Under the guidance of the Sisters of Mercy the Mater Hospital has become a Sydney institution synonymous with outstanding healthcare as well as providing outreach and support to the community's most marginalised. The Mater Hospital has provided excellence in care for over 105 years, however, the hospital's story dates back to 1831 when the Sisters of Mercy were founded, in Dublin Ireland, by Catherine McAuley.
With the help of a group of like-minded women, Catherine McAuley used her considerable inheritance to open the first House of Mercy in Dublin to serve the needs of destitute women and children.
The women soon formed a new order and the first Sisters of Mercy were professed. From the outset, nursing formed a core part of the Mercy mission.
During the Crimean War, Sisters of Mercy from convents in Ireland and England volunteered to nurse the English army. Here they worked alongside Florence Nightingale and served with the Sisters of Charity.
Sisters of Mercy from Liverpool, England arrived in Australia.
The Sisters of Mercy opened a convent at Monte Sant' Angelo, North Sydney, and established this as the head house of the congregation.
Responding to a request from Cardinal Moran, the Sisters of Mercy purchased the vacated Royal North Shore district hospital and opened the Mater Misericordiae Hospital for Women and Children. The hospital had 12 beds and 12 cots.
The hospital provided assistance for anyone who needed medical or nursing aid irrespective of their religious beliefs.
Due to the rising demand for hospital accommodation, the Sisters purchased a property on Lane Cove Road, North Sydney.
Following renovations, the property was opened as a 25-bed hospital for men and women. The private hospital was a means of supplementing the charitable activity of the public hospital.
With a steady income from the private hospital, the general hospital was relocated up the Pacific Highway and adjacent to the private hospital. The new hospital housed 63 beds and served men, women and children.
Between 1925 and 1936 both hospitals were considerably expanded to meet the increased demand for care and accommodate changes in medical practice.
A maternity hospital was established, opposite the general hospital, on Rocklands Road. From 1941 until the closure of the maternity hospital in 1982 about 70,000 babies were born.
The Mater established and operated community service projects, including the Home Care Service and Meals on Wheels. The hospital also became renowned for its work in haemodialysis.
Due to government funding increases, the Mater changed from being a Catholic community hospital to a public institution.
In response to increased demand for certified nursing staff, the Mater became affiliated with the University of Sydney.
A Renal dialysis unit, funded by the Fairfax Foundation, was added.
Due to the withdrawal of government funding, amongst other things, the Mater General Hospital was forced to close. Services and facilities were moved to nearby hospitals, including the Mater Private Hospital.
The Sisters of Mercy merged the Mater Hospital with the St Vincent's Private and Public Hospitals, Darlinghurst. The merged entities are now St Vincents & Mater Health Sydney Limited.
New life was given to one of Sydney's best maternity units with refurbishment of the delivery suites and ward.
Upgrading of the Intensive Care Unit, construction of patient rooms and an additional operating suite catered for the care of an increased number of seriously ill patients and surgical patients.
In partnership with Fresenius Medical Care, the Mater expands capacity from 10 chairs to 16 in a new renal dialysis unit located a short walk from the hospital.
Bed numbers expand with the opening of a 14-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit, known as the JM Agnew Wing. The new wing recognises the inspirational work of Sr Josephine Mary Agnew.
The Mater is transformed to a campus with opening of the Mater Clinic. The two-storey clinic, located on Gillies Street, includes orthopaedic, obstetric and cardiology consulting suites, three day surgical theatres, two research areas and pathology services.
The Poche Centre, incorporating Melanoma Institute Australia, is established at the Mater Hospital. Aptly named in recognition of Mr Greg Poche AO, the centre signals a new era in Australia's ability to progress research, education and treatment of melanoma.