Lisa Milne remembers sitting in the old dining room at Proserpine Hospital as a six-year-old while her grandmother worked as a cook.
Her grandmother also had the young Girl Guide hard at work, cleaning louvres in the walkways to earn her community service badge.
Now, 40 years later, Lisa is still working in the hospital she was born in and holds so many happy memories for her.
As Proserpine Hospital Nurse Unit Manager she is responsible for leading the team that provides nursing care to the Whitsunday community.
Nursing was never in Lisa’s future when she was at school and instead dreamed of following in her mother’s footsteps to become a teacher.
She always knew she wanted to help people and the time she spent with her grandmother in the hospital helped change her mind.
In 1991 she moved out of her hometown to attend university in Rockhampton where she studied nursing.
“After moving to Rockhampton, I was on my own for the first time with my closest family in Gladstone,” she said.
“It was really good but quite daunting because I was only 17 at the time. But it ended up being the best years of my life.”
After graduating from university Lisa spent some time working on different wards at the Rockhampton Base Hospital and 18 months moved to work at Mackay Base Hospital.
“I worked in a few areas at Mackay Base Hospital first in the medical floor and then in check services like palliative care for a little while.
“I ended up getting a clinical nurse position in medical floor and I loved it. Mackay was a great place to work in.
“After a few years working at the Base I came back to Prossie for my cousin’s 21st and I met my now husband. It was then I decided to move back to Proserpine.”
It took 12 months for Lisa to secure a job in Proserpine because of the tight knit community people just didn’t want to leave.
“Proserpine Hospital is a good little hospital and it’s all about the community. That is why we stay for so long,” she said.
“I love fact that I can come to work and see people I know, and I like my team.
“Proserpine Hospital is much more than a building; it is about relationships. You get to know people, their kids, their stories. This place is just like my other family.”
Over the years Lisa has watched Proserpine Hospital grow and she says it is satisfying to know she has played a part in being able to give people services closer to home.
“Some of the biggest changes I have seen during my time here is around the availability of services for our community, such as the growth of telehealth,” she said.
“We were also one of the first rural facilities in Queensland to get a CT scanner.
In more recent times we were the first rural hospital in Queensland with a stroke pathway to use the life-saving treatment, tenecteplase on ischaemic stroke patients.
“Activity has grown over the years too. When I first started as NUM, I was the recovery nurse as well. I couldn’t do that now.”
While there has been lots of change over the years from hospital renovations to new faces, Lisa says there is one thing that hasn’t changed. The community spirit. This was most evident during 2017 when Cyclone Debbie battered the picturesque community.
“Cyclone Debbie was a big thing and it was a really hard time for us to support staff through that,” she said.
“I will never forget staff that were here did the work of ten people. They never complained, they never whinged, they just did it. It was everyone one too – from executive down. We just got in and did what needed to be done.
“How we have come through from that and the fact that we came together was amazing. Goes to show you that country people are resilient.
“Cyclone Debbie was one of the hardest but most rewarding times in my career.”