Wellington Branch History

Like all branches, the Wellington Branch has had a number of members who have been or are currently leaders (clinically and professionally) and mentors to their physiotherapy colleagues.

TAGS: Wellington Branch

Like all branches, the Wellington Branch has had a number of members who have been or are currently leaders (clinically and professionally) and mentors to their physiotherapy colleagues. Many of our members have become international speakers, or written books and articles and encouraged all physiotherapists to keep reaching higher with clinical knowledge and patient outcomes whilst others have dedicated many hours of their time and knowledge to the Physiotherapy Board and Physiotherapy New Zealand executive and committees. To all of these leaders and mentors we say thank you for your inspiration and dedication to the profession.

However, there have been many other Physiotherapists over the years that have helped shape the profession to what it is today and I have had the pleasure of working with a small group of these people who are residents at Te Hopai Aged Care Facility in Wellington. With their permission they have shared tales of their working lives.

Pauline Angus was a fore runner in paediatric physiotherapy who trained at Otago in 1944; she reminded me that a newly qualified Physiotherapist went out on to the ward at the same level of authority as the ward Sister. A glimpse of Pauline’s work is on film in the National Archives and a group of residents from Te Hopai went to watch it recently.

Margaret Cooper and Bev Pole were from the class of 1955. Mr Pole remembered receiving a call from someone at the hospital requesting that Bev returned to work after she stopped to have a baby because Physiotherapists were in such short supply and their expertise was so sought after. Bev was a hospital Physiotherapist and went on to specialise in paediatrics and wheelchair prescription. June Stevenson was also of the 1955 class and is a visitor to Te Hopai. At the same facility we have an R/N whose daughter is about to commence her second year as a student Physiotherapist at Otago. Te Hopai is also lucky enough to have other current Physiotherapy Students attend as part of their training. As you can imagine our retired Physiotherapy residents love meeting them.

June spoke to me about her working life; she reminded me that physiotherapists had worked with polio patients who required the use of an “iron lung” which was the ventilator of its time. June had performed passive movements to these patients while the nursing staff had the machine open for patient cares and the patient was ‘bagged” while off the ventilator and receiving inputs. June reflected that those patients often didn’t survive long after they came off the iron lung treatment; it was a difficult time in our history and something that we are still reminded of with our “post polio” patients today. An example of the “iron lung” is on display at the Museum at Kenepuru Hospital. June went on to work in rheumatology in Wellington.

Members of the Wellington Branch have left financial bequests over the years for the professional advancement of local branch members and currently members benefit from this through the “Searchwell Grant”. The Searchwell fund was started with some surplus fundraising from an enterprising group of physiotherapists who wished to attend the WCPT in Sydney Australia in the 1980’s. This grant is offered each year for Wellington members conducting research. Those members who have received the grant present their research findings to the Branch meeting and so the professional cycle moves on.

Branch meetings are an excellent way to keep in touch with Physiotherapists, share knowledge and develop friendships which, if we look at Pauline, Margaret, Bev and June are likely to be life-long.

Happy “100 years” University of Otago, School of Physiotherapy and many more!

Louise Waghorn, MPNZ, On behalf of the Wellington Branch Committee.


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