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Q. Looking back to 2022, what were your biggest highlights?
A: There are so many to list, but one that really resonated with me last year was the outcome of the Cuddle Beds campaign. What started as a simple, meaningful idea from a palliative care nursing caregiver on the frontline at one of our WA hospitals, evolved into getting these special beds into 12 St John of God Hospitals across Victoria and Western Australia, with the enduring support of our community. This initiative really speaks to our values at St John of God Health Care, and how we emphasise compassionate care during some of the most difficult times for patients and their loved ones.

I was also really thrilled to launch our inaugural St John of God Foundation Research Grants to fund an early career researcher as well as seed funding for two projects. Medical research is so important in leading to new discoveries and ensuring patients receive the best care possible.

Chances are, if you have a treatment today that wasn’t available ten years ago, someone with the knowledge and skills had the foresight to research a question like, “Will treatment A have better outcomes than treatment B?”

That idea of being able to explore new frontiers that have potentially life-changing impacts in health care really excites me. Similarly, the support for researchers to build capacity for systemic change, and to retain this talent in our communities is critical.

Q. What’s on the horizon for St John of God Foundation in 2023?
A. As always, there is a lot happening! We’ve recently welcomed new members to the Foundation Board – Bryan Pyne and Tina Chinery, and I’m excited to work closely with them, and our existing board members, to ensure maximum impact for the communities we serve.

We are also embarking on a new strategic plan to maximise our impact and, in the meantime, will continue to focus on funding areas of unmet need in advancing personalised patient treatments and leading medical research.

Q. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the health care sector right now?
A. Without a doubt, the biggest challenge currently facing health care providers is staffing shortages on a global scale. Added to this, we are an ageing population and we are living longer, so I think another challenge post-pandemic is how we ‘live well’ as a society.

More than one in five Australians over the age of 65 reported suffering two or more long term health conditions in the 2021 Census. If we can do more as a sector to prevent, treat and cure chronic disease, and to provide equitable and inclusive services to those most at risk or disadvantaged, we will continue to improve health outcomes and health equity.

Q. Could you tell us one thing you love about your job?

A. If I had to pick just one thing, I’d say the people! I consider myself very blessed to be able to call my team and all the amazing caregivers in our hospitals and services my colleagues, and I love working with our donors, corporate partners and community members. We’re all united with the same goal - to make a difference.

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