THE board of Bass Coast Health, the region’s most important health provider, has capped off five years of growth and development by reappointing its CEO Jan Child.
Announcing the appointment this week, board chair Don Paproth said it was an easy decision for the Remuneration Committee and subsequently the board to make.
“Jan has brought about significant improvement in the standard of health care for the community at our hospital and aged care facilities, and also overseen a major investment in new buildings and equipment, highlighted by the $115 million redevelopment of the Wonthaggi Hospital,” Mr Paproth said.
“With all the activity going on at Wonthaggi it might be easy to forget what’s taking place on Phillip Island as well where the opening of the Community Health Hub there is being followed up with the building of a new hospital.
“A personal one for me has been the opening of our cancer care centre which has made a real difference to so many people, that and the partnerships we’ve improved and developed.
“There have of course been many challenges along the way, not least our response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has been well-handled by our staff, although the risk continues to be ongoing.
“The board has just reviewed Jan’s performance over the past 12 months and is delighted to be able to reappoint her for another five years.”
Speaking to the Sentinel-Times this week, Ms Child, said she was equally delighted to be able to continue with the work already in progress, with more to come.
“I am thrilled to be offered the opportunity to continue to work with and serve this community, and to be part of the extraordinary team at Bass Coast Health (BCH),” Ms Child said.
“I was initially asked to act as the CEO for three months in March 2016. I had just moved my elderly parents close to my home in Beaumaris, my daughter was doing her VCE, and my husband had just retired from the Police Force to take up golf!
“I had no knowledge of this hospital or the community and I had never been to Wonthaggi or Inverloch. I had holidayed at Phillip Island and the Prom like everyone does, and I remember thinking that the one hour and 50-minute trip from my home in Beaumaris would be fine for three months and much nicer than driving to and from the city.
“When I came to work here, I didn’t quite understand then that the thing I would enjoy most about my role, is the truly wonderful people who live and work in this community.
“I have always said that the best thing about Bass Coast Health, is its people – the staff, volunteers, patients, and community members who support it.
“It has been an absolute privilege to be part of this local community and to be a part of the team at BCH who want nothing more than to provide excellent care to their families, neighbours and friends.
“I have worked in a lot of hospitals in my time as a nurse and an administrator, and there is something uniquely special about the BCH staff – I think it is that they care deeply about their community.”
Ms Child acknowledged how much the BCH team had achieved over the past five years:
* Focused on improving the quality and safety of all our services, but especially ED, Maternity and Surgery, Radiology and Pathology.
* Created partnerships that bring highly skilled medical specialists to provide more complex care.
* Created new services such as the L. Rigby Cancer Centre, the Phillip Island Health Hub, the Armitage sub-acute service; the MRI and the Hospital in the Home program.
* Transitioned from a local health service to a sub-regional health service, which means we receive more funding to provide more care, and more complex care.
* Treated many more patients locally, in improved infrastructure.
“What is possibly more exciting, is what we will achieve over the next five years.
* Open the doors of the Wonthaggi Hospital Expansion project and be able to deliver our excellent care in a contemporary environment.
* Design, build and open the doors of a community hospital next door to the Phillip Island Health Hub.
* Continue to strengthen our partnerships to grow our sub-regional services in line with community needs – more medical, nursing and allied health specialists; more surgery; more aged care services; an expanded level 4 Maternity service with a Neonatal cot; more acute and sub-acute care in the home; all of which will mean more staff.
Our greatest challenge
“Without exception, the biggest challenge we have faced thus far, and will continue to face, is the Covid-19 Pandemic. BCH has been very clear that our role is to do whatever we can to keep our community safe.
“We saw it as our responsibility to set ourselves up as the COVID hospital for the sub-region; to do the tracing and follow up of our COVID community patients in the early days; we set up testing capacity quickly so our locals got tested quickly; we set up the Mass Vaccination Clinic; and we played a small role educating our community about how they could stay safe. Whilst we always followed State and Commonwealth directives at a minimum, we achieved extra things to keep our people safe such as creating the visitation pods at Kirrak, because our community helped make that happen.
“The tricky thing about this Pandemic, is that all of this takes time and effort, and our staff are fatigued. They are all working above and beyond – to clean more; wear PPE day in and out; screen more etc.
“And they are worried. They worry they will get the virus and take it home to the people they love; worry that they will give the virus unknowingly to their colleagues, patients and residents; worry that their community will be unlucky and unprepared; worry because they need to be strong but like many, are struggling with the day-to-day challenges (e.g. home schooling) that are part of this new COVID world.
“The secret to BCH being able to manage in this Pandemic, continually see more and more patients, and continue to provide good care in a time that is busier than ever, is without doubt the extraordinary people who have worked so hard, to make so much happen, in such a small amount of time.
“Our staff haven’t wavered from our priority of safety and quality, whilst also growing our services. Our Board has provided strong direction and governance; the State and Commonwealth governments have provided extraordinary support; our Volunteers and Auxiliaries given exceptional support; and our community and consumers has provided much needed input and feedback.
“People won’t always like what we do; and we won’t always get it right every time, but we are a learning, growing, developing service with a passion and commitment to continually look at how we can to be better for our community.
“I feel truly blessed to have found my way to the Bass Coast. Not just because I have this amazing job, but because I get to meet so many good, kind people every day and work alongside them to make a difference for our community. Oh, and I get to enjoy this beautiful part of the world at our second home in Inverloch (such a hidden treasure), with my family! Who wouldn’t want to stay for a couple more years!
Jan Child was appointed as Chief Executive Officer in September 2016 following a six-month interim role commencing in March 2016.
A Registered Nurse with post graduate qualifications in behavioural sciences, health administration and a Masters in Public Health, Ms Child is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a surveyor with the Australian Council of Healthcare Services. She has more than 30 years’ experience in public health, working in Department of Health and Human Services roles and also in numerous clinical and administration roles in western Victoria and across metropolitan Melbourne including at Peninsula Health and Alfred Health.
These connections and experience have proved crucial during the health service’s transition into a modern, sub-regional centre.