Jean Nissen-Wiis of Kenmore has had a connection with Spring Hill’s St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital for more than 65 years.
Her lifetime association with the hospital began on 14 May 1949 when among a 3000-strong crowd on vacant land in Herston, she witnessed the laying of the hospital’s foundation stone.
After years of work in the corporate world, Jean felt a strong desire to give back to the community, which motivated her to volunteer at St Andrew’s in the early 90s.
“I mostly took patients to their b
eds after they had been admitted or I helped take them down from admissions to day surgery,” Mrs Nissen-Wiis said.
“The patients were lovely to chat to and I enjoyed putting them at ease.
“The staff appreciated our (the volunteers) help very much. Especially when we assisted in taking essential paperwork from one ward to another ward.”
Jean is proud to have had links with the hospital’s origins and to have had the opportunity to be part of the “St Andrew’s family” through 22 years of volunteer service.
In March 2015, during a volunteer shift at the hospital, Jean experienced her own personal health crisis.
“As I leant down to get my bag I felt this awful pain in my chest and I was in terrible agony,” she said.
Jean, 87, had collapsed from a thoracic aortic aneurysm, a ballooning of a section of the heart’s aorta within the chest.
She suffered a large aneurysm that lead to a rupture and damage of the aortic wall – a condition that can lead to death by internal bleeding.
Jean was immediately attended to by St Andrew’s emergency centre and was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU). She now reflects on how volunteering at the hospital ensured she was in the right place at the right time.
“I don’t remember much about it. My daughter came up here to stay with Frank (her husband)," Jean said.
“I was in ICU for a while and they put me to sleep for 48 hours.
“I keep thinking if I had the aneurysm while driving… would I still be here.
“St Andrew’s saved my life…. I would like to thank the doctors, they are wonderful.”
Jean is recovering at home after her procedures at St Andrew’s in 2015 and would love to one day return to volunteering at the hospital.
Jean is still very much a part of the hospital family who are keen to see her smiling face on her return.
As a not-for-profit hospital, St Andrew’s ensures it stays at the cutting edge of medical advancement for the community.
Learn more about St Andrew’s at http://standrewshospital.com.au/