Jun 21
Carmel hangs up her uniform after 34-years

One of the longest-serving and most treasured employees in the Bathurst and Orange region, Carmel Stanford, is retiring after dedicating 34-years to the nursing profession.

Carmelsaid it feels surreal to be leaving the Bathurst Health Service wards for good on the 3rd July, but she’s excited to put all those years of shift work behind her and embrace a more leisurely timetable.

“It goes without saying that I will miss my wonderful colleagues at the Bathurst Health Service and I know they will continue to achieve outstanding results caring for our community,” said Mrs Stanford.

“With a real sense of achievement and satisfaction, I can now move on to the next stage of my life. I’m really looking forward to spending more time with my children and grandchildren, who all live interstate. I’m also planning to travel overseas, which will be a great adventure.”

Carmelstarted training to be a nurse straight after finishing school. In 1967, she signed up for hospital-based training at St Vincent’s Public Hospital in Bathurst and after 4-years, she continued her work there as a fully qualified Registered Nurse (RN).

“Our training days were very busy - to say the least. We worked 40-hours a week, studied and completed exams, which were often scheduled after a night duty or our days off,” said Mrs Stanford.

“We had to live in the Nurses Home under the strict care of nuns, which meant we were constantly on-call for unfinished duties at the hospital. They made sure we were locked inside by 10pm at night, and opened the doors at 6am the following morning.

“Boyfriends were closely scrutinised by the nun in-charge, which was often an anxious and embarrassing process for everyone involved. In retrospect though, it was all pretty funny,” said Mrs Stanford.

Carmelsaid there was amazing camaraderie in the Nurses Home, despite the tight rein on their social lives.

“Many wonderful friendships were formed during my training days. I’m still in touch with many of the girls and even work with some of them at the Bathurst Health Service today,” said Mrs Stanford.

After finishing her training, she worked for 12-months as a RN at St Vincent’s Hospital and then took up an RN role in a local Medical Practice, until the birth of her son in 1974.

“I took six years off nursing to have my two children, Jason and Kellie, but returned in 1982 as a casual,” said Mrs Stanford.

“Six years later I commenced a Bachelor of Health Science at Charles Sturt University to keep up with changes in nursing.  This was a wonderful experience and brought my education in line with fellow nurses who were training through the tertiary system.”

Carmelgraduated in 1990, the same year her son Jason was completing his HSC.

“Our house was filled with books and we were both in study mode, but it was nice to be able to work with him and understand the demands he was experiencing at the time,” said Mrs Stanford.

With new knowledge and skills on board, Carmel was appointed as Nurse Unit Manager at St Vincent’s Hospital in the Medical Ward until it closed in 1999.  She then worked as the After Hours Manager at Orange Base Hospital until 2000, and then at Bathurst Base Hospital for a further decade until now.

“I feel very fortunate to have been part of the transition from the Heritage Hospital to the new and very modern Hospital that we work in today in Bathurst,” said Mrs Stanford. 

“I have great respect for the modern nurse, including the expertise and professionalism they have brought to the medical industry. I continue to see changes everyday and feel that patient care is continually improving as a result.

“I feel honoured to have contributed to the evolution of our profession and feel indebted to those who will continue our work into the future,” said Mrs Stanford.