Happy birthday! Lyell McEwin Hospital turns 60

Sharon Coad was the first girl born in a small hospital built in a paddock just north of Adelaide 60 years ago — the same hospital that this week will deliver its 104,560th baby.

The Lyell McEwin Hospital opened its doors with 45 beds six decades ago tomorrow as a community facility to serve the state’s first satellite city of Elizabeth.

A week later the first three babies were born — among them was Ms Coad. By the time she was seven, the LMH had more than tripled in size to 153 beds. When she turns 60 this week the “Lyell Mac” will have close to 400 inpatients, 5185 staff, completed more than 16,500 surgeries and treated up to 73,000 emergency patients in the past year.

“I’ve given birth to my son at the Lyell McEwin, had nieces and great nieces born there and my mum passed away there,” Ms Coad said.

media_cameraLyell McEwin Hospital aerial view in 1959.
media_cameraLyell McEwin Hospital aerial view in 2019

“The Lyell McEwin has been the one constant of Elizabeth — its now the epicentre of the area and you’d be hard to find a person here who hasn’t been a visitor or patient there.”

Meredith Hobbs, one of the longest-serving nurses at LMH, said the medical advances in maternity care alone had been incredible to witness.

“Nurses had to sterilise everything — there were no disposables; drips were manually set; patients could smoke in the wards and men were just starting to be allowed into the delivery suite,” said Ms Hobbs, now head of the women’s and children’s division for the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network (NALHN).

media_cameraSir Lyell McEwin presents graduation certificate to 21-year-old nurse Meredith Hobbs now Women’s and Children’s divisional director for NALHN.
media_cameraLyell McEwin Hospital opens newspaper article from April 22, 1959.

LMH patient 21-year-old first-time mum Kassandra Spence says a short labour and good care meant she was home within 48 hours of giving birth to McKenzie last week.

“The first 24 hours I just couldn’t keep my eyes off her and I just wanted to get her home, ” she said.

NALHN CEO Maree Geraghty said the hospital’s growth during the past 60 years had been exponential and continuing with a $58 million expansion of the Emergency Department to double capacity by 2021.

“The population of northern Adelaide is growing at a rapid rate, and with that comes a growing demand for health services,” she said.

Over $50m is being invested to create a new Emergency Department for Lyell McEwin Hospital.

Lyell McEwin Hospital upgrade