Matrons Dickson and McNevin – dedicated and courageous professionals

Among the many medical professionals who worked at Prince Henry Hospital were two remarkable women, Matron Clarice Dickson and Matron Ethel McNevin.

Clarice Dickson hailed from Queensland and worked at The Coast Hospital (the original name of Prince Henry) off and on from 1909. She was one of the first nurses to offer her services during the First World War.

Dickson was on transport duty in Egypt, Malta, Lemnos, and finally in France with a casualty clearing unit, receiving a medal for courageous dedication to duty under fire. She returned to Prince Henry in 1920 becoming Matron in 1936, and retiring in 1937. The Matron Dickson Nurses’ Home, now The Dickson apartments, in Pavilion Drive, was named after her. The nurses’ home accommodated 225 nurses who trained and practised at the Hospital. It is now one of 19 heritage listed buildings on the State Heritage Register for the Prince Henry Site.

Clarice Dickson was followed by Ethel McNevin as Matron. McNevin arrived at The Coast Hospital in 1915 as a trainee and worked at the Hospital until 1926.

Ethel McNiven’s first post as Matron was at Coonamble District Hospital. She went on to become Matron at Perth Hospital before returning to take over as Matron at Prince Henry in 1937. Following her retirement Matron McNevin worked as the librarian in the Medical library and lived in a small flat in the Matron Dickson Nurses’ Home. She died at the hospital in July 1960. The former McNevin Nurses’ Home was on the site of the current over 55s residential complex in Pine Avenue.

Not only were both women dedicated medical professionals, but they also pursued career paths which would be considered courageous even by today’s standards.

Author − Robyn Alexander