She’s not so retiring
Community nurse hangs up stethoscope but not her drive
LYN Heaton will continue her community involvement even though she is retiring, but she hopes she will also have time to pick up a golf club again.
Born in Gayndah, Mrs Heaton’s primary education was at Wetheron State School followed by high school in Gayndah.
She started her nursing career as an assistant nurse in Gayndah under Matron Alison Shelly and Dr Pike.
“After a year, and old enough to advance my nursing career, I started four years of general training in Bundaberg,” she said.
“On completion of training I married Leo, continued on with my nursing as a registered nurse at St Andrews in Rockhampton, Childers, Gayndah, Murgon, Wondai and St George.
“I found that I also needed my midwifery and child health nursing so, along with having three children, completed these certificates.”
The Heatons lived in Goomeri for a few of years where they had a butcher shop. On selling they decided to go west where they worked at Tambo and Morven.
Mrs Heaton was the director of nursing at these clinics.
Leo was gardener and QAS driver and first aid person.
“We spent five years at each clinic, Tambo being the old hospital at that time and similar to what our old Biggenden Hospital was.
“After returning from the west, I returned to Gayndah Hospital and then we moved down to Biggenden in 1990,” Mrs Heaton said.
“At the time we owned a farm in the Goodnight on the Perry River.
“I thought I was here to stay, having the community interest at heart, and actually being nominated for the senior Australia Day award, but in 2007 decided to have a break from our Biggenden Hospital.
“I went to do six months relief in the Diamantina, at the Bedourie Health Clinic but this turned into five years.
“Bedourie brought some exciting new challenges.
“Although we were on the edge of the Simpson Desert, it rained quite a lot and a few times we were isolated by road for up to three months at a time.”
During these times patients were airlifted or taken by boat into the clinic.
“It amazed me how the SES could find their way among the endless sand dunes as when surrounded by water they all looked the same.”
The RFDS visited the clinic every two weeks and were a welcome sight, along with Allied Health every three weeks and varied specialist every three to six months.
“Our RFDS was based in Mt Isa and flew in for retrievals as needed,” she said.
Part of her clinic duty was to man the QAS which included an old diesel Toyota which Lyn had to learn to service.
“I had the diesel freeze twice but luckily I didn’t have to change a tyre,” Mrs Heaton said.
“The winter days in the desert are lovely but the temperature drops down during the night.
“I also relieved at the Birdsville and McKinlay clinics.
“It was exciting relieving at Birdsville, especially when its famous races were on.
“The town went from 80 people to 8000, but we had to work 12-hour shifts over those four days.”
Mrs Heaton returned to Biggenden in time for the big move from the old hospital to the new facility to become the community nurse.
“Eighteen months down the track I have made the decision to retire, but Biggenden will remain home,” she said.
“Leo and I will do some tripping about, catching up family and with friends we have made in the different towns we have worked and to visit his relatives inWestern Australia.”
READY FOR RETIREMENT: Lyn Heaton is looking forward to catching up with family after she retires as community nurse.