Palmerston North Hospital

Palmerston North Hospital is the main public hospital in Palmerston North, New Zealand. The hospital is located at the northern end of Ruahine Street, 2 km (1.2 mi) northeast of The Square. It is the main hospital run by the MidCentral District Health Board, which primarily serves Palmerston North and the surrounding Manawatu, Tararua and Horowhenua districts.

Palmerston North Hospital
MidCentral District Health Board
Palmerston North Hospital.jpg
Palmerston North Hospital main building, May 2020
LocationPalmerston North, Manawatū-Whanganui, New Zealand
Coordinates40°20′19″S 175°37′13″E / 40.3387°S 175.6203°E / -40.3387; 175.6203Coordinates: 40°20′19″S 175°37′13″E / 40.3387°S 175.6203°E / -40.3387; 175.6203
FundingPublic hospital
Emergency departmentYes
WebsiteOfficial website
ListsHospitals in New Zealand

The hospital has 354 inpatient beds as of 2020.[1] The hospital is a major trauma centre, one of four in the lower North Island alongside Hawke's Bay Hospital, Whanganui Hospital and Wellington Regional Hospital.[2]


The hospital first opened on 27 November 1893 with 25 inpatient beds across four wards, and was staffed by two doctors and three nurses.[3] Ellen Dougherty was the hospital's first matron; on 10 January 1902, she became the world's first registered nurse after the New Zealand Parliament passed the Nurses Registration Act 1901.[4][5][6]

In 1968, a 20-year-old male died during an operation at the hospital in New Zealand's first recorded case of malignant hyperthermia (MH), a genetic disorder which causes a severe reaction in susceptible person when exposed to certain anaesthetic agents. It was subsequently discovered the deceased man was part of a large family based in the Manawatū region that had carried the gene for many generations. As a result, around one in every 200 surgeries at Palmerston North Hospital involves a MH-susceptible patient, compared to between 1:10,000 and 1:250,000 worldwide. New Zealand's first (and only) MH testing centre was set up at Massey University in 1978, and was taken over the hospital's anaesthetic department in 1986.[7][8][9]


  1. ^ "Palmerston North Hospital". Ministry of Health NZ. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  2. ^ "New Zealand Out-of-Hospital Major Trauma Destination Policy -- Lower North Island Area" (PDF). National Trauma Network/Te Hononga Whētuki ā-Motu. February 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Palmerston North Hospital celebrates 125 years". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  4. ^ "Palmerston North Hospital 125th Anniversary". Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  5. ^ "World's first state-registered nurses | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  6. ^ Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Dougherty, Ellen". Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  7. ^ "Malignant Hyperthermia Background". Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  8. ^ "The gene, the whaler, and 20 years of research - Massey University". Massey University. Retrieved 2020-09-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Collins, Simon (2017-10-09). "Baby's parents' warning: Anaesthetic triggered extreme reaction". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2020-09-25.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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