large country hospitals has been dropped from Dandenong Hospital’s name. It is now a suburban teaching hospital.

The Moorabbin Community and District Hospital is opened on 1 December by the then Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Winneke, on Centre Road in East Bentleigh. The midwifery ward opens with eight beds while the nursery block was equipped by the Kiwanis Club of Moorabbin.

A French obstetrician, Leboyer, published “Birth Without Violence.” The Queen Vic became the first hospital in Australia to offer this technique.

1976

The Children’s Ward at Prince Henry’s Hospital modernises, meaning the Paediatric Service can better care for acute respiratory and post-anaesthetic patients. The changes “make it one of the most attractive children’s wards in Melbourne.”

At Moorabbin Hospital, the midwifery ward’s beds are extended from eight to twenty – with 422 babies born at the hospital. The smallest baby in the history of the hospital was born, while half the babies born need intensive care. Two community groups The Pacemaker Set and the Seventy Sevens contribute funds for a new humidicrib for the hospital.

Professor Victor Yu establishes a complete Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Queen Victoria Hospital, also introducing neonatal ventilation. Dr Max Robinson appointed by to General Paediatrics. Paediatric physicians include Mona Blanch, Dame Kate Campbell, Elizabeth Turner, Reuben D. Glass and among senior medical staff, Professor Arthur Clark and Ian I. Findlay. Dr Kevin Collins was a Paediatric Neurologist.

1977

The Paediatric Ward at Prince Henry’s Hospital is completely re-organised with improved observation of more acutely ill children. The playroom integrates within the ward and the Sister’s Station enlarges to allow direct viewing into all sections. A realignment of all facilities makes for a more functional ward without “losing any of the character which has made the Children’s Ward at Prince Henry’s Hospital so much liked by patients and their parents alike.”

Moorabbin Hospital has its first birth on 15 January, when Jacob Evans is born, weighing 3325 grams. This event is marked with presentation of a silver chalice to mother and baby by the ladies auxiliary. This is the beginning of a baby boom as during that year 268 babies are delivered at Moorabbin Hospital.

At the Queen Victoria Hospital, a new ultrasound machine enables diagnosis of the unborn child without invasive procedures.

1978

Closure of Children’s Ward at Prince Henry’s Hospital on 24 November after several years of declining occupancy rates and a trend towards rationalization of paediatric services across Victoria. An estimated 70,000 children had been treated since its opening.

The Centre for Early Human Development opens at Queen Victoria Hospital.

1979

A midwife-run Birth Centre at the Queen Victoria Hospital offers a new concept in obstetric care in homelike surroundings. This Birth Centre was the first in Australia to introduce the Leboyer technique of gently delivering a baby. A 24-hour Sexual Assault Clinic Service, Centre for Obstetrics & Gynaecology and the Neonatal Care Unit open at the Queen Victoria Hospital. All three are firsts for the Victorian health system. Buoyed by the success of treatments for thalassaemia and other diseases once considered life-threatening to children, Queen Victoria Hospital establishes an Adolescent Service for long-term follow-up.

1980

The first Australian IVF baby born since IVF introduced in 1978 at Queen Victoria Hospital. Queen Vic’s Paediatric Haematology Clinic is recognised as one of two centres in Victoria to care for children with leukaemia. The Child Psychiatric Service opens as part of the South Eastern Region Child and Family Service. A Perinatal Centre offers comprehensive care for women with “at risk” pregnancies. Jessie McPherson and Queen Victoria Hospital Birth Suites amalgamate. Queen Victoria Hospital assumes management of the medical and paramedical services of the Nepean Centre, a school for the disabled in Frankston.

1981

A Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Service opens at Queen Victoria Hospital with Dr David Mushin as its Clinical Director. Eight of Australia’s eleven test-tube babies are delivered, including the world’s first test-tube twins. Success attracts international attention and provokes discussion about ethics and consequences of IVF.

1982

Monash University scientists at Queen Victoria Medical Centre lead the world in fertility research with 21 children born as a result of their work IVF. A Paediatric Action Committee introduces programs to meet social and emotional needs of children in hospital and their parents. Opening of the Care by Parent Unit in the Queen Victoria Hospital’s children’s ward, allows parents to live in at the hospital and provide care under the guidance of nurses. The Lightweight Club forms as a self-help group to support families with preterm infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Specialist paediatric clinics open at McCulloch House in Clayton.

1983

On 2 May, the IVF team at the Queen Victoria Hospital, led by Professor Carl Wood, report the world’s first pregnancy from a frozen embryo and the world’s first pregnancy using donor ova. Professor Carl Wood is awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). A report on the survival of babies born after a gestation of 24-26 weeks is ta first in Australia and the most comprehensive in the world.

1984

The Monash IVF team at Queen Victoria Hospital report the birth of the world’s first baby conceived from a frozen embryo. A Play and Education Department is established at the Queen Victoria Hospital to facilitate normal intellectual and emotional development of children during their stay. Queen Victoria Hospital receives two extra neonatal cots with $1.1 million funding. Child Psychiatry provides services to an existing child guidance clinic at Dandenong. Queen Victoria Hospital’s thalassaemia services expand with a transfer of 31 older patients from the Royal Children’s Hospital to receive regular transfusions.

1985

In January, the Victorian Government approves a State-wide Renal Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Unit for infants and children at Queen Victoria Hospital. The Government also approves grants enabling the Queen Victoria Hospital and Royal Children’s Hospital’s joint Paediatric Cardiology Service to expand.

1986

Staff of the Paediatric Renal Unit organize the first Queen Victoria Hospital Kidney Kids Camp, a one week bush camp for children with end stage renal disease, and their siblings.

1987

Monash Medical Centre is created through the amalgamation of the Queen Victoria Medical Centre, Prince Henry’s Hospital and Moorabbin Hospital. Opening of Monash Medical Centre Clayton on 1 July 1987 for patients, with admission of first patients on 19 July 1987. Patient care at Monash Medical Centre effectively commences with the birth of a baby girl, Jessica Lauren Bailey, at 3.22 am on 20 July 1987. The Premier, the Hon John Cain, officially opens the new centre on 19 September 1987. In the same year, Monash Medical Centre becomes the second-largest children’s hospital in Victoria Designated sections of Prince Henry’s move progressively to Clayton over coming years.

TV newsreader Jo Pearson opens the Family Birth Centre at Dandenong Hospital. The centre enabled women to have babies in homelike surroundings with their families present, while still having professional care.

1989

Monash Medical Centre offers a training program, theatre experience and research in paediatrics, fostering a need to integrate with other regional services to form a comprehensive network of care for children.

On 6 March, Aymen Hag, a healthy baby boy, is the first child born at Moorabbin Hospital’s Community Midwifery Centre. Ms Alison French was the midwife coordinator.

1990

In June, construction of the new West Block at the Moorabbin Campus of Monash Medical Centre is completed. The Birth Centre created for Monash Medical Centre Clayton moves to Moorabbin in September.

1991

The Thalassaemia/Medical Therapy Unit expands to provide a state-wide specialist service for both adults and children, with 120 people under its care.

1992

Prince Henry’s Hospital closes.

In April, Monash Medical Centre becomes the site of Victoria’s second Ronald McDonald House. The project attracts widespread community support, with McDonald’s and the Commonwealth Golf Club leading the way in raising $1 million to construct the house

1993

The Monash Kids Support Group is established as a support group for the Children’s Division of Monash Medical Centre. “KOALA” (Kids Oncology and Leukaemia Action Group) is formed to provide information and support to children being treated for cancer and haematological diseases at Monash Medical Centre and their families.

1995

Southern Health Care Network is established, consisting of Monash Medical Centre Clayton and Monash Medical Centre Moorabbin, Dandenong and District Hospital and Kingston Centre.

Professor Carl Wood is named a Companion in the General Division (AC) in the Australia Day Honours List.

1999

A new paediatric gym opens at Monash Medical Centre Clayton.

2000

In July, the Southern Health Care Network is superseded by Southern Health, formed through a partnership with the Federal and State Governments to offer a system of “integrated care” to patients. Southern Health becomes the largest metropolitan health service in Victoria.

In October, McCulloch House (adjacent to Monash Medical Centre Clayton) becomes a site for the Victoria Paediatric Palliative Care Program, a partnership between Monash Medical Centre, the Royal Children’s Hospital and Very Special Kids.

2001

Midwives from Greater Dandenong’s Community Health Service at Springvale run a mothers’ group for Vietnamese and Cambodian women having their first baby in Australia.

2004

In mid-January, birthing services move back from Moorabbin to Clayton. World-first research at Monash Medical Centre Clayton examines music therapy for infants withdrawing from foetally acquired drug dependence. In July, the Starlight Children’s Foundation officially opens its highly anticipated Starlight Room at Clayton.

On 3 October, the Premier of Victoria, the Hon Mr Steve Bracks, officially opens Casey Hospital in Berwick, the newest addition to Southern Health.

2006

Children’s Cancer Centre opens at Monash Medical Centre.

In early July, Casey Hospital delivered its 1000th baby.

2007

On 14 June, a new extension to Ronald McDonald House in Monash Medical Centre opens for long-term critically ill young patients and their parents.

A $10 million redevelopment of the Emergency Department at Monash Medical Centre Clayton offers separate treatment and waiting areas for children and adults.

2008

Dr Chris Kimber and a team of paediatric neonatologists successfully perform the world’s first ‘in utero’ surgery on Baby Leah, whose umbilical cord was found to be obstructing blood flow to her right foot.

2009

On 19 June, Baby Taylor becomes the world’s smallest baby ever to be fitted with an adult-sized external pacemaker by Monash Medical Centre’s Dr Andrew Cochrane.

2010

The State Government commits $5.2 million to expand the Special Care Nursery at Casey Hospital to grow services from a six-bed service to 20 beds.

2011

A new Ronald McDonald Family Room opens at Clayton providing a haven for families of children being treated in hospital.

Mental health care for young people is reorganised under the banner of the Early in Life Mental Health Service (ELMHS) offering specialist multi-disciplinary tertiary services for people under the age of 25.

2012

An interdisciplinary Paediatric Aboriginal Health Team is formed to enhance care to young Aboriginal people in our community.

2014

Construction of the new Monash Children’s Hospital begins. Consultation with children, families and staff form a core part of planning, ensuring our youngest patients remain at the centre of our care.

Clinicians from the Fetal Diagnostic Unit perform an experimental procedure to treat twins with a rare life-threatening condition called Twin Anemia Polycythemia Sequence. The conditions means one twin is starved of blood and the other receives too much. Both twins were successfully delivered.

2015

A Hip Dysplasia Clinic opens at Monash Medical Centre Clayton to provide more efficient and effective diagnosis and treatment for infants with this debilitating condition.

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