November 3, 2023

Get to know: Jennifer Gilham


Meet Jennifer Gilham, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Kilmore District Health.

Many of us at Northern Health have had the privilege of getting to know Jennifer over the past year as we worked towards the voluntary amalgamation of our two health services. However, as you will see, Jennifer’s relationship with Northern Health goes back much further than that.

Jennifer stepped into the role of Interim CEO at Kilmore District Health in February 2023. Her leadership throughout the voluntary amalgamation process has been instrumental in shaping what a better-connected health service could look like.

Q: Jennifer, let’s start with one of life’s most pertinent questions. What is your usual coffee order?

A: Mocha… chocolate is (one of) my weaknesses. If I could add it to everything, I would!

I only started drinking coffee when I began working at Northern Health in 2015, as I found this was a great way to meet others and get to know the Northern Health team.

Q: Tell us about your career journey so far. Have you always wanted to work in healthcare?

A: I studied nursing as a mature-aged student after I had my children. I had wanted to be a nurse since I was about 10 years old, when I would go into the nursing home to visit my grandmother.  The nurses were always so kind and caring. The nurses who cared for me when I had my children, inspired me to follow my dream of becoming a nurse. Two in particular, became my personal and professional mentors, and I still consider them to be great friends.

I started my nursing career as an enrolled nurse at Beechworth. I completed a Bachelor of Nursing and then my graduate year at Seymour Health. I then undertook post graduate certificates in Rural and Report Health and Health Service Management. I commenced working at Northern Health in the Emergency Department and then as Short Stay Unit NUM, and Operations Director, before commencing at Kilmore District Health in 2018 as the Director of Clinical and Aged Care Services.

Q: Tell us about the work culture at Kilmore, and how you see this aligning with the culture at Northern Health.

A: One thing that stands out to me, having worked with both Kilmore Health and Northern Health teams, is the ‘can do’ attitude of both teams. If there is something that is going to improve services or patient care, staff are keen to give it a go and are always looking at how they can do things differently to support better outcomes for patients, resident and consumers.

What is your vision for the future of Kilmore District Hospital?

A: That Kilmore District Hospital continues to provide safe and quality care and expands its current services and streamlines access to healthcare for our community.

Q: What is your connection to the local community?

A: I was born at Seymour Hospital and have lived in Seymour for most of my life. My children attended school in Kilmore. I am also involved in a number of local community and sporting groups. I am very passionate about advocating to ensure that rural and regional communities have equitable access to high quality health care services and to be able to access care close to home where possible.

Q: How will the amalgamation benefit staff both at Kilmore and at Northern Health?

A: I believe that being connected will provide different and varied opportunities for staff to work in different settings. It will provide opportunities to learn different skills in areas that that they may not have had the opportunity, such as HRO, CLEO, Public Relations, Northern Health Foundation, Decision Support, but also with opportunities for STEP programs, post graduate studies and research. There are lots of exciting opportunities that will be opened up to staff.

Q: What do you like to do when you are not working?

A: When I am not working, I like to spend time with family and friends, walk our dog, play golf, eating out!

Q: What is your favourite holiday destination?

A: Sorry, can’t choose one….

  • Bali for relaxing
  • New Zealand – to visit my daughter who lives in Dunedin
  • Anywhere by the beach!

Q: What is something that most people would not know about you?

A: I am a little bit of an adrenaline junkie, I recently went paragliding at Bright!

Q: Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to staff at Kilmore?

A: It has been an honour for me to lead Kilmore District Health over the past year. This year has brought about a lot of change, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their hard work, their support, their patience and participation throughout this process.

I am so proud of our health service and everyone who works at Kilmore, and the community we serve. I am excited to see what the future brings.