Doctors Frank Oliver Stokes and Allen Muscio opened the Mayo Private Hospital in Taree with the first patients being treated in January 1921.1 It was initially an eight bed facility on the corner of Manning and Wynter Streets, now occupied by the burger chain Hungry Jacks (2021).2 The first matron was Laura Nixon who with her staff moved from Beltana Hospital in Macquarie Street, Taree to operate the Mayo.3 The hospital was a brick building with a long verandah at the back.
Current “Friends of Mayo” President Anne Whatson remembers she had her tonsils out at the old Mayo. She said “the verandah doubled as patient cubicles with blinds that came down at night. During winter the cold air would seep up through the drafty floors.” Anne has been a volunteer at the Mayo for over 24 years since the hospital relocated to Kolodong in 1997. She was on the first roster and has been on it ever since.4
Lea Young has also been a volunteer at the Mayo for the past 18 years. Her sisters, one of whom was a nurse, worked there and suggested she might enjoy volunteering. Lea remembers when the old Mayo Hospital was demolished she rescued the timeworn curtains to make costumes for a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar.5 Bricks from the old Mayo were also saved and are now part of a heritage display in front of the hospital.6
One hundred years later the small hospital has grown to become a specialist 79 bed medical, rehabilitation and mental health hospital helping the wider Taree community.7
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/174345989 and https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/174348210; Northern Champion, 2 February 1921, 2 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/158368627
2 MidCoast Stories Taree Historic Rate Books 1920-1950, https://midcoaststories.com/taree-rates-books-3/
3 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/174345989
4 Oral interview with Anne Whatson, Wingham, 23 July 2021; Manning River Times, 4 April 2014, https://www.manningrivertimes.com.au/story/2197663/new-history-wall-at-mayo-honours-founders/
5 Oral interview with Lea Young, Kolodong, 6 August 2021.
6 Heritage display panels outside the Mayo Hospital, Kolodong.
7 Mayo Private Hospital, viewed on 9 August 2021, https://mayoprivate.com.au/about/our-hospital