Meth­ods change but ‘ba­bies are ba­bies’

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART

Mata­mata Plun­ket nurse Fran McKay has been a guid­ing hand for hun­dreds of new moth­ers since start­ing in the sole po­si­tion in 1996.

To­mor­row, she will re­tire af­ter 17 years – the same num­ber of years as her pre­de­ces­sor Bil­lie Adling­ton.

‘‘I feel like it’s time, although I will miss the moth­ers and the ba­bies and the peo­ple,’’ she said.

‘‘I know I have helped a lot of peo­ple and I feel peace­ful leav­ing.’’

Fran trained as a nurse in her na­tive Canada and later gained a mid­wifery qual­i­fi­ca­tion in Bri­tain.

An ad­ven­tur­ous streak led to her work­ing as a nurse prac­ti­tioner in a small Inuit set­tle­ment in the Cana­dian Arc­tic for two years in her mid-20s.

It was a unique ex­pe­ri­ence and she even met a young Prince Charles while he was vis­it­ing the area.

Fran came to New Zealand in 1976, in­tend­ing to stay for a year be­fore join­ing the Fly­ing Doc­tors in Aus­tralia.

But af­ter meet­ing her hus­band Grant, she set­tled in Tau­marunui, work­ing as a mid­wife in the ma­ter­nity ward at the lo­cal hospi­tal.

She en­joyed her work with moth­ers and ba­bies but found the hours try­ing so in 1979 she com­pleted her Plun­ket train­ing.

Two years later, the cou­ple moved to Wa­haroa and Fran stayed at home with their two young sons.

In 1996, she took up the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to Plun­ket, be­com­ing the sole nurse in Mata­mata.

Seven­teen years on, Fran said the best part of her job was learn­ing from moth­ers and pass­ing that knowl­edge on to other moth­ers.

‘‘I’m still learn­ing – as long as you are alive you are learn- ing,’’ she said.

‘‘I don’t think there is any­body that can say they know ev­ery­thing about par­ent­ing.’’

She also en­joyed work­ing along­side the Mata­mata Plun­ket Com­mit­tee.

‘‘I have worked with lots and lots of amaz­ing women over the years – they have been great.’’

Fran has seen a lot of changes in Plun­ket dur­ing the years she has been as­so­ci­ated with the or­gan­i­sa­tion, in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of full government fund­ing.

‘‘Moth­ers have changed too –a lot go back to work ear­lier,’’ she said.

‘‘ And they used to read books to learn about par­ent­ing, now they use the in­ter­net.

‘‘But ba­si­cally, ba­bies are ba­bies.’’

Work­ing in a small town meant it was eas­ier to keep track of chil­dren af­ter they grad­u­ated from Plun­ket care, Fran said.

‘‘You meet moth­ers in the su­per­mar­ket and they stop and tell you about their kids.

‘‘Or you are look­ing through the Chron­i­cle and you see the things they are do­ing now and you think, ‘ I used to weigh you when you were a baby’.’’

End of an era: Plun­ket nurse Fran McKay is re­tir­ing af­ter 17 years in Mata­mata.

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