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Kenny, Elizabeth

Born: 1880 AD
Died: 1952 AD
Nationality: Australian
Categories: Nurses

1880 – She was born on the 20th day of September of this year at Kelly’s Gully, a hamlet a few kilometers west of the village of Warialda, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Her mother, Mary Moore, was the granddaughter of James Moore, who was transported to Australia in 1828.


1894 – At 14, she fell from a horse and broke her wrist. Her father took her to Dr. Aeneas McDonnell in Toowoomba where she was cared for during her convalescence. While there, she studied McDonnell’s anatomy books and model skeleton. That began a life long association with McDonnell, who became her mentor and advisor.


1907 – She returned to Guyra to live with a cousin. While there, she may have received some basic nursing training from a local midwife, and the local physician. She also brokered agriculturul sales between Guyra farmers and markets to the north in Brisbane.


1911 – She returned to Nobby and began working as an unofficial Bush Nurse. Soon, using the money she earned by brokering potatoes, she opened a cottage hospital in Clifton, a village a few miles from Nobby, where she treated her first cases of polio.


1917 – She earned the title of Sister, which in the Australian Army Nurse Corps is the equivalent of a First Lieutenant. She used that title for the rest of her life.


1919 – Even though worn out by her war service she supervised a temporary hospital in Nobby, which was set up to care for victims of the 1919 influenza epidemic.


1933 – Several local people helped Kenny set up a basic polio treatment facility under canopies behind the Queens Hotel in Townsville. In a few months, after more success with local children, she was able to move into the bottom floor of the hotel.


1934 – The Queensland health department began an evaluation of her work which led to the establishment of her clinics in several cities in Australia. Her success, however, was not without controversy, as many doctors, and the Australian Massage Association questioned her work and success.


1935 – Between this year and 1940, she traveled extensively throughout Australia helping to set up clinics. She also made two trips to England where she set up a treatment clinic in St. Mary’s hospital near Carshalton where there is a rehabilitation facility to this day.


1937 – She published a basic book about her work and began another, The Treatment of Infantile Paralysis in The Acute Stage, which was later published in America.


1940 – The Government of New South Wales sent Kenny and her adopted daughter Mary (who had become an expert in Kenny’s method), to America so that they could present her clinical method for treating polio victims to American doctors.


1951 – She filled her final years with journeys in America, to Europe and to Australia in an effort to gain further acceptance of her method. She returned home to Toowoomba in this year.


1952 – She died of complications from Parkinson’s disease on the 30th day of November this year. She was buried beside her mother in Nobby cemetery.


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