From junior doctor to ‘dinosaur’ surgeon: Prof steps down after 41 years at Auburn

Auburn Hospital surgeon Geoff Brooke-Cowden was formally thanked by Western Sydney Local Health District today for his four decades of service.

After 41 years at Auburn Hospital, Professor Geoff Brooke-Cowden is retiring from clinical work – but he’s not ready to say goodbye yet.

Geoff joined the hospital as a junior surgeon in 1978 and within five years worked his way up to become senior surgeon.

Over the years he has held many senior roles at Auburn Hospital, including executive medical director and Medical Staff Council chairman.

He was also a founding professor of the University of Notre Dame School of Medicine and former mayor of Baulkham Hills Shire among many significant roles and achievements.

WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy, surgeon Dr Lynne Mann, Auburn Hospital deputy director medical services Dr Mary Boyd Turner, Prof Geoff Brooke-Cowden, Auburn Hospital director nursing and midwifery Kate Murphy, and Westmead and Auburn Hospitals general manager Brett Thompson.

At 75, Geoff has decided to retire from clinical work and focus on his other great love of teaching, at Auburn Hospital clinical school two days a week and University of Notre Dame one day.

“I will miss the interaction with staff at all levels and patients. Retiring is bittersweet, there is a lot of sadness but a whole plethora of good memories,” Geoff said.

“I feel like a dinosaur now but I am fortunate to have lived through the most amazing and rapid era of advances in medicine the world has ever seen.

“I retire from surgery with absolute confidence the profession is in good hands.”

Who better to slice the farewell cake than the master surgeon himself?

Geoff was motivated throughout his clinical career by a mission to bring the highest standard of care to the disadvantaged and multilingual community of Auburn.

His proudest achievement was helping to save Auburn Hospital in the late 1990s, which in turn led to him having significant involvement in the planning of the new hospital building opened in 2009.

He is also proud of the hospital’s high volume, short stay elective surgery pilot program, which became the model for other hospitals and produced the “gold standard” clinical pathways.

“I could not have achieved anything without the confidence and support of my colleagues in medicine, nursing and paramedical,” Geoff said.

“A hospital is just a pile of bricks with equipment thrown in. The doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, orderlies; they are the lifeblood.”