Topic: Sister Katarina Simpson

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Delivering babies, repairing boilers, all in a day’s work. Newspaper interview August 1984.

For Sister Katarina Simpson of the Kawerau Maternity Hospital, her greatest pleasure is watching new mothers gradually become confident in handling their newly born babies. “When they first pick up their new baby they hardly know one end from the other but by the fourth day, they are handling them with aplomb. It’s  quite unbelievable,” she says.

Sister Simpson is in charge of the hospital and confesses that she has to know something about everything from boilers and electrical equipment to filling in forms and secretarial work. Her day begins about 7.00 am when she receives the night sister’s report and does her rounds. From 8 to 9.30 the mothers are taught mother-craft and breast-feeding of their babies. Administration is squeezed in between feeds, and Sister finds that a great deal of her time is spent answering telephoned queries from worried mothers and grandmothers. She also gives advice on marital problems, contraceptives and family planning. The next feed time is at 12.30 before lunch and then more rounds later on are interspersed with nappy changes and other duties. Her working day officially finishes at 3.30 pm but she is often on call when a baby is due.

Although Sister Simpson has only been at Kawerau Maternity Hospital for 5 years she has been in the nursing profession for over 22 years, with terms worked as Rotorua, Thames, Coromandel, Papakura and Te Puia Springs. She is the only full time midwife at the hospital but there are other part-time midwives on staff. Although the babies are generally delivered by the midwife, there is always a doctor on hand in case of emergencies. But Sister Simpson’s work doesn’t begin at the birth. The pregnant mother is seen several times before the event, beginning with the visit to the hospital where her family history, and other particulars are checked. These include whether the patient is allergic to penicillin, how many previous births, etc. An approximate date is worked out for the birth and the patient is provisionally booked in. Another check at 36 weeks and then the final appointment when the patient’s waters have broken and contractions are coming regularly. The special loading bay at the back of the hospital is made ready as is delivery room. After birth mother stays for 6-7 days depending on their health. Sister Simpson says  “It’s the best job in the world”.

Reference: Kawerau News/Gazette, 28 August 1984, p. 5.

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Sister Katarina Simpson


First Names:Katarina
Last Name:Simpson