Recognising the tireless work of western Sydney’s Allied Health professionals

Westmead Hospital Physiotherapist Hariette Esterman. Photo taken before mask requirements in hospitals.

Ten Allied Health professionals have been recognised for their hard work and dedication in the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Allied Health Professions Day Awards.

These awards are presented yearly on Allied Health Professions Day to celebrate and mark the accomplishments and that the Allied Health team provide to the healthcare system.

The Allied Health workforce in WSLHD comprises of 1,400 clinicians from over 23 disciplines.

From physiotherapy to genetic counselling, the Allied Health workforce delivers high quality, patient-centred clinical care that improves the health and well-being of the people of western Sydney.

Senior speech pathologist Athena Chan has been working at the district for three years and said her time here has been extremely rewarding.

“As a speech pathologist, you work with a wide range of children who have varying communication and swallowing disorders and to watch them gain confidence and improve is something that I love,” Athena said.

“The Child and Family Health team are so driven to improve the client health and patient outcomes of children in western Sydney.”

Athena won the Emerging Leader award after bringing a never-ending positivity to her role, always providing high-quality speech pathology services to the community.

This peer-nominated award highlights a lead-by example approach to a senior role which Athena said she was extremely humbled to win

“I feel very special to have won such a lovely award. My team really keep me motivated to come to work every day. Their constant hard work continually amazes me,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without their hard work and the support from the awesome executive team. Allied Health are the hidden heroes of the hospital, and I am honoured to walk alongside such a great team.”

Award winners Athena Chan and Lisa-Coaster Garton

Also among the award winners is senior social worker Lisa -Coaster Garton who received the Closest Hero award.

Throughout her six years at Blacktown Hospital, she has supported many patients and families through end-of-life care, primarily working in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Lisa is currently coordinating the department’s COVID-19 Social Work Service, where she provides support, consultation and guidance patients transitioning from the COVID ward to community care.

She said both roles are extremely rewarding, allowing her to connect with a diverse range of patients.

“I truly love the work that I do, and although sad and challenging at times, being able to support patients and family in their journey out of life is an honour. I feel great privileged that people trust me, open up to me, and lean on me for support,” Lisa said.

Lisa’s award acknowledges a staff member who has saved the day but has not been recognised.

“I am extremely proud of my team and how they have stepped up during these challenging COVID times. I could not have achieved what I have without them,” she refelcted.

Other awards included:

  • Research Award: Dragana Ceprnja, Senior Physiotherapist, Westmead Hospital
  • Profession Leader Award: Amber Shearer, Acting Head of Occupational Therapy Department, Westmead Hospital
  • Emerging Executive Leader Award: Katherine Maka, WSLHD Deputy Disaster Controller and Head of Westmead Hospital Physiotherapy Department
  • Education Award: Peter Rizkallah, Physiotherapy Inpatient Student Educator, Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Responsiveness Award: Cameron Edwards, Physiotherapist, Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals
  • Hallmark Positivity Award: Alison Middleton, Acting Senior Occupational Therapist, Child and Family Health, ICH
  • COVID Hair Award: Amanda Leach, Occupational Therapist Assistant, Westmead Hospital
  • Top Chef Award: Victoria Silvestro, Chronic & Complex Care Dietitian, ICH

WSLHD Allied Health director Jacqueline Dominish said she was incredibly proud of the amazing Allied Health teams across the district.

“The diversity of the Allied Health professions is our absolute strength, and we’re strongly aligned not only to each other but our colleagues in medicine, nursing and midwifery, and most importantly our patients, consumers and their families,” Jacqueline said

“COVID-19 has really highlighted the tireless work of the Allied Health department. We have had Allied Health clinicians treating and supporting the recovery of COVID-19 patients, pharmacists providing specialist advice and clinical reviews and we have trained staff to assist with COVID-19 vaccination rollout – whilst still doing our regular duties!

“I am honoured to lead a team of dedicated health professionals who provide individualised quality and safe patient care, with pride, compassion, empathy and integrity.”

October 14 is International Allied Health Professions Day, an annual celebration of the range of specialised health professionals who provide therapeutic and diagnostic services.

To find out more about Allied Health Professions Day, click here.

Click here to see a list of Allied Health Services available in western Sydney.