Senior Medical Staff 1925 - 1980

Dr P P Lynch was the first full-time Pathologist, appointed in 1925. He bought Dr Hector's private pathology practice in 1932, but remained part-time Head of Pathology at the Hospital until 1936.

Dr J O Mercer was appointed as assistant to P P Lynch in 1928, and virtually succeeded him in 1936 when Lynch became part-time. Dr J D Reid joined Jo Mercer in 1950, but left in 1964 for Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr P C Cairney worked in the department 1958 - 1972, and after Dave Reid's departure, she was in charge of histopathology. Dr Judith Wardill assisted Pat Cairney from 1970, and another histopathologist, Dr C M Bevan, who had come from Australia, worked there briefly 1972 - 1973. When Judith Wardill left in 1974 (to take a post at Waikato Hospital), Wellington Hospital was without the services of a senior Histopathologist.

This deficiency was covered by visiting pathologists from local private laboratories - Drs F B Desmond, J T O'Brien, W S Alexander and W L Kenealy.

Dr Malcolm McKellar was appointed Haematologist and Transfusion Officer in 1958. He handed over transfusion work to Dr Ray Fong in 1969, and clinical haematology to Dr Gerard Green in 1972. Malcolm McKellar became Director of Pathology in 1970, with a change of title to Director of Laboratory Services in 1975.

In 1965, Dr Peter Dennis was appointed Chemical Pathologist. When he left for Melbourne in 1970, the Board were unable to fill the vacancy, so Dr Fred Desmond filled in part-time.

The first Medical Microbiologist was Dr J D Manning, appointed in 1970.

In 1981, Dr Raj Gupta was appointed as the first Cytopathologist. The Board's first Cytogeneticist was Dr Helen McCreanor, appointed in 1966. After her death in 1979, Dr Cyril Chapman was appointed in that role in 1980.

Accommodation 1913 - 1980

Principle source: "Pathology in Wellington : Public & National Health, Hospital, Academic and Private : 1891 - 1994" by D T Stewart, 1994

- courtesy The Royal Australasian College of Pathologists


In the early part of the 20th century, any laboratory work required was done at the Government Laboratory in Sydney Street, administered by the Health Department. By 1912, this laboratory no longer met requirements, and a new Laboratory was established on the upper floor of a new building erected on the Hospital grounds. The ground floor of this building was used as a new Outpatient Department, run by the Hospital Board. The Laboratory, however, was under the control of the Health Department, and run by Mr Hurley. He was a self-trained bacteriologist who had spent two years as a medical student in Ireland before leaving the course to pursue his chosen vocation. The visiting Government Pathologist was Dr Hector who reported on any histopathology required. Any autopsies required were carried out by a house surgeon.

In 1928 the pathology department took over the whole top floor and retained this space until 1980. In 1952 a small adjacent ward was taken over for blood donations, previously done in operating theatres. The next addition was the upper floor of the "Matron's Block" to house biochemistry, with cytology occupying the vacated space.

In 1966 the new Seddon Block provided 2250 sq ft in the ground floor for haematology and microbiology work generated in this block, with small respiratory and renal laboratories. In 1967 800 sq ft between the laboratory block and the biochemistry laboratory was used for a tutorial laboratory, but when training was taken over by the Polytechnic, this space was used (1970) for the Medical Microbiologist and for cytogenetics.

In 1969 the spacious animal house was no longer needed and became largely specialist haematology and serology laboratories, with further space for haematology in 1976.

In 1943 the wooden mortuary was replaced, including a histopathology processing laboratory. The laboratory had various moves until it and the mortuary gained new premises in the 1980 Clinical Services Block. In 1976, pending the closure of the Wellington City Mortuary, major alterations had been carried out (at minimal cost) to provide combined Hospital and City facilities.

Towards the end of 1975 the laboratory administration, with patient reception and venesection, moved into a pre-fabricated building of 1200 sq ft constructed on top of the hospital's cobalt unit.

In 1978 Chemical Pathology took over the Nuclear Medicine Department's radiochemistry laboratory which was located in the vacated female VD clinic. The hospital's Respiratory Physiology Laboratory in the Seddon Laboratory area had earlier joined the Department of Laboratory Services.

Following the appointment of an Immunohaematologist in 1970 and with an increased demand for blood products and the need to expand facilities for tissue typing, enlarged custom-built facilities were required.

The top floor of the old Alexandra Maternity Hospital became available and this 3600 sq ft was gutted and refurbished to house the Blood Donor Services, the blood bank and tissue typing laboratories.

The vacated ward 10A area enabled the reuniting there of the main laboratory haematology and Seddon haematology area, and in turn the vacated old main laboratory was taken over by the main and Seddon microbiology services. In 1976 this expanded microbiology area was relocated into the 5000 sq ft vacated by the senior nursing school.

Increasing work in immunohaematology resulted (in 1978) in the Board renting 2200 sq ft of space in Siltex House on the opposite side of the road from the Donor Service in the Alexandra Hospital. In 1982 a review of blood transfusion services in New Zealand found the Wellington laboratory substandard and in need of upgrading. The City Council classified Siltex House as an earthquake risk. The cost of substantial strengthening was to cost $1.5 million, to be partly funded by the Department of Health. Dr Fong wrote to the Board suggesting rather that a purpose designed building be erected as a permanent home for the Wellington Regional Service. The Board took three years to accept the proposal and two years to decide on a site. Planning started in 1987 and the building was finished in 1990 at a cost of $5.4 million.

A cross-match laboratory is still retained in the Clinical Services Block, near the operating theatres.

During the planning and completion (1980) of the Clinical Services Block, in which the Laboratory Services has 30,600 sq ft, the need to expand and update facilities in the existing Department tailed off. Some work was shared with Hutt Hospital, but in the late 1970s planning continued for:

(1) the eventual relocation in new premises in the Ward Support Block of the Radiochemistry, Renal, Toxicology and Immunology laboratories,

(2) the setting up of a Virology laboratory in the Ward Support Block, and

(3) the development of a satellite laboratory in the new Kenepuru Hospital.







Last updated 29 October 2016.