Lost for Words

The tragic case of Sakurako Uehara, the 7-year-old Japanese girl who is in our care after being mauled by four dogs, has touched all of us. As the events of the last two weeks have unfolded, I have often found myself stopping to reflect on what this turn of events means for young Sakurako and her family. I know from conversations with many staff how much she is also in your thoughts at this time.

Immediately after Sakurako’s arrival at Middlemore, we had intense press interest in the case which resulted in a series of media interviews with our Plastic Surgeon, Zac Moaveni, Intensivist, David Galler, and Head of our Plastics Department, John Kenealy. As I listened to these three speak about the work of the teams who are looking after Sakurako, I felt incredibly humbled by the gentleness and compassion displayed by our truly extraordinary staff.

In many respects, I can’t actually find the words to fully describe what I feel in response to the professionalism and enormous sense of caring that staff are showing for Sakurako, for her family and for each other at the moment. I can only liken it to other experiences in which I’m also lost for words – when I hear a piece of music which touches me or when I see a beautiful scene in the countryside. They are moments which serve to remind me to just slow down and be grateful.

So today I’m doing just that and feeling deeply grateful that in our world there are people with the skill, the compassion and the humanity to look after a young, vulnerable child in the most extreme circumstances. To me, these qualities are the measure of true greatness and I have nothing but complete admiration for you all.

Thank you.



Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

One thought on “Lost for Words”

  1. I I would like to thank the CEO Geraint Martin for his inspiring words in the article ‘lost for words’. I have a Japanese friend who teaches Japanese in a tiny catholic school in Murapara where the young Japanese girl was attacked so I have made a copy of the article to send to her in Murapara. A big thank you too to the brilliant surgeons and staff who have operated and cared for the young girl. How wonderful that you all go that extra mile. You are all truly inspirational to us all and a great example of dedication and committment. I always knew we had some wonderful staff here and time and time again you prove it. Sometimes as Geraint says words are just not enough. Thank you all.

    Blessings, Margaret Maurice. Catholic Chaplain Middlemore Hospital

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