March 24, 2020

Get to know…Robyn Johnson

In this month’s Get to know: Q&A with…we catch up with Robyn Johnson, Reception Services Manager at Bundoora Centre.

  • What is your coffee order?

I very rarely buy coffee, but when I do it’s a skinny latte.

  • What does a typical work day look for you?

I’m up with the birds early to start work at 7.30 am, and although my day is predictable with some tasks, working on the front desk always throws up curly questions and mysteries to solve.

Although my primary responsibility is to answer the calls into the switchboard, this can often be like playing detective. As a lot of our callers often ring without knowing who they wish to speak to, or what program or service they require, it takes quite some time and a lot of patience to be able to actually direct the caller to the correct person or area.

As a lot of our callers are older and have difficulty with technology, this can be a real challenge. The visitors also require lots of help, often only knowing a patient’s first name and where they live. I am always happy to see our patients get to the right person quickly and I am glad I can help the Bundoora community that way.

The staff are also our customers, and I like to help them as much as possible in accessing cars to do home visits and generally just making life easier for them to provide their service to our patient’s and their families. When I finish my shift at 3 pm, I usually then head off to visit my Mum, go to the gym etc. and finish the day watching mindless TV or ABC/SBS on demand.

  • Tell us about your Northern Health journey.

It started a while ago now, before Northern Health or any other network existed! I was a return to work single mum and through a ‘friend’ of a ‘friend’ was offered a casual position on the BECC switchboard/reception. I was terrified when I started as all I knew of switchboards was from the movies and it all looked a bit scary to me.

But I survived and soon was offered the role of Manager, which I was very grateful for the regular wage. A couple of years after, I started helping the Admitting Officer and Geriatrician with bed management and eventually I was responsible for this with consultation with the doctors.

I did this for about eight years and worked with some amazing Registrars who I saw ‘grow up’ and become wonderful Geriatricians, and as well  I built up good professional and social relationships with the discharge planning coordinators at Northern Hospital. From then my role has continued to change and grow, and I have had my finger in a few pies, including a stint covering DVA Liaison. Currently, I sit on the OH&S Committee, am a member of the Emergency Response Team and sit on the Emergency Management Committee and now I also assist with the day to day support services delivery.

This year will be my 25th Anniversary of working at Bundoora Centre, which is amazing as when I started I couldn’t even see myself as reaching any long service leave.

  • Can you tell us a bit about your career before starting at Northern?

I was a stay at home mum for quite some time surviving being a mother of four with a husband who worked long hours, and children who were very active after school and at weekends. Before that I worked at the Austin, mostly in the Spinal Unit, Paraquad Association and prior to that my graduate year at Bendigo Base Hospital.

  • What is your greatest achievement or favourite memory since working here?

The fact that I’m still here is an achievement in many different ways , and also the team I work in still has original members and we are very supportive. Some of our BECC Christmas and retirement parties used to be good fun but unfortunately I started soon after the demise of the Friday afternoon happy hour!

  • What are some things people don’t know about you?

In my previous life I was a Physio. I mostly worked at the Austin in the Spinal Unit Gym which I really enjoyed.

  • What do you like to do after work?

After work I like going to the gym, I’m working very hard on postponing the effects of ageing! When patients younger than myself started arriving at Bundoora Centre for the Falls Clinic, Dementia Clinic etc, I decided I’d better start being very serious about staying strong and fit. I also like to read, garden, quilt, go to the movies, football and spend time with friends, my kids and grandchildren.

  • Do you have a bucket list item? Something you would love to do?

I would like to do more travelling around Australia, particularly in the Outback and hopefully when I eventually retire I would like to think that I could disappear off into the horizon in a 4WD campervan. In the meantime I would also like to go to India, Myanmar and Morocco.

  • How would you describe Northern Health in one sentence?

Northern Health reminds me of a fast growing teenager – as soon as you buy them a pair of shoes they have outgrown them! It’s evolving and changing all the time.

  • Who would you nominate next for a staff profile and why?

I would like to nominate John Davies from the Pastoral Care Team. John has had a typical Northern Health journey, but also has an interesting life outside of work. To me, he always seems so serene and calming, until that sense of humour escapes!