OPINION: Last month's passing of loved Southland Hospital nurse Rachel Peek brought 100 nurses to talk of their time as students living in the Nurses' Home at the hospital, writes Pat Veltkamp Smith in And Another Thing.
Lesley Gray shared the regulations in force in 1955, the year she and Rachel had next-door rooms.
Signed by the Lady Superintendent Miss C M Lucas, they were strictly enforced and Caroline May, as the girls knew her in private, had an instinct for knowing when a rule was flouted.
The rules said a nurse must never sleep in another nurse's room.
She must be in her own room by 10.30pm with the light out by 11pm, with silence to reign supreme after that hour.
“Loitering" was never permitted, not in hospital corridors going on or off shift, nor at the hospital gates or front door when returning from a permitted pass out, with the leave book to be correctly signed on re-entry.
Some visiting was permitted, but only of off-duty nurses; the visitor to remain in the waiting room and be shown the door no later than 10pm.
Nurses were not allowed to miss a meal, or to take dishes to the bedroom without signed sickness authority from the Home Sister.
Only the Supervising Sister could give written permission to use the telephone for a toll call and the phone was to be used only in off-duty time.
Smoking was forbidden in corridors of the Nurses' Home and in the hospital grounds, but the habit must have been acknowledged because the rules reminded nurses of the need for “extreme care in extinguishing matches and cigarette butts".
Uniforms were hugely important, with instructions about their use and wear including rules that no cardigans might be worn, only the correct cape, available from the Sister in charge of the sewing room.
The uniform was to be treated with care, not worn when cleaning or doing washing, although the nurse could send “six overalls and two dress uniforms" to the laundry each week.
Confidentiality was important.
“No Hospital matters, whatsoever, may be spoken of out of the Hospital.
“Nurses must have permission from the Senior Sister before visiting patients.
“Nurses are not permitted to talk or fraternise with patients in the Hospital or grounds."
That was something those student nurses made together.
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