Signing off

To all of you who may have read my blog over the past six years, thanks for being a part of CM Health’s journey.  It’s been a real privilege sharing my blog with you each week. While the CEO Blog will discontinue for now, please continue to support CM Health and the wonderful people who work there.

Cymerwch ofal (Take care in Welsh)


Be a #FluFighter this winter

Brace yourself folks – the flu season has arrived, which can bring the dreaded running nose, scratchy throat, cough, body aches, a high fever and thumping headache of the seasonal flu.  The good news is you can easily help protect yourself and your loved ones by getting the flu vaccine.

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Managing a busy hospital

No offense to Dot McKeen, but one thing I probably won’t miss when I leave CM Health is a ‘Dot Day,’ which for those of you who don’t know is an email that goes out from Dot, GM of Middlemore Central telling us the Hospital is full. Let’s face it no-one wants to get a Dot Day email, however, when it comes your way, it triggers a chain reaction activating people across the hospital and primary care into action.

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Secure Hub roll-out

We live in a digital world. From the moment we wake up we reach for our devices, whether that’s our iPhone, iPad or Computer. It’s built into our lives, to a point where we don’t even think about it. First thing in the morning I check the weather forecast, find out my schedule for the day, fire off a few emails and catch up on the latest news – all from my iPhone. Digital apps are also a fast growing industry with over 165,000 health apps to choose from. At the touch of a button people can manage their health and track their progress from the comfort of their home. As health professionals we need to be aware of the apps our patients are using and equip ourselves with our own tool box so we can provide the most up to date care.  By working in partnership with healthAlliance and the Northern Regional DHBs we now have an opportunity to truly revolutionise healthcare in meaningful new ways.

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Moving on

As most of you know I handed in my resignation this week, after working as CEO of CM Health for the past 11 years. Since that happened I’ve had several people ask why the jump from CM Health to Te Papa in Wellington?

The simple answer is that after 33 years of health I was ready to pursue my other passion, which is in the field of arts and history.

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Keeping it real by walking the wards

The other day I heard a story about a man who had come into Middlemore Hospital to have a procedure done. When asked by a senior staff member about his experience, the one thing that stood out above the rest, was the kind nurse who took the time to make him a cup of tea, and to his delight included a biscuit. For this gentleman this simple act of kindness made him feel taken care of and valued. I found his experience really grounding – and a reminder that the little things like a cup of tea can make a world of difference in our patient’s eyes.

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Giving back to the community

Meet Allan Edmondson, member of the Patient & Whaanau Centred Consumer Council and ‘unsung hero’.  At a time when Allan should be enjoying a well-earned retirement, he and other members of the Council freely give their time, energy and experience to ensure people in their communities have a voice when it comes to improving patient care and health outcomes. This is Allan’s story.

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Paataka Place opens its doors

On Tuesday 7 February, Paataka Place opened its doors to the thousands of staff, visitors and patients who come through Middlemore Hospital every day. People were met with a modern and welcoming retail space with a range of shops which include Columbus Coffee, Elixir Expresso, little goodness, Subway, Send-a-Basket and Haumanu Pharmacy.

While I was ordering my coffee, I noticed the excited buzz of the staff around me, as they commented on how lovely it was to have a range of shops and eating places to choose from.

One lady said it was like being a kid in a candy store – there was so much on offer.
While I can assure you there was no candy in sight, I was delighted to see the range of healthy food and beverages available.

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First in the Family

Every day I hear stories that remind me why I love my job.  This week I met an impressive young woman whose story I would like to share.

Around seven years ago we set up the ‘Grow Our Own’ workforce programme aimed at supporting young people, Maaori and Pacific in our area, to consider a career in health with us.

The programme received a massive kick-start through our relationship with The Tindall Foundation who provided an investment in the early years of over $3 million. Sir Stephen Tindall also played a critical role to help sponsor the programme through these early stages.  This investment provided that platform for James Cook High School and Tangaroa College to come on board and enabled the creation of the Health Science Academies.

The Academies provide extra support in Science, Maths, and English to prepare students to gain entry to tertiary study, including medical school, as well as direct contact with doctors, nurses, and other clinicians in the health field. They also enabled us to showcase practical examples of the kind of work we do at Counties Manukau Health every day.

The key was to help these young people gain the relevant NCEA qualification to get into the right kinds of tertiary programmes that would ultimately led to a path back to us, with a guaranteed job once they qualified.

We understand that not every student would end up working with us. The programme not only cultivates new ambitions about a career in the health sector, but it can also lead students to a range of careers that these subjects can offer.

The rationale underpinning it was pretty simple – if we grow a workforce that reflects our community, then we can improve how we respond to our community and better meet their healthcare needs.

We know that attracting and developing talent to the health sector is a competitive business. We draw together people regionally, nationally and internationally to meet our growing workforce demands.

We also felt that investing in these young people would have a far wider reach in the community, as well as having a positive impact on their families. And that ultimately, if we’re successful, we would enable them to become the next generation of healthcare leaders in our community.

From little things, big things grow. ‘Grow Our Own’ is now working across the region, has received funding from the Government, and has been examined by other sectors to see what they might be able to replicate in their own communities.

It was therefore a hugely satisfying moment when I was having a coffee in Ko Awatea, clearing my emails, when a young woman came up and introduced herself. Her name was Fonoifafo.  Fono was part of our first cohort in the Health Science Academy at Tangaroa College, and that process inspired her into studying nursing.

She is the first crop of young people to complete the programme, and the first in her family to be university educated.  She is driven to support children and work in our community, and has been placed with our Kidz First Public Health Nursing Team.  The day she introduced herself was the first part of her induction into Counties Manukau Health as part of our 2017 Graduate Nurse intake. Throughout her studies, she also kept connected with Counties Manukau Health through Ko Awatea’s Handle the Jandal youth-led campaign.

I don’t know who was more proud.

It was satisfying to see something go from concept, to implementation, and now to see it transforming lives as we envisaged.

We’re privileged to have supported Fono to achieve her dreams. And she in turn has helped us make Counties Manukau Health a place that not only provides excellent healthcare, but also transforms the lives of those who work here.

Part of the inspiration for ‘Grow Our Own’ was my own experience. Back in the United Kingdom, I grew up in a place that was every bit as challenging as parts of our community with low levels of tertiary education, and even lower paid jobs for those who lived there.

I was lucky because a couple of people helped me. I ended up being the first person in my family to go to university. This education helped me transform my life, shaped my ambitions, and enabled me to have the life that I have today.

I can’t repay the people who helped me enough for their belief in me, but hopefully I can pay it forward to others. So thank you Fono for helping me achieve my dreams too.

What a great way to start the New Year. Thank you again Fono, and welcome to Counties Manukau Health.

Twas the week before Christmas

This is my last blog for 2016 and in the run up to Christmas, I’d like to thank you for your commitment and hard work this year.

Year after year, we strive to be one of the best performing DHB’s in the country, and 2016 is up there with the best. This was shown in our health targets, our collaborative campaigns and quality improvement initiatives, and the continued efforts of our staff who work on the frontline each and every day. While we have a lot to be proud of, we also know there is more to do if we are to achieve our goal of health equity.

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