Celebrating 60 Years of caring for Brisbane’s premature babies

05 October 2023
The Wesley Hospital staff member assisting older lady walking on crutches.

Clinical Nurses Toni Lee Norton and Joanne Southall are both celebrating a combined 60 years of service to The Wesley Hospital’s neonatal special care nursery.

These remarkable nurses shared what they love about their jobs, the special moments that have touched their hearts and what keeps them coming back.

Toni and Jo both possess a wealth of knowledge and skills, each being Registered Nurses, midwives, and qualified neonatal intensive care nurses.

Their specialist competencies have enabled them to tend to thousands of babies born prematurely or unwell over the past three and a half decades.

Toni started her journey at The Wesley Hospital 35 years ago just three months after the nursery was established in January 1988.

“We didn’t have many babies here that first year, so I had to spend time on the ward, but things soon picked up and we are now buzzing with 11 beds,” she said.

Jo began working at The Wesley Hospital 25 years ago in 1998 and said while it’s her job to take care of babies, the families can sometimes need her more.

“We say here that we are nursing the whole family, our role goes beyond simply caring for these tiny infants; we care for the parents and the entire family," she said.

“The moments I love the most are when we get to see our long-term babies go home, happy and healthy to be with their parents.”

Toni said these families are so connected to the nursery they do often return to show the staff who care for them how well they are doing.

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a child who you nursed as a pre-term baby come back walking, talking and starting school,” she said.

Jo agrees, echoing Toni's sentiments.

"Working here is truly a privilege. We consider ourselves fortunate to work in such an incredible setting, where we can make a positive impact on the lives of these vulnerable babies and their families. It's the best job in the world."

Mother, Courtney Fenech has had three children cared for in the unit over the years, her twin girls Ellie and Daisy who were born eight weeks premature in August 2022 and her son Lewis born in 2021.

“I so grateful to have the care all of our children received in the unit, I can’t thank the nursing staff enough for all that they do,” Courtney said.

Toni and Jo's dedication, expertise, and genuine love for their work have undoubtedly contributed to the success and reputation of the neonatal special care unit.

Their incredible service milestones deserve recognition and appreciation, as they continue to inspire and provide exceptional care for our community's youngest members.


Find out more about The Wesley Hospital’s maternity services

Media Enquiries
General: wesley.media@uchealth.com.au
Urgent or after hours: 0412 674 013

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