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During COVID-19, it's time to remember three nurses who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Spanish flu.

Alice Wyeth. Clara Popple. Hannah Dufton.

Let us never forget their names or bravery, or the bravery of our healthcare workers.

The COVID 19 pandemic provides a stark reminder of the risk healthcare workers have always faced as they carry out their lifesaving work. 

Back in 1919, the deadly Spanish Flu arrived in Brisbane with soldiers returning from the cold and muddy trenches of World War 1.  Invaluable antibiotics, which could have prevented unnecessary deaths from secondary infections, were still 13 years away. 

Among more than 1000 local deaths were three young nurses from Brisbane Hospital – now known as the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH). Their names were Alice Wyeth, Clara Popple, and Hannah Dufton. 

Hannah is buried in Toowong cemetery and her grave is unmarked. Both Clara and Alice are buried in the South Brisbane cemetery and their grave sites are sadly in disrepair. 

In this International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, please show your support so we can restore their gravestones and create a hospital-based bronze memorial to honour them, and our current and future nurses and midwives. 

Metro North Hospital and Health Service (MNHHS) Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Alanna Geary, and RBWH Infectious Diseases Director, Dr Krispin Hajkowicz, are leading the fundraising committee for this important memorial. 

A gift in memory of popular Brisbane General Hospital (now RBWH) Sister-in-charge-of-theatres Mercia Lillian Geater, who served from 1938-1983, has greatly assisted the fund but more donations are urgently required.  

The vision is a memorial where RBWH can reflect not only on the sacrifice and bravery of these three nurses, but all nurses and midwives who have lost their lives while working on the healthcare frontline. 

Once the memorial target has been reached, additional funding will be donated to the Joan Webster Metro North Nursing and Midwifery Research Fund. 

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