WINNERS’ LIST: WSLHD Allied Health Awards celebrate excellence in patient care

With over 1420 staff across 22 Allied Health professions, Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Allied Health Awards were recently held to recognise the outstanding contributions of Allied Health professionals to the district’s community.

The winners of the awards demonstrated excellence in their respective fields and made significant contributions to the health and well-being of the people of western Sydney.

Luke Taylor, Acting District Director of Allied Health addressed the crowd, which included WSLHD Chief Executive, Graeme Loy, a number of district executives, and the stars of the event: the Allied Health professionals.

“The District’s Allied Health Awards were very competitive this year, with 256 nominations from a wide range of people, including Allied Health staff, Nursing, Medical, other hospital employees, patients, and carers.”

“The fact that 73 nominations came from non-Allied Health staff is a testament to the high regard that our Allied Health professionals are held in by the entire community.”

Here are the winners who were recognised for their passion, inspiration, and dedication in delivering patient-centred care.

Allied Health Assistant of the Year presented by Director of People & Culture, Nicole Grice.

Winner: Jemma Corsiatto

Jemma, an Allied Health Assistant at Westmead Hospital, consistently provides extraordinary and quality support for patients, other Allied Health Professionals and Allied Health services. She is an integral member of the multidisciplinary Allied Health team in the sub-acute rehabilitation ward, and has upskilled in various clinical areas, providing excellent high-quality care to complex long-stay patients across different services including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology. Her innovation and her dedicated approach to improving patient care has seen her establish a Wellness Group in the rehab setting, which has increased therapy time, reduced length of stay and improved morale of her patients.

Early Career Allied Health Professional of the Year presented by Executive Director of Medical Services, Bec Nogajski.

Winner: Allaha Siddiqi

Allaha is a Social Worker at Auburn Hospital who demonstrates passion and commitment to the provision of quality, safe and compassionate care to patients in the Antenatal Clinic. She has worked on many quality improvement projects such as developing bereavement packs for women and their families who experience pregnancy loss, streamlining the process of destitute funerals and received a Volunteer Wishlist grant to provide items to occupy patients and their children while important assessments such as domestic violence and child protection are completed. Patients have provided feedback, expressing their gratitude for Allaha, describing this clinician as ‘truly inspiring’. Her emerging leadership skills can be seen through her ability to lift team morale within the Social Work department, and contribute to creating a positive culture across the hospital. She is someone who is full of life and brings joy to the department.

Allied Health Educator of the Year presented by Director of Nursing & Midwifery, Maria Lingam.

Winner: Cherry Agustin

Cherry, Radiation Therapy Educator at Westmead Hospital, has created an education program and methods of delivery to accommodate the needs of staff at both Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals, and also those who participate from home using teleconferencing facilities which were expanded during COVID-19. Cherry’s efforts have ensured that students nationally are aware of the supportive education program provided at Westmead Hospital. Due to her work, there has been an increase in the Masters student intake from Monash University, with additional requests from interstate universities to accommodate undergraduate and honours students, and acknowledgement from the University of Newcastle regarding the quality of our educational program and fair assessment processes. She was instrumental in creating a “planning bootcamp” for Radiation Oncology trainees and registrars, and was the first Radiation Therapist invited to be on the editorial board of the prestigious Journal of Medical imaging and Radiation Oncology (JMIRO). Cherry was awarded the Nicholas Outterside Medallion from the Australian Institute of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy in 2023 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the education of Radiation Therapists nationally.

Allied Health Researcher of the Year presented by Professor of Allied Health, Leanne Togher.

Winner: Dr Traci-Anne Goyen

Traci is an Occupational Therapist in the Westmead Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. With a total of 19 published papers, including in international peer-reviewed journals, and 736 citations, as well as grant funding of $304,294 received, she has an h-index of 10 (Scopus, accessed 13 October 2023). Her Field Weighted Citation Impact is 1.12, indicating that she has been cited 12% more than the global average for similar publications. She is currently leading a project to build a team of national and international investigators to extend her pilot RCT into a large multi-centered trial for reducing brain injury in preterm babies, and is committed to supporting those around her to upskill and become involved in research. Under her leadership and mentorship, one of the research nurses is currently undertaking PhD and one undertaking Masters education.

Allied Health Professional of the Year presented by Executive Director of Operations, Alison Derrett.

Winner: Kim Hobbs

Kim has been valued member of the Social Work Department at Westmead Hospital for over 30 years, working extensively within gynae-oncology area. She has an open-door approach to her practice and regularly collaborates with all colleagues. Kim’s knowledge, skill set, kind nature and non-judgmental support makes her a go-to person for clinical guidance for Social Workers and other members of the multidisciplinary team. She proactively represents the patient and Social Work perspective at state, national and international levels, working with multiple peak cancer organisations, and has a strong focus on educating new staff members and students and contributing back to WSLHD and NSW Health. More recently Kim has become a facilitator in the Schwartz Rounds, allowing staff to openly and honestly discuss the social and emotional issues they face in caring for patients and families. Kim has also published several research papers over in her specialist area of Gynaecological Cancer.

Aboriginal Allied Health Professional of the Year presented by Chief Executive, Graeme Loy.

Winner: Gemma Carter

Gemma is a proud Dharug and Darkinjung woman from the Hawkesbury and Wollimbi River regions, working as a counsellor and Aboriginal counsellor in Mental Health. She uses a culturally safe, trauma informed approach in partnership with Aboriginal community and Department of Community and Justice, supporting complex and vulnerable families where parents are experiencing mental health and/or drug and alcohol challenges with identified child protection concerns. This has assisted to create functional family environments so that children can safely remain in their homes, reducing the number of children especially Aboriginal children in statutory out of home care. She volunteers as a facilitator of Peri-natal family conferencing, and supports women in pregnancy who have a significant risk of harm for unborn babies, to reduce the number of infants taken into care. She focuses on strengths and engages the families in problem solving and care planning to address concerns. Gemma continues to be a role model for her community demonstrating that you can be a mother and have a career.

Allied Health Leader of the Year presented by Chief Executive, Graeme Loy.

Winner: Caroline Cusack

As the acting Department Head of Dietetics at Blacktown Hospital, Caroline has consistently strengthened professional relationships with the indirect report Dietitians across Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals. She strives to ensure that the Dietetics team continues to flourish in clinical excellence and leadership, and has developed a collaborative network of Dietitians across the district in which knowledge and skills are shared, which enhances patient care. Caroline makes time on a regular basis to speak to her staff one to one, ensuring all staff feel valued and their feedback can be heard. She shows genuine care for her staff’s wellbeing, and is responsible for implementing a quality improvement lead within the department to ensure quality activities are screened for relevance and are adequately supported. This has been backed up with the initiation of regular ‘catch-up’ sessions together with the quality lead regarding the progress of projects. She also actively encourages staff involvement in research.