Newspaper Article 1962 – Sister Leipst returns from South Korea

Sister Leipst returns from South Korea

Sister E. I. Leipst recently returned to Hastings after two years in South Korea. She was attached to the Masan Hospital where she worked with English and Australian nurses.

She also did much district nursing, visiting the villages to treat and follow up discharged patients, or out patients.

In a Land-Rover presented to her by New Zealand, and with a driver and interpreter, she visited many places setting up a mobile clinic.

Many of the villagers had never had any kind of medical attention before, and living conditions were appalling.

Families lived in mud huts and there was little or no sanitation. In one instance 10 families were living under a bridge.

Sister Leipst recalls one premature baby which weighed no more than 2 1/2lb and who had been left in the middle of the floor of one of these huts. The rain was pouring through the holes in the roof and the child was in a puddle of water, yet it survived.

It was evident to Sister Leipst that there was a tremendous need for educating the mothers to look after their children, especially in the first two years of life.

During this first 18 months, Sister Leipst took on a young Korean nurse, whom she trained in out-patients, home visiting and baby care.

[…] clinic. A large Korean house in one of the poor areas of Masan was taken over, and 2000 homes were visited.

Before the clinic could be started the house had to be repainted, repaired and cleaned. Equipment was purchased by Sister Leipst when she was in Japan on leave. Cots were made from packing cases.

The first week or so was devoted to enrolling babies, and from the area 800 babies were entered on the books. Sick babies were taken into the clinic and others were brought by the mothers for examination, immunisation and a general check-up.

A feeding centre was formed where the mothers each learned how feeding formula were made up.


Each of the 2000 homes was visited by the nurses where living conditions could be observed and advice and help given.

Sister Leipst said the work was very rewarding, yet there was the frustrated feeling that it was but a drop in a bucket.

Sister Leipst also visited the Young Shin Orphanage in Masan which shelters deserted and sick children, and were [where] there is great need for medical care. She also visited the beggar boys’ home which is a few miles out of Pusan.

This home has 220 boys, 20 girls and about 140 adults who cannot care for themselves.

The home comprises eight houses made from concrete blocks.

Children from Hawke’s Bay schools are sponsoring this home through the Save the Children Fund. The money is raised by the children themselves through their own efforts.

Before Sister Leipst returned to New Zealand she organised a field day at the infant welfare clinic. Sister Leipst said they were impressed with the work which had been done and, apart from anything else, with the cleanliness of the place.

Baby clinic

Sister Leipst has left the baby clinic under the charge of Miss Yoon, her Korean nurse, and the interpreter from her district has taken over the visiting of the villages.

The return to New Zealand was a slow one for Sister Leipst as she stopped at many places in the East seeing what welfare work was being done. The work in Hongkong was impressive, she said.

While in Korea Sister Leipst contracted a tropical disease, and was forced to spend a month in Melbourne before finishing her journey.

Sister Leipst was born in Hastings and trained as a nurse at the Memorial Hospital, Hastings, commencing in 1939.

She later did her maternity training at Gisborne and then went to the Stratford Hospital.


In Dunedin she carried out her Plunket training. After doing infant welfare work at Gisborne she returned to Hastings for 3 1/2 years as a Plunket nurse.

In January 1950, she went to England and spent four years there and in the Shetland Islands, and one year in Palestine.

On her return to Hastings she joined the staff of the Memorial Hospital and spent 5 1/2 years there before leaving for Korea.

Sister Leipst will return to the Hastings Memorial Hospital.

Photo caption – Sister Leipst with one of her small charges at the Masan Hospital, Korea.

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