Gladstone executive leaves hospital in better shape
TWO and a half years ago Dr Nicki Murdock arrived at Gladstone Hospital, in a community where many had little faith in the quality of service the hospital provided.
Tomorrow, she leaves her position as executive director of medical services, satisfied that much of that public perception has been resolved.
"I feel we now have a hospital that people have much greater confidence in," she said.
"The people trust our hospital more - and they are right to."
Many of the improvements have come about because Dr Murdock has been able to recruit specialist staff in many areas, where before the departments relied almost solely on locums.
"There is much greater continuity and stability these days," she said.
"And the creation of Gladstone as a regional training hospital has helped to attract junior staff.
"Add to that, the better partnerships we now have within the hospital itself and with the community in general, and things are much better.
"I believe a lot of the improvement has been brought about by the 'Here for Health' initiative of Rio Tinto, which has brought medical professionals and key members of the community together.
"Without that initiative we would probably not have seen the co-operation we now enjoy."
She said there was a "different atmosphere" in the hospital these days, and people were working together better.
"It comes down to being able to employ permanent staff rather than have locums come and go."
Dr Murdock's next move is to Brisbane, where she and her husband Brian will be closer to family.
"And I'll then take some time to think what to do next, but ultimately another leadership role in health.
"After two and a half years, I need to take a break - and it's time to hand over the reins to someone else who can continue the good work we have achieved."
She said the next steps needed to continue the improvement were to look at new ways to do things.
"We have been in discussion with (surgeon) Dr Emelia Dauway about setting up a one-stop breast clinic, which will help patients considerably.
"And with the money which has been recently allocated, it will be good to see physical improvements within the hospital continue, such as the upgrade of the A and E department.
"We have already seen a lot of industry money come into the hospital to create a renal facility, and to upgrade the high dependency unit and operating theatres - work which is coming close to completion."
Dr Murdock said she had thoroughly enjoyed her time at Gladstone Hospital.
"I am really going to miss the people - working at this hospital has been one of the happiest experiences I have had in this profession."
Central Queensland Health and Hospital service CEO Len Richards praised the achievements of Dr Murdock in "virtually turning Gladstone Hospital around".
"I'll be sad to see her leave us. She has had many successes in recruiting permanent specialist staff, which has resulted in much greater stability," he said.
Mr Richards said he had been working toward recruiting a new director of medical services.