Honouring some of our longest-serving employees

In 2022 we had 22 employees celebrating 40 years of service or more with Monash Health. Many of our longer-serving employees celebrated in person at our Length of Service Awards on Monday, where we learned just a little of their stories as they took to the stage to collect their certificates.

Here are just some of their stories…

Beverley Grant, Registered Nurse

At 83, Beverley Grant is still passionate about healthcare after an incredible 66-year career.

Beverley became a mothercraft nurse at the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 17 and completed general nurse training at the Queen Victoria and Alfred hospitals before joining Moorabbin Hospital in 1977.

“I used to take patients for tests and exercise and things, and to other hospitals in the ambulance, and then I’d work on wards, wherever it was busy,” she says.

Beverley had four children – Andrew, Phillip, Martin, and Julie – with late husband Arthur, who built the family home she still lives in. She helped Arthur’s business while raising her family.

After moving to Monash Medical Centre in 1995, Beverley nursed in the Respiratory Ward for two years and spent almost 25 years in the Acute Renal Ward (Ward 34 South).

“I worked with a wonderful team of nurses and doctors,” she says. “We had many happy years.”

Technology improved, but dialysis remained the only option for many patients, including those waiting for kidney and pancreas transplants. Beverley loved seeing them get better. “We were very happy for the patients to see that they became more independent,” she says.

At one point, her patients included two colleagues – a chef and a porter. “He (the porter) used to come up and say, ‘you lot saved my life’,” Beverley says. “You get a lot of patients who are very grateful for what you do. It becomes like a family with the staff and the doctors and the patients. We’re still great friends.”

COVID-19 was challenging, but Beverley still has the spirit that inspired her daughter, Julie Price, who has been a Monash Health nurse for more than 30 years. Julie’s daughter, Isabella, is studying nursing.

Now retired, Beverley is busy with home renovations, gardening and (hopefully) travel. She has many happy memories of Monash Health. “I loved nursing,” she says.

Jeffrey Davies, Senior Pharmacist

Jeffrey Davies has the perfect elixir for job dissatisfaction. The popular Senior Pharmacist doesn’t regret a minute of his 45 years with Monash Health. He even met his wife Domenica at work.

When Jeffrey was at school, he had no career plans until someone mentioned pharmacy college, which he hadn’t heard of. He soon found his calling and joined Queen Victoria Hospital in 1977.

Pharmacies were paper-based and labels hand-written in pen, while pharmacists stayed in their department. After relocating from the Queen Victoria Hospital to the Monash Medical Centre in 1987, computers changed everything – printing labels, and recording stock and patient details. Pharmacists also became part of ward services.

As an intern, Jeffrey was trained by his future wife, now a 47-year Monash Health veteran. He took nine years to ask Domenica out, but they married soon after and had Grace, 32, who is studying to be a paediatrician and JeffreyHarold, 29, who works as a property valuer in London.

Twenty years ago, Jeffrey and Domenica moved to part-time work to spend more time with their children. It brought them all closer together. “It was wonderful to have that connection,” Jeffrey says. “It was a pivotal time in my life.”

Jeffrey, 66, continues to help run outpatient pharmacy services in Clayton and teach interns, which he took over from Domenica 40 years ago. He loves it and has so far trained 371, including Monash Health Director of Pharmacy, Sue Kirsa.

“She was in the first group that I ever trained,” Jeffrey says. “Every year I get a new group of interns starting. Every year is rewarding.”

A keen St Kilda supporter and cricket fan, Jeffrey enjoys photography with Domenica. Both document Malvern Cricket Club games and each year present the club, where JeffreyHarold played, with a photographic movie. It has become a presentation night highlight.

Jeffrey also takes beginner cricket lessons but isn’t quite ready to leave Monash Health. “I’ve had a good run,” he says. “I love my work.”

Jenny Culell, Pathology Quality Systems Project Officer

At school, Jenny Culell was fascinated by growing bacteria in petri dishes and wanted to help people, making health the perfect fit. Her career has since spanned manual pathology testing in relatively low numbers to mass-produced results and COVID-19 RAT tests.

Jenny joined Monash Health as a medical scientist in 1982, but her connection dates to 1978 as a trainee scientist before completing her medical laboratory science studies full-time. She joined pathology at Dandenong Hospital in 1982, specialising in microbiology. “I really loved working at Dandenong. It was a real family atmosphere,” she says. “We all looked out for each other.”

Jenny worked as a scientist in several pathology disciplines across multiple campuses. More recently she worked as the Pathology Quality Systems Manager. She completed a Master of Quality Management and raised her children, Rebecca, Chris, and Elise, now in their 30s. She has five grandchildren, six step-grandchildren and one step-great-grandson.

Over the years, Jenny has seen pathology advance from 100-200 results a day to thousands for certain tests. Some tests can now be performed in just a few minutes.

Her many highlights include a mid-1980s project that developed a precursor of home testing kits that became critical during the pandemic. It involved local doctors conducting pathology tests rather than sending them to labs.

After starting her transition to retirement in 2020, Jenny lost her partner of 15 years, Graeme Lace, later that year. They had enjoyed working together on their respective farms breeding Angus beef cattle. Jenny has a six-hectare property in Garfield, with a permaculture vegetable garden, six chickens and Speedy the Jack Russell.

When she retires, she will spend more time on it but will miss her Monash Health colleagues. “The people I’ve worked with have been incredible,” she says. “At the end of the day, what we all work towards is human health and quality of life.”

Julie Galloway, Kingston Centre Deputy Director of Nursing

The many highlights of Julie Galloway’s nursing career include a ground‐breaking Hospital in the Home trial, a UK study tour, and commissioning the Kingston Centre’s North West Block.

Julie’s 40 years with Monash Health began at Dandenong Hospital in 1982 as a Registered Nurse/Midwife, Nurse Manager and Assistant Director of Nursing. In 2000, she moved to the Kingston Centre as Casual Nurse Bank Manager, rising to Deputy Director of Nursing and on many occasions acting Director.

As a young nurse Julie worked in Alice Springs and London. Such experiences helped broaden her horizons for her future career roles and leadership challenges.

“The medical field is always changing, so you have to learn to change and adapt,” she says. “In health, change is constant. The pandemic has tested everybody, but it’s just been amazing the work that’s been going on in our hospital. The staff are amazing.”

Julie, who has now retired, enjoyed her entire career, especially her role in Dandenong Hospital’s 1990s ‘Hospital in the Home’ pilot, which helped pave the way for the popular program. She also relished her involvement in the many changes she has been part of while working at Kingston Centre in Rehabilitation & Aged Care.

“My career at Monash Health has provided me with a ‘kaleidoscope’ of wonderful experiences from a professional and personal perspective,” she says. “It has been a privilege to work with so many incredible people who really care and have the patients as their focus.”

A keen gardener and St Kilda fan, Julie has more time to tend her rose bushes, play Pennant Bowls and travel to Portugal – possibly her favourite place. “It’s quiet and laid back and warm, and from the sea to the city the countryside is beautiful,” she says.

Professor Peter Kerr, Unit Head, Nephrology

Professor Peter Kerr glows with pride when he speaks about Monash Health’s Nephrology Department.

“We’ve got a very strong department,” says Peter. “But on top of that, we’ve got a unit where everyone gets on well together, which is fantastic.”

As Unit Head, Professor Kerr has watched the Nephrology service excel in the hospital setting, with initiatives like the Big Red Kidney Bus, a mobile dialysis unit for patients seeking to take a holiday and receive treatment while on holidays.

The Nephrology Department is strong both clinically and in the research arena, Professor Kerr says.

While he finds research intellectually stimulating, Professor Kerr highlights how important it is for improving patient care.

“It keeps you abreast of what’s happening in your specialty,” he says. “But research also makes you stop and think, rather than doing the same thing every day.”

This year we’re celebrating 40 years of service for Professor Kerr.

“I was an intern at Prince Henry’s in the early 1980s, but my first rotation was actually a General Surgery term down at Moorabbin Hospital.”

As a second-year resident, Professor Kerr had a nephrology term that made him seriously consider the specialty as a career.

“The registrar was inspiring,” he says. “I stuck with it and loved it.”

Throughout his impressive career, Peter has witnessed Monash Health grow and develop.

“The structure changed from the old Prince Henrys when we came out here,” he says. “Prince Henry’s Hospital was a General Medicine-type hospital with a few specialties. And the specialties were only made up of a few people.”

“Now we have so many strong specialties that are well known around the country,” Peter says. “The other important thing is that the services are more integrated and work together.”

Although he is in no rush to retire, Professor Kerr is interested in handing over the reins as Head of Unit at some point in the future.

“What I’d really like to do is let someone else take over and have the opportunity to watch them grow into the role and keep the momentum going and be there to give them a little bit of assistance as needed.”

Sally Bocala, Registered Nurse 3B, Hospital in the Home

Helping others is a way of life for Rizalina (Sally) Bocala. Starting her nursing career at Queen Victoria Medical Centre, Sally made the move to Monash Medical Centre when it opened in 1987.

Initially, Sally worked across many departments including surgical and orthopaedic, and in the role of Associate Nurse Unit Manager. Sally then made the transition to medical, which was vastly different to other departments, but she accepted the challenge and adjusted easily. Sally credits smooth transitions within the organisation to a supportive network.

“I am appreciative of the wonderful environment at Monash Health,” she says, “I work well with the team, keen to do my part.”

In her spare time, Sally enjoys being involved with volunteer work, a passion also shared by her children. Pre-COVID, Sally participated in many overseas medical missions, fundraising for, and delivering medical supplies to the Philippines, while her grown children volunteered in Thailand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Closer to home, Sally and her daughter serve their church’s local community. Every week will see them feeding the homeless near Dandenong Station, a service that brings Sally great fulfilment.

Sally also participates in a food redistribution service, collecting fresh fruit and vegetables from Dandenong Market on Tuesday evenings, and distributing them to those in need the next day.

Sally says it has been “a privilege and a joy” to be part of the team at Monash Health.

“I am still in contact with older staff…I’ve met some great peers.”

Sue Hill, Clinical Nurse Specialist (Ear, Nose and Throat)

After training as a nurse in Tasmania, Sue Hill moved to Melbourne in 1982 and spent her first year at Queen Victoria Hospital and Jessie McPherson.

After working as a Nurse Unit Manager of a general gynaecology ward, Sue made the move to the new Clayton site in 1987, where she was the Nurse Unit Manager of the day ward and endoscopy suite, adding new knowledge and skills to her already established skill set.

Sue relocated to the newly opened day ward at Moorabbin in the early 1990s, and was involved in both the planning and recruiting for the Women’s Health Surgical Unit, consisting of two operating theatres, a day ward and dysplasia clinic.

Further expanding her knowledge, Sue completed a 12-month perioperative certificate and commenced as a perioperative nurse at Moorabbin, and later became an Ear, Nose and Throat Clinical Nurse Specialist, where she has worked ever since.

COVID presented many challenges in Sue’s role. Wearing full PPE was not easy, and her Ear, Nose and Throat speciality was at high risk of infection – but she and her colleagues did an incredible job.

“We were very proud of ourselves with the way we handled the situation,” she says. “We had a lot of support and readily available equipment.”

Moorabbin’s operating theatres remained open during 2020 and 2021 but closed at the beginning of 2022, forcing Sue to temporarily work at Clayton.

Sue is married and has two adult sons and a black Labrador. She enjoys the company of her friends, travel, hiking and being outdoors.

She also enjoys eating out with Monash Health friends.

“We often refer to our workmates as our family,” she says. “We’ve been through a lot with each other.”

Despina Kotsanas, Infectious Diseases Scientist

Starting out at Prince Henry’s Hospital in 1982, Despina moved to Queen Victoria Medical Centre, then to Monash Medical Centre when it opened in 1987.

“It was a very busy and exciting time as wards closed, laboratory items were packed up and moved into a brand-new hospital,” she says.

Starting out as a microbiology scientist in the pathology laboratory, Despina has grown and developed her career, and has worked in Monash Health’s Infectious Diseases as a scientist since 2001.

Despina’s diverse work has included antimicrobial database extracts, microbiology outbreak investigations, research and epidemiology. She has a passion for organisation and detail, and enjoys collaborating with colleagues across departments.

Despina continues to see the evolution of lab advancements such as total laboratory automation and rapid technology such as PCR testing – especially during COVID.

Despina is thankful for being encouraged to undertake further studies in clinical epidemiology by the department.

“I will never stop learning and I’m fascinated by the new microbes that are constantly being discovered, watching the ever-evolving new genomic era of testing and investigation provide rapid results and improving patient health.

“Genomics is becoming the new frontier of microbial epidemiology.”

Highlights for Despina include teaching Infectious Diseases registrars and infection control staff about microbiology, and has had the opportunity over the last two decades to support the teams in research.

Family has been a great focus for Despina in recent years. The addition of a grandchild to the family has shifted Despina’s attention to playtime, relearning nursery rhymes and undertaking a detailed cross-stitch project, which appealed to her love as a microbiologist.

Despina has also reached back to her family roots, exploring her family tree and building a new appreciation for her parents’ journey to Australia, and all the opportunities that have flowed as a result.

Fiona Crouch, Midwife

Fiona Crouch started her career at the Queen Victoria Medical Centre as a midwife, and made the transition to Monash Medical Centre as soon as it opened.

Fiona focuses her attention on antenatal education and lactation consultancy, taking joy from empowering new parents to manage the parenthood journey independently.

It is not uncommon for Fiona to be involved in the care of all siblings across the span of a family’s growth. She has even had the pleasure of looking after colleagues and their newborns.

Making a valued contribution and impression on people’s lives, Fiona has been recognised far from the hospital setting by thankful families.

With her husband and two sons, Fiona has spent a lot of quality time at Pambula indulging her love of the outdoors, especially water sports. Also an avid bike rider, Fiona spends a lot of time on coastal and river tracks, preferring the open spaces free from the hustle and bustle of suburbia.

Fiona has witnessed the evolution of midwifery over her 40 years.

“Midwifery has changed a great deal,” she says. “We have electric beds and machines to transport patients around the hospital. We have machines to accurately give intravenous fluids and machines to monitor patients’ vital signs.”

Fiona says the introduction of EMR has also eliminated the need to decipher a doctor’s handwriting!

Dearest to Fiona is the life-long friends she has gained through Monash Health.

“I have been very fortunate to work in many areas of the hospital and I have made many long-standing friendships. It’s sort of like my second home.”

Rosemary Faragher, midwife

The young-at-heart Rosemary Faragher has seen a lot of change in her 40 years with Monash Health.

Starting her midwifery career at the Queen Victoria Medical Centre, Rosemary moved across to Monash Medical Centre on the day it opened.

“It was a Sunday,” says Rosemary, “and 52 South was the only ward to open at first. A lot of stuff was still in transit. We had to walk the floor to find the equipment we were after.”

While Rosemary was sad to leave Queen Victoria Medical Centre, she says it was nice to be in something new with the latest technology. She particularly remembers the new fire alarms, a feature not seen in older buildings, which could initially be a little over-sensitive.

“It was a bit annoying that they went off so often,” says Rosemary, “but it was nice to chat to the firemen!”

In her spare time, Rosemary keeps some fun in her life by attending belly dancing classes, which she’s been doing for 20 years.

“We have a great time…it’s great for the social side. We usually end up at Oasis Bakery afterwards. We do an end-of-year concert in full costume.”

As a mother to three children, Rosemary sees herself as a homebody, appreciating the simple things in life around her. “I like to have fun,” she says, choosing to see the lighter side of each moment.

Of her contribution to Monash Health, Rosemary humbly sees herself as “an ordinary little cog in the big scheme of things.”

Rosemary takes a lot of joy out of the life-long friends she has made along the way, and is still working alongside a fellow midwifery graduate after all these years.

 

Approved by Anjali Dhulia, Katrina Nankervis and Louise Kanis

 

Main image (L-R): Beverley Grant and Professor Andrew Stripp



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