February 10, 2015

'The way we deliver healthcare can bridge many chasms & contribute to a greater common good for community'

Madonna McGahan, Executive Director Mission Leadership, Mater Health Services Brisbane, shares from her ministerial experience on the World Day of the Sick 2015

Arriving at Mater Health Services Brisbane in 2008 into the role of Executive Director Mission Leadership felt a little like ‘coming home’. The foundation of my commitment to healthcare as a ministry and my appreciation of the Church’s mission as expressed in the healing ministry of Jesus, commenced in 1980 in nursing and later midwifery hospital based training undertaken at Mater Brisbane.

For the past 34 years I have been involved in Australian healthcare in some way. Roles have been varied and encompassed clinical, administrative, executive, policy, planning, project management, research, strategic, governance, management, leadership, and direct service delivery. Settings have covered urban and rural, hospitals, aged care, sub acute, and health systems, in government and non government, and not for profit organisations including several Catholic healthcare organisations. Along the way, professional development, graduate and post graduate studies interspersed these work commitments. Each shaped me in enabling me to ‘fit’ into my current role.

A leadership role in Mission within Catholic healthcare seems to me to be something of a privileged position. Daily I am witness to people facing some of the most challenging and life changing events imaginable as they seek healthcare. I am privileged to work alongside people with deep commitment, compassion and expertise responding to the needs of people who are seeking care.

The role of mission leader at Mater has responsibility for working alongside all executive and Mater People to integrate mission throughout and within the organisation. Operationally this role is responsible for several departments and services including: pastoral care, cultural diversity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison, archives and heritage, and clinical ethics. In this role we seek opportunities to engage with communities to respond to those most disadvantaged through community benefit programs; at Mater our community benefit is we focused on working with other community organisations to provide healthcare for those who are homeless, who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, refugees, and those who are financially disadvantaged.

As leaders we can help support and nurture the values that each Mater person holds within, through both strategy and operations. Our leadership and management decision making can help translate those values into behaviours that underpin Mater’s aspiration to deliver on its mission through person-centred and gospel values inspired health services, education and research.

On this 2015 World Day of the Sick, like many in Catholic healthcare, I reflect on the brutality of this world at times, so often played out daily within our community in the breakdown of human relationships and related healthcare challenges. Despite the small part Mater as an individual organisation may be playing, the way we deliver healthcare can bridge many chasms and contribute to a greater common good for community. By bringing hope, our Catholic ethic, our spirituality, our consistent ethic for life, and care for the most marginalised, we can respond in a way that is not unlike and indeed motivated by the responses that are evident in the founding gospel stories, those of the good Samaritan or of Jesus and their encounters with their fellow human persons.

If we are changing the world locally through each encounter of healing presence with our employees, volunteers, patients and their families, and community, then we are contributing to changing the world around us. The privilege of being a part of this is the deeper meaning it brings to each of us as individuals in our personal and professional lives.

Messages to: Madonna McGahan

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