July 15, 2022

‘Mrs Northern Health’ retires after 34 years of service

After a long career dedicated to Northern Health, Christine McGowan has decided the time has come to hang up her honorary scrubs.

If Northern Health were a person, with staff making up the body, then this lovely lady would have to be at the very heart and soul.

Known to many as ‘Mrs Northern Health’, Christine McGowan embodies the very essence of what it means to work at Northern Health. She is inclusive – bringing people together and inspiring them to work passionately and have fun while doing so. She is incredibly kind – her relationships with staff, volunteers, patients, and residents is testament to that. And in caring for everyone around her, Christine provides safety and comfort, not only in the quality of care she gives, but in making people feel heard and safe enough to be themselves.

Christine McGowan began her service at PANCH 34 years ago, where she worked on the switchboard. Once PANCH was relocated to the newly built hospital in Epping, the Northern became her new home.

During her time at Northern Health, Christine has taken on many roles, including a full time admin role in Social Work. During this time, she was instrumental in coordinating the volunteer driver service and Peer Support Program. This is where her passion for volunteer services was ignited.

Christine spent many years as the volunteer coordinator at Northern Hospital and then moved over to Bundoora Centre, which she fondly refers to as ‘Beccles’.

Henni Wade, Manager of Volunteer Services, says, “Her greatest love was our volunteers. Christine received so much joy from watching volunteers develop confidence in their abilities. Our volunteer program often takes on university students or migrants who are looking for a career in health, and Christine would be like a proud mother when they landed their first job! We have quite a number of staff who got their foot in the door from starting off as a volunteer. Christine has followed the careers of many of our volunteers.”

Patients at Ian Brand Residential Care will miss Christine’s regular visits. Prior to COVID-19 disrupting the volunteer program, Christine would organise school groups to visit and the children would sing songs, play games and chat with the residents.

“Some of the patients in Ian Brand are non-verbal and as soon as Christine walked in, no words were necessary, the smiles on patient’s faces said it all,” says Henni.

According to Christine, “The volunteers will always hold a special place in my heart – the interviews, the chats – just like a big family who care about each other and the health service, and who work hard to make a difference. That makes me very proud and gives me comfort and joy.”

Christine was also a big supporter of the work of the Northern Health Foundation and it was no effort for her to get up at 5 am to help set up for an event, as long as she had a coffee in hand. She helped organise fun-runs, golf-days, BBQs, Annual Dinners, and was a proud Work-Place Giving ambassador.

Pina Di Donato, Acting Executive Director, Public Affairs and Foundation, is extremely grateful for Christine’s contribution to Northern Health Foundation.

“There is something very special about Christine. She has the ability to make everyone feel welcome, from staff, to donors and patrons, and guests at our events. She remembers everyone by name and genuinely listens to people. She will be missed by many. Northern Health is certainly richer for having had Christine on staff. We wish her all the best for her retirement,” says Pina.

Featured image (left to right): Pina Di Donato, Acting Executive Director Public Affairs and Foundation; Christine McGowan; Henni Wade, Manager Volunteer Services; Natalie Carroll, Volunteer Coordinator.

Henni Wade, Natalie Carroll and Christine McGowan
Christine and Henni
Christine cutting her cake
Christine with some of our volunteers