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Engineer, voluntary assisted dying coordinator headline awards bill

Published:  04 July 2024

Townsville University Hospital’s chief engineer and the coordinator for voluntary assisted dying collected three major gongs at the Townsville Hospital and Health Service’s Staff Excellence Awards.

Chief engineer Mick Ward won the Vision award while voluntary assisted dying (VAD) coordinator Susanne Thornhill won both the Compassion and People’s Choice categories.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Jason Yates said the coordinator played a crucial role with VAD supporting patients and families at the end of a journey with terminal illness.

“Susanne is a passionate advocate for those she works with, and her compassion and commitment make a really stressful life stage much gentler.” 

Ms Thornhill said she was humbled by her success.

“Winning these awards is not about me,” she said.

“They’re really about the community and recognising that they can have a choice at the end of life about when they want to die, while doing it on their terms.”

Director facilities and integrated support services Scott Goddard said Mr Ward was

responsible for critical health infrastructure including more than 185 buildings across the health service valued at more than $1.7 billion.

“Mick’s engineering systems insight and leadership are both respected and highly sought after in professional and advisory capacities,” he said.

“His leadership sustained us through some significant high-risk challenges including Cyclones Debbie and Kirrily, the 2019 floods, and the pandemic.

“Mick also has a strong focus on increasing the workforce representation of First Nations peoples, women, and apprentices.”

Mr Ward said while he was delighted by the recognition, there was no ‘I’ in team.

“I really want to thank our whole building, engineering, and maintenance trade teams for work they do every day keeping our facilities ticking over,” he said.

Health service chief executive Kieran Keyes said the awards reflected the magnitude of dedication, compassion, and skill staff used every day in their jobs.

“The past 12 months have really challenged us with more pressure than ever before on the public health system,” he said.

“Across the board, our teams have risen to the challenge continuing to live our values and deliver for our communities.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be the chief executive of this health service.”

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