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Eye and Ear celebrates milestone 150th anniversary

January 3, 2013

Eye and Ear celebrates milestone 150th anniversary Nurses attending a paediatric patient, 1968
The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital is commemorating 150 years serving the Victorian community this year, with a number of events and activities planned to mark the milestone birthday.

A ceremony at Government House in February will officially open the celebrations, followed by a street party to be held on April 7. The event will be held in Morrison Place, adjacent to the hospital, and include a variety of family entertainment, food and site tours.

The Eye and Ear will also host a series of public lectures, scheduled to run throughout the year. The series will commence early in the year and feature presentations from key hospital staff and partner organisations, including CERA and the University of Melbourne.

Chief Executive Officer Ann Clark said the innovative work undertaken at the Eye and Ear has earned the hospital an international reputation for excellence.

"We are the home of the bionic ear and are now well on the way to becoming the home of the bionic eye, with the successful implant of the first prototype last year," said Ms Clark.

"The 150th anniversary is a significant milestone and an exciting chance to look back and celebrate."

The hospital, the third oldest in Melbourne, treats over a quarter of a million patients each year through outpatient clinics, emergency and specialist eye and ear services compared with just over 2,000 during the 1860s.
Founder Dr Andrew Gray established the hospital in Albert Street, East Melbourne in 1863. Known as the Eye and Ear Infirmary, Dr Gray later told the Royal Commission the infirmary was launched with just “£5 and one bed.

The Infirmary, known as The Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital from 1873, was established in response to a large number of eye and ear diseases Dr Gray encountered in Victoria when he first arrived from Ireland in 1859. This included eye and ear complaints commonly caused by poor living conditions, both among miners capitalising on the gold rush and within the general population.

The anniversary comes as the hospital prepares for major redevelopment works this year, following an announcement in November from Premier Ted Baillieu and Health Minister David Davis confirming full state government funding.