New CEO has ‘caring for others’ at heart

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Maryvale Private Hospital’s new CEO, Lee Garwood, believes caring for others should be at the heart of everything healthcare professionals do.

And he should know, after starting his career in nursing and working his way up to executive leadership roles.

“My Mum was a nurse, my aunt was a pharmacist – we have quite a few healthcare workers in the family,” Mr Garwood said.

“Caring for other people is part of my nature, so I just knew it was my thing.”

Mr Garwood went to university in the United Kingdom and worked in a number of large teaching hospitals there before “making the leap” to move to the other side of the world in 2008.

His career has included roles as a healthcare mentor at Melbourne's La Trobe University, a Conjoint Senior Lecturer for the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Newcastle, and an industry advisor to universities, TAFEs and other training organisations.

“What keeps me motivated and inspired is the ability to make a difference to people’s lives,” the 35-year-old said.

“Despite being in executive leadership roles, I work clinically every so often to maintain my skills and to understand patients’ and caregivers’ experiences.”

Mr Garwood said despite the challenges of 2020, there had been a number of changes for the better.

“COVID has changed the way we deliver care for our patients … and there has been a lot of innovation, particularly with telehealth,” he said.

“For surgical purposes, obviously we still need that face-to-face contact with our patients, but for follow up appointments or pre-admission, we have been doing a lot over the phone and a number of GPs here have been using telehealth, as a way to offer more convenience.”

He said the partnership between public and private health had been paramount to success this year.

“For me, whether we’re in public, private or not-for-profit, we’re all healthcare providers and we’re all in it together to care for the same patients.

“We’re all looking after the same population,” Mr Garwood said.

“Our hospital faired fairly well during COVID and the relationship with the public sector was invaluable.

“From a staff perspective, it’s great the restrictions have eased here in Victoria and they can take time off and go out and enjoy the sunshine, which is very welcome right now.”

While responsible for stewardship of Maryvale – the only private hospital in the Gippsland area – Mr Garwood said he was also committed to working alongside his team to deliver patient care, develop services for the community, and train the next generation of healthcare workers and leaders.

“We’re looking at the patient experience, that’s central to what we do,” he said.

“We really want to ensure that people in the Gippsland area can be treated locally, without having to go to Melbourne unless it’s absolutely necessary. We’re looking at becoming a health campus, because we want people to live locally, study locally and work locally, and relationships within that sphere are paramount.”

Closer community ties will be a feature of Mr Garwood’s leadership, with strengthened relationships and contemporary ways of interacting with the area – including a new website and social media – to be rolled out alongside new services.

“We’re looking at a redevelopment plan, some upgrades to our theatres and a bit of a general refresh,” he said.

Mr Garwood has moved from Melbourne, where he was previously CEO of Brunswick Private Hospital, to take up his new position at Maryvale and said he was thrilled about being part of the region.

“It’s great to get out into the beautiful scenery here, I’ve just bought a house, so that’s really exciting,” he said.

“I’m keen to be part of the community, so getting out there, and forging relationships and bringing people together  – that’s what I’m really about.”

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