The end of an era

Three EDMH board members retire after a combined 99 years of service.

A passion for their community has seen Ron Hawkins, Jan Grigg and Mike Holland commit a combined 99 years to the Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital board.

Last Friday night the EDMH board members held a dinner for the retiring board members  to thank them for their many years of services.

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“It is not every day we see people committing to these volunteer roles for such a length of time, said EDMH CEO Kevin Mills

“The amount of time a board member gives to the hospital is hard to quantify but I must say they contribute a significant amount of unpaid time every month”

“We are very fortunate to have had these 3 board members sharing their experience and skills with us for such a long time”.

“It takes many different talents to make up a functioning board that can deliver”

Over this time the board has achieved many milestones some of which include:

  • The administration block
  • The Nursing Home
  • The Craig wing
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry
  • The Lakes Hostel
  • The Else Bennett Centre
  • Community Health Services
  • The Day Centre program
  • The Medical Clinic
  • The Staff Accommodation

The longest serving board member Mr Hawkins was recruited to the board in 1974.

“My father had been a patient in the hospital, and I was so impressed with the care he was given in this time.”

“When he passed away I told Dr Bade how much I appreciated the what the hospital had done for him and asked ‘is there anything I can do for the hospital in return?’. “

“Straight away he said yes there is you are on the board. Well that was that and here I am 43 years later.”

From his fellow board members Ron is described as inspiring, he has a level of expertise and professionalism that inspires the whole board.  They say there is no better person to have with you in a crisis, and he is very loyal to the board and the hospital.

Mr Hawkins, besides running a successful Farming Enterprise has been a councillor and also volunteering on various other committees you would wonder how he found the time.

“I didn’t play sport and was very lucky that I had a supportive family that allowed me to do it.  Being part of the board forms a part of your professional development and your development as a person.”

“I was always learning and from that, was able to bring back knowledge and ideas to my own business and family”

“Of all the things being on the EDMH board has been the most satisfying.  Working with the hospital you are doing something for everyone, the whole community benefits and you see results in what you do”

Over the years the community has worked hard to raise money to support the hospital and it’s facilities.  The Ladies auxiliary and Murray to Moyne have been strong contributors over the years. 

“The Hospital is so important to the district, it keeps the community together.  EDMH is a good example of a community based health service”

The board has always supported and backed the doctors.  One of Mr Hawkins memories is of Dr Bade “Dr Bade was always ahead of his time, he would always have new ideas such as delivering chemotherapy, skin grafting, cardiac care and the board would always back these finding the money to support it locally. ”

Mr Hawkins is proud of the fact that the Hospital is still a free standing and independent entity “Pressures for amalgamations from the department are big, I am proud that we have retained our acute beds despite this.”

“We have stuck to our guns on the basics but we are shrewd enough to adapt to changes when needed”

“One of the major challenges the board faces is maintaining local relevance given the declining population.  It is important to embrace changes and opportunities”.

A tireless worker throughout her 32 years on the board Jan Grigg, known as the quiet achiever is always doing a lot of the behind the scenes work to support the board and hospital.

Mrs Grigg, a loyal member of the board who continued as an active member even whilst having her fourth child Hamish.

“I was able to manage this because of my husband Austin. Sometimes we might have dinner meetings in Casterton or Coleraine, Austin would deliver Hamish to the meeting so I could breastfeed him and then take him home again” said Mrs Grigg

Once when a fellow board member Vonnie Penrose commented to Austin that he was good to provide this support to Jan he replied ‘I do it because I am proud of her’.

Mrs Grigg enjoyed many aspect of being a part of the board “I didn’t look at it as being a chore.”

“One of the things I enjoyed the most was being on a committee call the ‘House Committee’ it was the role of this committee to spend time visiting with the patients in the hospital”

In the 80s Mrs Grigg was also involved in the Fundraising committee which raised a staggering $500,000 for the Nursing home.

One of the biggest achievements by Jan was her involvement in the establishment of the Barkala Flats. 

Jan, Ross McDonald along with Dr Bade were on the founding committee to provide low cost accommodation to those less fortunate . 

Jan has continued her interest in the Flats and is now involved with the refurbishments of the flats.

Jan feels we are lucky to have attracted current CEO Kevin Mills “he will be great”

“Jan was always available whether it be to sign cheques, purchase gifts or prizes for an event.  Also her advice on interior decorating was invaluable and she was often travelling about the country to find furnishings for the hospital and the staff accommodation” said Board Chair Tony Kealy

Mike Holland has held many officer roles in his time on the EDMH board, the board describe him a wise council who has been at the core of the board.  He has lead the board through many years and always been there when it counted.

After 24 years service to the board Mr Holland attributes the fact that “we were always achieving something and doing good for the hospital and the community” to what kept him involved with the board for nearly two and a half decades.

“If you are achieving something then then it is enjoyable, there was always something happening which kept me interested.”

Managing his time between his business and his board commitments was sometimes challenging “you just had to make time – there was compromise, prioritising and juggling to make things fit”

“We have had some really good people to work with.  Personally working together as a group of professionals both exec and board has been most satisfying.”

“During my time people have come and gone, most notable was Emma Kealy who came to us with limited experience, she did a lot of good things whilst in her role as CEO”

“I found watching her grow was most rewarding.  Being able to achieve her position in politics is great, and a good thing for the Hospital as she is a great advocate for us.”

“The staff accommodation building has been a great achievement for the board.”

“Attracting staff is a big issue, we are now getting quality staff that would not otherwise have considered coming here.”

“We are hopeful that they will then continue to stay in the community”

Mr Holland believes there will be many challenges the hospital faces into the future “being able to fit a small rural hospital into the guidelines that the department have set to meet the needs of bigger city hospital is always a challenge”.

“The expectations of healthcare needs are changing, we are now moving more towards preventative healthcare rather than treating sick people”

One common theme among all three retiring board members is their acknowledgement that they could not do what they do without the support of their partners and families.  They are very thankful for this support.  

Also how thankful they are of the fantastic job that all staff do in the running of the hospital.

Board President Tony Kealy acknowledges the significant role each of them have played in the masterplan which “has led to the successful submission for funding for the redevelopment of our nursing home.”

“All three have been awarded Life Governance during their time on the board.”

“On behalf of the board, the staff at the hospital and the community we thank them for their near century combined service to the hospital board.”