‘The moment I realised the value of an orderly’: Porter boss departs Westmead after 30 years

Dave Horne walks the Westmead corridors with colleagues PJ (left) and Steve for the last time.

The head of Westmead Hospital’s orderlies department Dave Horne will set sail on his retirement today, after more than 30 years of supporting the facility.

Orderlies, also known as a porters, transport patients around hospitals, ensure wards are neat and tidy, lift and turn patients and transport them into wheelchairs and provide direct support to nursing and medical staff.

When asked about his longevity at the hospital, Dave reflected on a memorable encounter with a young patient that highlighted the value of an orderly’s role.

“When I first joined the hospital I had an experience that changed my life,” Dave said.

“It was a young lady whose life was at risk because she refused to have surgery performed.

“Her father was crying his eyes out and the nurse said ‘Dave I don’t know what we’re going to do, she has to have this surgery.’

Dave Horne was in charge of the orderlies department at Westmead Hospital.

“I convinced the patient to have the surgery, I even pushed her up to the operating theatre in her bed.

“That was when I realised that the portering role has a lot to offer the organisation. I wanted to build on this.”

Dave thanked the senior staff who allowed him to climb through the Westmead Hospital ranks.

“I had wonderful mentors in Adrian Bright, Paul Potts and Susan Shaw. They gave me the confidence to take on the many challenges I was about to face,” Dave said.

“I was set a big goal, to amalgamate the porters and wards people into one service, known today as orderlies. I’m pleased to say we have achieved this and we are one of the benchmark services in NSW.

“We developed the concept and implementation of the 24/7 bed cleaning service which is now used in other hospitals.

“We have also gotten the team out of the dark ages by going digital with their tasks instead of using paper notes.”

PJ and Steve with their former boss Dave.

Dave recognised his team for the achievements from over the years. “I’m not one for individual recognition – I may have led the team, but without the team I was nothing,” Dave said.

Westmead Hospital general manager Brett Thompson commended Dave on his first patient encounter, encouraging the young girl to proceed with surgery.

“Dave said ‘I’ll be here when you wake up’. That was enough to prompt the patient to have her surgery,” Brett said.

“True to his word, Dave was there when she woke up and she was very grateful. The surgery took many hours and he was very late leaving his shift that evening.

“This represents the start of a very compassionate and patient-first approach by Dave, that he continues until now.”

Westmead Hospital corporate services director Mathi Sakthivel acknowledged Dave’s contribution to the hospital.

“He is always energetic with motivation to make changes. His retirement from Westmead Hospital wasn’t an easy decision for him,” Mathi said.

Left to right: Senior orderlies Kevin Brown, PJ, Michael Baranowsky, Dave Horne, Greg Foster and Steve Morris.

“He is so connected to the hospital and didn’t want to depart. He is a good advocate for the orderly services and will be missed by many. I thank him for his contribution and the legacy he is leaving behind.

“We wish him a happy and healthy retirement for his next chapter of life.”

Dave has made many friends across the hospital, and will be remembered for his ‘tweetie bird’ ties.

The self-proclaimed hobbyist will spend his retirement building timber model sailing ships, picture framing, crafting large jigsaws and framing them.

“I thank all my friends and colleagues, I will miss you dearly,” Dave said.