Family’s generous donation to Cowra Hospital

Patients in Cowra Hospital are set to have a more comfortable stay, thanks to the generosity of the Fittler family. 

Siblings Lyn Haley, Robyn Sefiani and Bruce Fittler have donated a special bed to Cowra Hospital in honour of their mother Jean Fittler, who worked as a nurse in 1940’s and 50’s. 

Lyn said the donation was to “commemorate their mother’s life and profession.”

“(Jean) would have thoroughly approved of the donation and we hope that the patients who use it will enjoy its special features,” she said. 

The bed is similar to one Jean used during her stay in Cowra Hospital after breaking her pelvis from a fall. 

“She was given a special bed that had been donated by the Police Citizens’ Golf Day. She was very grateful for the comfort it provided,” Lyn said. 

“Upon discharge from hospital, she wrote to the local police thanking them for donating the bed to the hospital.” 

Jean Fittler (nee Judson) was born in 1923 and grew up at “Orontes”, Bogan Gate and was educated at Ilka Park, Bathurst and Parkes High School. From 1942 – 1945, during World War 2, she was trained as a nurse at Orange Base Hospital. 

“It was very hard work as austerity was the order of the day,” Bruce said. 

“There was no penicillin in those days and if anyone was admitted for pneumonia or a ruptured appendix, they usually died. 

“On Friday nights, the motorbike accidents came in, and most of them died as they did not wear helmets.”

Jean made life-long friends during her training and loved to attend the annual Nurses’ Reunion in Orange. 

After a short stint nursing at Berry Hospital, Jean headed to the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne in 1948 to do her Midwifery training. 

In 1950 she accompanied her father on a trip home to England. She then went to nurse at Allandale Private Hospital in Wellington before marrying Ross Fittler. 

​“She loved her work as a nurse and talked very fondly of her nursing experiences all her life,” Bruce said.

Jean moved to Cowra with her family in 1971 and lived there until her death in 2015, aged 91 years.

“Jean really appreciated that someone had donated funds to buy the comfy bed she had been in, which motivated us to donate the bed and we want to encourage others to donate funds to the hospital as well,” Lyn said.