When the heady smell of molasses is in the wind at Sarina, the hospital’s Director of Nursing (DON) Pauline Maude breathes deeply and feels she is where she’s meant to be.
“As a child I lived in Fiji,” Pauline said.
“Dad was an engineer in the sugar mills there, and that’s why I love Sarina, because it feels like coming home.
“We used to walk through all the sugar mills with Mom and Dad, and when you walk out the door here and you get that smell of the mill, it generates some really good feelings for me.”
Pauline moved to Sarina to take up the position of DON in February 2021, attracted by the prospect of a new hospital build.
It was the next adventure for the self-confessed nomad who has worked across three states during a nursing career filled with connections and adventures.
“I’ve been a nomad my whole life,” Pauline said.
“But I was born in Brisbane, so I have always claimed to be a Queenslander.”
She completed her hospital-based nursing training in Sydney, spending time at both Parramatta and Westmead Hospitals, and completing midwifery training at Blacktown. She later went on to cement her love of midwifery in the city while spending many years working in Baulkham Hills.
As the years unfolded and the family of Pauline and Kevin grew, their moves on a map took them north and south and north again.
Connections established pointed the way to the next adventure and there were battles won and lost.
“We worked in Stanthorpe because my parents had retired there,” Pauline said.
“We also spent many years in Maryborough, where I worked on establishing birthing services at a private hospital – St Stephens.”
She fondly recalls boarding the ‘Chunda Bucket Express’ which travelled from Cairns to Brisbane to challenge a claim that ‘all nurses do is empty chunder buckets and pans’.
“We were pushing for better pay and conditions at the time,” she said.
She also spent time working in jails at both Maryborough and Townsville.
“I set up the health service at Maryborough Jail but then did a little sojourn in Townsville where I was asked to take on a role as HR manager for the jail,” Pauline said.
“We did a bit of organisational change, and then I went back to being a nurse again.”
Pauline was also the DON at Bowen Hospital through its transition from the Townsville health district to Mackay and she experienced some of the challenges involved with the implementation of health reforms at that time.
“When the kids finished school, we were ready for the next adventure,” she said.
“Kevin was working out at Julia Creek by that time so that was another reason for moving north.
“A friend in Townsville was looking out for jobs in North Queensland for me.
“Then another connection, who was from Ayr but was working in Maryborough, gave me a lot of information about the Bowen community and the Bowen Hospital.
“So I applied, and Kev promised me a new motorbike if I got the DON position in Bowen.
“I got the job, and the bike, and we moved there in September 2008.
“I love Bowen. We still have a house there and I get up there most weekends.”
Another adventure took Pauline to Nhulunbuy for an 18-month stint as the DON of the Gove Hospital.
“That was interesting and challenging,” Pauline said.
“We had Health and Hospitals (HHF) funding to decant three buildings into two, and then build an emergency department, administration and outpatients building.
“But though I was in charge of the hospital, we are really only visitors in that East Arnhem land domain. It’s not our place; we’re just visiting.”
This extensive and varied experience eventually brought Pauline to the town and the project where she is now focusing all her attention.
“When COVID hit, Kevin and I were working in different parts of the state, and we weren’t allowed to travel more than 50 km,” she said.
“I was in Stanthorpe and he was in Bowen.
“And Sarina came up. I had never considered Sarina but I love it. And I upgraded the motor bike!
“It’s a lovely community, and so welcoming.
“This is a nice country hospital with very experienced staff, so the patients get excellent clinical care.”
The prospect of immersing herself in a building project sealed the deal.
“The drawcard for me was the hospital build,” Pauline said.
“I’d been involved in designing some facilities, and the decanting of another and setting up birthing services and a prison health service.
“So, I’ve done bits, but I had never been there for the whole process.”