Speak up

Geraint presents Maria with her certificate
Geraint presents Maria with her certificate

Last week I was fortunate to be invited to Pukekohe Hospital for a coffee and a chat. While I was there, I made a surprise presentation to a lovely lady called Maria Burch. Maria works at Franklin Memorial Hospital and has been a Health and Safety representative for the past five years.   Along with 19 safety reps from across the organisation, Maria was recognised for her contribution to keeping our workplace safe for our patients, visitors and staff. Maria received her award for outstanding health and safety engagement and service.

In fact, Maria is so dedicated to her job that she nearly missed the presentation. When asked if she was coming, she said she would be late as she had a health and safety audit to complete – now that’s dedication.  I’m joined by Maria to tell us more.

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Maria does the rounds

I’ve always had an interest in health and safety, so when I was asked to be a Health and Safety representative it seemed a good fit.   I believe everyone should be responsible for the health and safety of their patients, however, it helps to know what to look for. For example at Franklin Memorial Hospital, we look after a lot of elderly patients, so you need to regularly monitor safety risks such as trip hazards, and obstacles that could cause a fall, for example, carpet lifting up, beds raised too high, etc. And it’s not just the inside of the building you need to think about, there could be hazards outside. For example security lights that are not working, leaves being dragged inside (slip hazard) or ramps that need an upgrade. We used to have a ramp that had wooden handrails – this was a hazard because of splinters, so the rails were replaced with stainless steel.

The main message I want to get across is that if you see something that could be a hazard do something about it. Don’t walk away thinking someone else will do it for you.

It also pays to be a bit creative when thinking of solutions. We used to have a dining room table that had a central board that ran underneath it.   This had on one occasion scrapped an elderly lady’s legs when her wheelchair was being pushed under the table. To fix the problem, I got my hands on a pool noodle, asked our Engineer to cut out a groove and covered the bottom of the centreboard. That’s what I love about being a Health and Safety representative, you can help prevent accidents from happening.

I’ve noticed a lot of safety improvements while I’ve been in the role. However, I don’t consider what I do a job – it’s become a part of my practice. I’ve worked at Franklin for over 12 years, and everyone takes great pride in providing safe and quality care. While we predominately provide care for the elderly, we also provide palliative care and respite for the local community.

What I love about Franklin and Pukekohe is the community spirit.   I can’t think of a better place to live or to work.

Maria and Geraint

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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.

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