Champion of the people passes

He was the man who entered Blacktown Hospital as a patient, and became one of its fiercest advocates.

Greg Long – a foundation member of the WSLHD Consumer Council – spent, in his own words, much of 2007 “taken up with chemo and radiotherapy, major surgery and mop-up chemo”.

Greg Long
Greg Long

His experience at Blacktown Hospital, in the hands of “caring, dedicated, professional, cheerful people”, changed his life … and because of his experience, the lives of many who have been patients at WSLHD hospitals since.

Mr Long died on Tuesday after a life that helped transform the way WSLHD works with its community.

WSLHD Community and Consumer Partnerships manager, Dr Coralie Wales described him as “a beloved consumer representative champion”.

“His ability to consider issues and bring balance and depth to the discussions around the table at council meetings over the last two years revealed him to be a kind, gentle and intelligent man,” she said.

“He could think in new ways while accessing the wisdom that comes with experience.

“He was a driving force in the way the council operates today.

“I will miss him very much.”

Mr Long was treated for bowel cancer in Blacktown Hospital’s Professor Peter Zelas.

Prof Zelas – a man Mr Long regarded as both “kind and compassionate” and was “fortunate” to be treated by – asked Mr Long to set up and chair the Blacktown Mount Druitt Cancer Patients and Carers’ Support Group.

“I was happy to get involved,” Mr Long later said.

He proved to be a vital connection between aspiring clinicians and the patient experience.

“On a few occasions, I sat down with medical students to tell them about my journey with cancer, to remind them of the very human aspect of a cancer sufferer,” he once said.

Mr Long ultimately joined “nine or more” committees, mostly involved in the refurbishment of the old building at Blacktown Hospital, but also in the building of Stage 2.

He admitted he had to “sit down and think hard about how to manage my time, to fit some of these in”, but never regarded his commitment to the hospital as a chore.

“I have become so involved in the past couple of years, that I now consider Blacktown to be “my hospital,” and have thoroughly enjoyed all the involvement,” he said.

Dr Coralie Wales said Mr Long would always be remembered.

“He will be sadly missed by members of the WSLHD Consumer Council and by our staff who knew and respected him,” she said.