Over the last few years as I’ve been doing my blog, I have been helped hugely by Katie Berry, a Senior Communications Advisor in our Communications Team. She has worked with me through thick and thin, encouraging me and others to make sure the CEO Blog happens every week. It is really to Katie’s credit that the blog has taken off as the great communication channel that it is. Sadly, she’s moving on to another role outside CM Health but before she goes, I thought it would be a good idea for her to sign off by contributing one last blog post about her time as a member of Team Counties. Over to you Katie, and thanks again for all your hard work…
This afternoon I’ll be walking out the front doors of Middlemore Hospital for the last time, four years and some months since I started working at CM Health. For my sins, I’ve been asked to contribute a CEO Blog post, not as the Senior Communications Advisor who helps Geraint write his blog each week, but as, well, little old me. After years of encouraging, cajoling and finally press-ganging colleagues into contributing posts of their own, it seems that karma is finally catching up with me. I certainly forgive any formerly press-ganged colleagues for having a laugh at my predicament and can assure you that I now appreciate anew just how daunting a blank page can be to fill!
As my time at CM Health has been drawing to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the substance of this organisation. Like everyone who works here, I’ve put a lot into my role but that is easily surpassed by the tremendous amount I have got out of it. Many years ago when I was new to the organisation, a colleague whom I greatly respect shared with me the idea that each of us brings to our lives a metaphorical flax kete in which we carry our unique talents and abilities. Learning something new or making a connection with someone adds to this basket of treasures that embodies who we are as individuals. When I leave this afternoon, I will take with me a flax kete that is many, many times fuller than when I started at CM Health in 2010. Indeed, working here has left me richer for the people I have known, the experiences I’ve had and the knowledge I’ve gained.
My first brush with the people of CM Health was on day one of this job – April 19, 2010 – at the Lambie Drive offices. Within 30 seconds of walking nervously in the front door, I was met by two colleagues offering warm smiles and a sincere welcome. It was unlike any other workplace I’d started at and I can still recall it to this day. While many faces I have met at work since then have come and gone, a genuine camaraderie and care exists in this organisation that is not true of every workplace. From cleaner to CEO, I can smile at someone in the corridor knowing I’ll get that and more back. Only yesterday morning, I needed to get a document witnessed and one of our staff members who also happens to be a Justice of the Peace was only too happy to help me, despite not having met me before. It has been a true privilege to be part of such a caring and nurturing culture, and to get to know so many kind-hearted people across the organisation.
CM Health has also offered me a rich array of experiences – from blogging with APAC keynote speakers to attending opening ceremonies at dawn. One day I’ve been rubbing shoulders with elected representatives on ministerial visits, and the next I’ve been talking to patients about the extraordinary care they’ve received and the life-changing experience they’ve had with us. One of my favourite experiences was helping run MiddleNOmore, the organisational weight loss campaign which saw participants collectively lose almost 500kg over five months in 2012. It struck a chord with a lot of staff. For me, MiddleNOmore served to remind me how much of themselves people who work here give to others, and it was exciting to help introduce an initiative that was dedicated solely to caring for the carers.
Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to CM Health for the knowledge I’ve gained while working here, not just in my field of expertise – communications, but about an array of other topics – health, Maaori and Pacific culture, leadership. You see, I’m trained as a journalist and had worked only at various newspapers prior to starting work here. As such, the learning curve has been steep at times, however, what continues to fascinate me about healthcare is the way in which it is ever-changing. There is always something new to learn, discover or improve. Only the other day I found myself flummoxed when I was approached by a stranger while walking down the corridor at Middlemore. He wanted to know what medication his wife needed to take and when – a question well beyond the scope of my very non-medical knowledge. I’m sure my blank look soon made him realise he had not struck it lucky by intercepting a doctor or pharmacist!
Indeed, my contribution to this organisation has not been the ability to heal people or even to care for them. All I can offer in return for the treasures that have been added to my flax kete is a humble gift of words. So to those whom I have worked with from cleaner to CEO, a heartfelt thank you for what you have done for me and what you continue to do for others. You are superstars, each and every one.