From Newcastle Mater Misericordiae Hospital to Calvary Mater Newcastle

A 100 years at the heart of the community

The year 1921 marked the beginning of the Newcastle Mater Misericordiae Hospital and the provision of health care by the Sisters of Mercy (Singleton), for the people of Newcastle.

The Newcastle Mater Misericordiae Hospital was formally opened on 25 March 1922. From its inception the hope of the Sisters of Mercy (Singleton) was to provide health care to all in the community who needed help.

The hospital first operated from a single building known as Enmore Hall situated in Edith St, Waratah, on the Mater’s current site. The grand home however was in need of an operating theatre to allow it to function as a surgical hospital. It was quickly designed and built adjacent to Enmore Hall ready to receive the hospital’s first patient on 8 December 1921. Consequently, here began the work of the five foundation Sisters of Mercy (Singleton), who embraced the challenge of establishing a hospital in the expanding town of Newcastle.

Its subsequent growth was in response to the burgeoning development of BHP and associated heavy industry locally, as well as the accompanying suburbs to house the huge workforce,  “1928 was a particularly busy year, and we began to realise that the seed planted in 1921 was rapidly developing” (as stated in The Chronicles of the Mater). A bigger hospital was needed. By 1935 the new 92-bed hospital was opened “The magnificent institution stood out on the landscape, an eloquent witness to the self-sacrificing labours and arduous toil of those who had given themselves to the cause of suffering humanity” (Dr S Gardiner speech at the opening of the new hospital in 1935). This building stood for 70 years.

By now, the Mater was a substantial provider of much needed health care in Newcastle and in 1935 the hospital became part of the public health care system, whilst retaining its Catholic presence. A loyalty developed which persisted for the 85 years the hospital served under the guidance of the Sisters of Mercy.

A hundred years later the Mater has experienced extraordinary development. Of particular note is the transfer of ownership in 2007 from the Sisters of Mercy (Singleton) to Little Company of Mary Health Care. The most public symbol of a new beginning for the hospital was the change of name to Calvary Mater Newcastle.

During this time the hospital was undergoing a major rebuild under a Public Private Partnership and on 7 August 2009, the new hospital was officially opened. The transition to Calvary Mater Newcastle was complete.

Nowadays the Mater (as it’s lovingly referred to by locals) provides specialist medical care in a range of cancer services, palliative care, and toxicology. As well as serving the local community through its critical care, medical and surgical services.

Calvary Mater Newcastle is recognised as a leading research centre. It is also the main centre for cancer clinical trials in the Hunter region, with local, national and international research collaborations taking place.