8 February, 2024
A changing of the guard
AN expanded workforce will lead Terang and Mortlake Health Service (TMHS) through a changing of the guard as fresh faces embrace new opportunities following the departure of long-serving staff members.
In recent months, the health service has bid farewell to a number of long-term staff members who have stepped in to retirement.
TMHS chief executive officer Julia Ogdin paid tribute to outgoing employees such as Janine DeBaere, who spent 17 years in front-of-house administration roles, and Gaye Sanderson, who retired after 17 years as quality, risk and safety manager.
Despite their irreplaceable absence, TMHS has bucked the trend of staffing shortages to welcome a number of new staff members who are excited to be joining the community’s largest employer.
The additions will support the organisation across a range of duties from administration to kitchen and nursing.
Ms Ogdin said an ongoing emphasis would be to create an environment where new joiners are welcomed and supported to have a successful tenure.
“In a climate where many sectors are struggling to recruit successfully, we are very fortunate to have sourced such a high calibre of new joiners in recent months,” she said.
Among those finding their feet with TMHS is Elly O’Keeffe, who will serve as the new quality, risk and safety manager.
The position presented a homecoming opportunity for Ms O’Keeffe, who applied for the position from Queensland hoping to return to the little country town where she was born.
“I’m from Terang originally but left when I was two, so it’s been a loong time but I’ve always had the intention of coming back,” she said.
“I previously worked in a larg, tertiary private hospital in Brisbane, so having the opportunity to return back home to where all of my family is was very exciting.
“The stars aligned with the right role becoming available, and I feel very fortunate to have been successful.”
Ms O’Keeffe has been back in Terang for five weeks, and said the community and health service was already starting to feel like home.
“It’s been wonderful; and I already feel like this is a great place to work alongside great people and a great team,” she said.
“I’m familiarising myself with everyone and how things work before I figure out how I bring my flair to the role, but I want to be able to streamline our processes to be as easy and user-friendly as possible to support the service in providing the best care for our patients.
“We want to not only have our patients at the forefront, but to create an environment where our staff are safe and taken care of to ensure they get great job satisfaction out of what they’re doing.”
Among the new additions was Terang’s Meagan James, a homegrown product who sought career advancement while remaining local with her partner and three children.
“I’ve been working with Mount View as an enrolled nurse for the past seven years, but I’ve always had the intention of working at the hospital,” she said.
“I had two of my children at Terang Hospital, and back then I was seeing what a great place this was to work.
“After I had my oldest daughter, I thought it was a good time to enrol at university and complete my training as a registered nurse.
“My first preference when I was applying for my grad year was to work with TMHS because I wanted to stay local with my family, and occupationally this is a great hospital because you still get to see a bit of everything.”
Ms James said the opportunity TMHS had provided to pursue career advancement while continuing to raise her family locally had been a dream come true.
In addition to her familiarity with many across the health service, she has been a long-time Ambulance community officer, State Emergency Service volunteer and involved in the school community through her children’s education.
“Community is very important to me,” she said.
“So I’ve been really enjoying it, and as I know the nurses it’s been much easier to transition.
“Even with patients or staff members I hadn’t worked with, I’ve got to know so many of them over the years that it’s created a really comfortable environment.”