Lorraine “Molly” Vinall

Nurse Lorraine “Molly” Vinall worked for 40 years at Northfield Wards of the Royal Adelaide Hospitals. She retired in 1981. The article below appeared in an undated Northfield staff newsletter.


I was born in Adelaide and lived in Rankin Road, Torrensville, where I attended St James school until I moved to Colonel Light Gardens. I was subsequently sent to Cabra Convent, where I completed my QC and then on to Adelaide High School until I was 17 years old. I chose a commercial course, my favourite subject was English History.

At the beginning of the war I became a VD and worked voluntarily at the Lady Gorrie Army Hospital, one day a week. We ironed huge damask table cloths, looked after amputees, set tables and such like.

When I was 24 years my parents brought me out to Northfield, left me at the front gates and I have been here happily ever since.

All nurses were issued with three outdoor uniforms with long sleeves and also outdoor caps. We change on the wards into short sleeved indoor uniforms and our indoor caps. Matron Buckland was here at that time.

I commenced duties in Ward A3 and the children were convalescent diphtherias, A5 was the same. Ward A1 had diphtheria patients with tracheostomies. Patients sometimes had their tracheostomy done while still in their beds, although the theatre was in one of the side rooms where CSD is now.

B3 was a mixed ward, mostly mild diphtherias, who stayed for months until their swabs were negative.

I was on night duty during the polio epidemic, the patients stayed here during the infectious stage and were then transferred back to the RAH until they became snowed under and they were transferred back here again until discharged.

C2, C3, B1, B4 were the polio convalescent wards. Treatment was rest and exercising of the limbs by physios. Dr Jelly was a patient here when he was 12 years old. Quite a lot of the patients here with polio were from the country.

Later there was another bigger epidemic and I remember the respirators and more patients needing tracheostomies. We also had babies here with whooping cough, salmonella, meningitis and mumps. Only one staff member contracted polio and she fully recovered and is now a registered nurse.

We didn’t have any hepatitis patients here then.

I worked in the discharge block for quite a number of years, sorting patients belongings; everything had to be fumigated. The discharge block is now the stationery store. During these years I still worked on the wards as well.

During the war we had one ward, B4, full of American soldiers who had scarlet fever, they came here by train from Victoria and several died enroute. A2 and B5 were taken over by the army personnel and had big red crosses painted on the roofs. VAD came to nurse the army patients and some of these also contracted infectious diseases, so our staff looked after all services.

The Morris Wards were also taken over by the army and the patients were POW’s, ours and were nursed by army staff. They took over one of our kitchens with their own army cook. TB patients were sent to C and D wards. D1, 2 and 3 were where the new wards now stand. TB patients were eventually returned to Morris.

CA patients went to Magill, some of the RAH nurses hated to be sent there.

Northfield became part of the RAH about 1949. Most of the staff excepting the porters, lived in, and they slept on the premises when “on call”. Domestics lived in Home A, the cook and even the telephonist lived in.

The head gardener “Mr Thomas” went with the Lay Super to collect the wages and he carried a gun. Nurses received £2.5.00 and paid £1.0.0 a week board.

As the polio patients were discharged the beds were gradually taken over by orthopaedic and geriatric patients.

Ward B5, Northfield Wards, Ca1950

Nurse Lorraine “Molly” Vinall worked for 40 years at Northfield Wards of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. She retired in 1981.  The above article appeared in an undated Northfield staff newsletter.

Nurse Vinall has been at Northfield for 38 years, she is never idle for a moment, as you all know and has hardly ever been off sick. Her various duties during one day could fill a few pages, but here are a few, escorting patients to and from other hospitals, ward work, making up of CSD stock, collecting requisitions, x-rays orders etc daily. She looks after CSD, craft room and Home Sisters office while staff are absent and she knows how to arrange flowers beautifully.

She does not mind changing her day off at the drop of a hat to help out in any area where she is needed. Her main interests are her darling animals, ‘Spotty’ the little 12 month old fox terrier; ‘Little Kit’ a grey and ginger cat and ‘Patches’ a tortershell cat, and her garden which she looks after.

She catches two busses to and from work as her home is at Underdale and gets up VERY early in the morning to be here on time. Nurse Vinall lived in for over 20 years but liked to go home in the evenings and on her days off to be with her parents. Her brother and sister-in-law live in Sydney and her nieces and nephews are scattered around the globe but all keep in touch and area close family group. Vinall and her brother once went on an ocean cruise around the coast from South Australia to Queensland and had a wonderful holiday, but nurse prefers to be an armchair traveller listening to others, watching interesting places on TV and reading.

News Daily, 1981

Written by Margot Way, CALHN Health Museum