Covid Messages from Russell

End of Year Messages from Russell – 17 Dec 2020

December 17, 2020

End of Year Messages from Russell

While I think we are all breathing a sigh of relief that we have almost reached the end of the very strange year that has been 2020, it is also wonderful that we can now embrace the opportunities for celebration.

As we come to the year end, I wanted to let you know about a number of recent events and announcements.


Our first ever virtual AGM was broadcast yesterday. In her speech, our Board Chair, Robyn Batten, expressed the Board’s sincere appreciation for the incredible amount of work and the dedication of all staff throughout this difficult year.  She also highlighted many of the exceptional achievements of our staff and volunteers throughout the period from mid 2019 through until this year, including the successful passing of the accreditation survey.

Longest service awards

During the AGM broadcast, we also celebrated the remarkable contributions of some of our longest serving staff – those with 35, 45 and even 50 (!!) years of service.

It was fantastic to hear the stories of Olga Learoyd and Beverley Howard, both are clinical nurse specialists who have worked together in Footscray theatre and related areas for most of their 45 years of service, something that I am sure is very rare.

Then not to be outdone, there was the incredible 50 year milestone for Toni Powell, who had worked as an admissions clerk at Williamstown Hospital for her entire career and was even married there! Toni recently retired and no doubt is taking a well-earned break.

Congratulations to Toni, Olga and Beverley, as well as our 35 year recipients:

  • Sonia Cini, Instrument Technician in CSSD at Footscray
  • Shirley Gorman, Clinical Specialist Midwife now at Joan Kirner
  • Claire Jury, Midwife in Maternity Services, now at Joan Kirner
  • Kathryn McMahon, Nurse Educator at Williamstown Hospital
  • Karen Nancarrow, Ultrasound Assistant in Footscray Medical Imaging
  • Ruth Reid, Patient Representative
  • Leanne Rhodes – Care Coordinator/Community Nurse with the Nursing and Medical at Home Team
  • Lucyna Stachowiak – Registered Nurse on Ward 2 East at Footscray Hospital

Early next year we will be marking all of the other service milestones.

Board Chair’s INSPIRE Medal

In the recent INSPIRE Awards ceremony, the winners of the Inspirational Stories category were:

  • Kate Cranwell
  • ICU teams
  • Aged Care In reach team
  • Critical Care Outreach Team

Our Board Chair then selects one of these as the winner of the Board Chair’s INSPIRE Medal. It is the third year in a row that we have presented this award. For 2020, the Board Chair’s INSPIRE Medal has been presented to the Aged Care In-Reach Team led by Kirsty Barnes and Dr Clare White. At the conclusion of the AGM broadcast, you can view the presentation to Kirsty and Clare and hear their very moving and generous speeches. Congratulations to them both and to the whole incredible team on this well-deserved award.

AGM link



Reflections from our former Board Chair

Following the AGM and the presentation of the Board Chair Medal, in the last 15 minutes of the broadcast you will see a fascinating interview series with our former Board Chair, The Hon Bronwyn Pike, as she reflects on her time with Western Health and the many initiatives and changes she saw during her time as Chair.

Exceptional families – cards of support

After such a tough year, I wanted to express my thanks to your exceptional families, partners, friends and loved ones who have supported you, our staff, during 2020. A special batch of cards are making their way to each of you, expressing my thanks. I ask that you take these home to whoever provided you with support throughout the year.

Born a Westie

For all of my time here at Western Health I have been struck by the number of staff who were born at one of our hospitals and now work here. This led me to think about how we could provide a means of recognition of this amazing connection and that’s how “I’m a Westie” came about. We now have specially designed badges for all those staff and volunteers who fit this bill. If you or your colleague is one of these people, please send a note to and we will organise your special badge!

Tuesday Webinar link

For anyone who missed my webinar from Tuesday of this week, you will find the link here.

Outside of all that, thank you all once again, have a great Festive period and if you are having a break, I hope you enjoy it and if you are working, thank you for your continued commitment to support your colleagues, patients and community.

Stay safe.