Cardiologist, Head of Medicine and Clinical Unit Leader of Rural Hospitals and elected member of the Board
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I am a cardiologist first of all, but I am Clinical Unit Leader for Internal Medicine which includes general medicine, respiratory, endocrinology, diabetes, gastroenterology, renal, rheumatology… there are 10 of them.
It’s like having 10 children, I have to write them down or I forget their names. They do keep me busy.
On top of that I am the Clinical Unit Leader for our rural services – Thames, Tokoroa, Te Kuiti and Taumarunui hospitals, and am particularly involved around recruiting medical staff.
I don’t have a typical day, but in broad terms I divide my time between clinical work and administrative and management functions.
I’m an elected member of the Waikato District Health Board. I spend one and a half days a month in board meetings.
" It’s a diverse diet and I think that’s what I enjoy, but it is busy... "
It’s a diverse diet and I think that’s what I enjoy, but it is busy.
I spend a day a week in the cardiac catheterisation laboratory where I do diagnostic tests and put in pacemakers.
I do a clinic one afternoon a week when I see 14 to 16 patients, some of them have been referred by their GPs; it’s a busy clinic with a full range of cardiology related conditions.
I do ward rounds on Tuesday afternoons and do another ward round Thursday afternoons. I also spend time arranging tests for patients.
I also teach. I enjoy that and try to make it fun. On Fridays we have a two-hour journal clinic where cardiologists meet and talk about what is in medical journals and any complex cases we have.
I also spend a lot of time recruiting senior doctors. New Zealand struggles. The world is short of medical staff generally; I’m constantly recruiting people for Waikato and Thames hospitals.
It’s all about lifestyle, and we promote quality of the professional experience we can give and the collegial support we offer.
The atmosphere at the hospital is very good. From about when I arrived there has been a substantial degree of sub-specialisation.
Medical staff have doubled, if not tripled. We have a lot clinical nurse specialists now too, nurses who are specialising in their own right, working closely with medical staff.
We have a lot of highly skilled technicians. When the size expanded it changed from ‘the village’ as we knew it.
From the 1960s through to the 1980s we went from a village hospital to a tertiary hospital, in that 20 year period.
I came to the hospital in November 1982. When I first started here – we didn’t have cellphones or long-range pagers.
So if you were on-call you had to stay close to home. You didn’t even want to go out in the garden in case there was an emergency. I championed us getting telepagers.
You still get rung up at night, at 2am; and if there is a heart attack the team scrambles out of bed and we do an angioplasty. From the point they hit the hospital we aim to have them in surgery within 90 minutes, preferably 60 minutes.
We did our first coronary angioplasty in 1990. It was hugely significant. Since that time we have done about 19,000 patients across the region – 8000 for cardiac surgery and 11,000 for angioplasty.
Up until 1982, if you had a heart attack, your 10 year survival rate was 38 per cent. Today if you have a heart attack your survival rate at 10 years is 78 per cent. That’s up 40 per cent.
We’ve done 11,000 procedures in those 20 years, what that means is that there are 400 or so people walking around today at 10 years that wouldn’t have been.