Re­tir­ing health ex­ec­u­tive had ma­jor im­pact on sec­tor

Bush Telegraph - - Front Page - By DAVE MUR­DOCH

While most lo­cals will re­mem­ber Sharon Wards, un­til last month CEO of the Tararua Health Group, as the woman who cre­ated Dan­nevirke’s Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal, it was clear at her farewell on Tues­day that Sharon’s im­pact on the health sec­tor was much wider.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from many health groups swelled the group of lo­cals to more than 40 to record their thanks and de­scribe how they were in­flu­enced by Sharon’s in­fec­tious en­thu­si­asm, drive, wis­dom, loud laugh and com­mit­ment in pro­mot­ing ru­ral health.

THG Board di­rec­tor Mur­ray Pringle summed up Sharon’s ac­tions in bring­ing about the THG as “trail blaz­ing, en­tre­pre­neur­ial stuff,” at­tribut­ing her suc­cess to her com­pas­sion for peo­ple, pas­sion for the health sec­tor and ded­i­ca­tion to staff, cus­tomers and stake hold­ers.

Mark Wills, a new part­ner in the THG who worked with Sharon as the or­gan­i­sa­tion de­vel­oped, de­scribed her as “an awe­some flag-bearer of the THG as its CEO”. He said he was help­ing take the or­gan­i­sa­tion on its next step “but it was al­ready in great heart”.

Doc­tors Brian Quick, Tom Gib­son and Sam Wilson all spoke about the cre­ation of the THG. Brian said it was an en­joy­able ad­ven­ture and left a legacy.

“It is a sign of do­ing some­thing well that you can walk away and it con­tin­ues on without you,” Tom said.

Mark Ea­ger, CEO of the Sur­gi­cal Bus de­scribed the unique wel­come it re­ceived when it first ar­rived in Dan­nevirke and the pro­vi­sion of Sharon’s culi­nary ex­per­tise called Snack­adoo­dles.

Bruce Ste­wart and Chiq­uita Hansen of the Mid Cen­tral Health PHO spoke of the THG as a model for other groups to fol­low in pro­mot­ing in­te­grated pri­mary health care.

They pre­sented Sharon with a heartshaped pounamu to re­flect her love of peo­ple, sim­i­lar to the gift pre­sented to Sharon by her staff at their farewell June 27.

Michelle Thomp­son of the Ru­ral Health Al­liance Aotearoa NZ thanked Sharon for “be­ing a trooper for decades try­ing to ed­u­cate those in the city to the health needs of ru­ral ar­eas”.

Sharon in re­ply said she found the farewell ex­pe­ri­ence “very hum­bling”.

She said be­ing the boss of more than 400 peo­ple in her time was very re­ward­ing.

She told the group that al­though the job has had huge chal­lenges, es­pe­cially in the last six months.

“There have been a heck of a lot more good times than bad.”

She said she was heart­ened by the com­ments from speak­ers about her im­pact na­tion­ally in the health sec­tor.

“Some­times you feel you are a small peb­ble in a big pond,” she said.

She thanked her col­leagues, sin­gling out each with a de­scrip­tion of how they had helped her over 21 years.

“Ev­ery per­son has unique­ness,” she said. “They have had a huge im­pact on me.”

Mayor Tracey Col­lis thanked Sharon say­ing her speech “had made ev­ery­one feel spe­cial”.

Sharon is look­ing for new op­por­tu­ni­ties which she hopes will in­volve ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, health and well-be­ing.

She quoted a motto which has guided her think­ing over her ca­reer: “One day? Or Day one?”

Mark Wills, new part­ner in the Tararua Health Group, presents de­part­ing CEO Sharon Wards with a bou­quet.

Dr Brian Quick speaks about the jour­ney cre­at­ing the THG.

Bruce Ste­wart, chair­man of the Mid Cen­tral Health Board, presents Sharon Wards with a pounamu.

Sharon wear­ing both pounamu gifts, re­flects on her 21 years of ser­vice.

Sharon was piped into the venue at the Tararua Busi­ness Hub.

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