Nurse on duty

Maitland Hospital nurse Marianne Wowk always knew she simply wanted to care for people.

When you go to hospital you expect and hope for the best care. It’s hopefully a once-ina- lifetime experience for you. But for those on the other side of your chance meeting, offering care is their daily job. For Maitland Hospital nurse, Marianne Wowk, providing the best care to patients and their families is something she has been doing now for more than 50 years. Marianne’s family emigrated to Australia from the Ukraine in 1948 when she was just two years old.

They were settled in the Greta migrant camp, where Marianne’s second and youngest sister was born. “We were displaced people after the war, and my parents had to choose, Canada or Australia, and they chose here,” says Marianne thoughtfully. “After some time, we were given some land and Dad built our house there, and he worked at the Burlington Cotton Mill in Rutherford. “Mum looked after us children, the chickens and our house cow – using the milk to make cheeses, butter and cream. “She also tended the garden, she had a wonderful green thumb and people always came to buy her vegetables, her garden was just beautiful.” Marianne went to school in Greta, where she began to learn English for the first time. “There were lots of kids like me there, who had recently come from Europe, and lots of families in our street came out with us, so at home we all still spoke Ukranian, Dad learned English at work, but Mum not really, because she was mostly at home,” says Marianne.

“I then went onto secondary school at Monte Pio in Maitland and would walk past the old hospital everyday dreaming of helping the people inside, and that’s where it all started. “I knew from then on that’s where I wanted to be – caring for people.” On completing school, Marianne went straight into realising that dream. She started as a ward cadet at Maitland Hospital in 1963, before commencing her four-year nursing training in 1964. “It was so different back then, we did all our training on the wards with our educators, there were no university degrees. It was completely practical based learning really, every day was something different.” remembers Marianne.

Read more about Marianne Wowk’s story in the Spring issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine. Available in newsagencies or subscribe here and never miss an issue.
Story Penny Evans, photographs courtesy of Marianne Wowk.