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Margaret Cross: A lifetime of nursing leads to a bequest for Burnet

  • 03 May 2023

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” Margaret said.

“I date it back to one of my earliest memories. I was just a young girl, and walking in Ararat I saw polio patients being wheeled out on stretcher beds to get some sunshine, and young people in calipers. Seeing these people made me feel very sad and concerned.”

Margaret did her nursing training in the 1950s at Ararat and District Hospital, and began working at the Ararat Hospital.

“On my first day as a nurse I was allocated to look after patients with TB out on the balconies, where the clean cold air was thought to do them good.

“I worked in the Children’s Ward, nursing kids with whooping cough, in steam tents, and children with fatal complications from measles.

“One thing I remember, thinking back to those early days, is how many infectious diseases we had to deal with that are simply not as much of an issue in Australia these days, or how treatments of these diseases have changed so much.”

Later in her nursing career Margaret became aware of the HIV/AIDS epidemic through her son-in-law, Barry Janes, who was President of the AIDS Council. Margaret was aware of the many people who were dying of this illness, and the cruel deaths they experienced.

It was at this point that Margaret began supporting Burnet Institute, at the time still known as Fairfield Hospital, one of the primary centres for patient care, diagnostic services, public health research into HIV and AIDS in Australia.

Burnet has proudly continued this HIV focus to the present day, and Margaret has been supporting HIV research and public health projects at Burnet all along.

After many years of generous support, Margaret, now retired from nursing, made a bequest to Burnet.

“As a nurse, infectious diseases have always been a part of my life. I have seen great suffering and pain, but also great strides made in prevention and treatment, in equity and understanding. It makes sense to me that my money will continue being put to good use by Burnet Institute in infectious disease research and programs after I’m gone.”