Methods change but ‘babies are babies’
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.