Tūranga Health’s clinical manager Shirley Keown, can’t believe babies she cared for as a Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse are now having babies themselves.
“Gosh, is it that long? I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not?”.
This month Shirley, along with five colleagues, celebrates 20 years of service with Tūranga Health.
Shirley’s presence on the team is definitely a good thing, according to Tūranga Health chairman Pene Brown.
“We’ve benefited from her clinical authority and expertise in quality health practice. She’s been a leading light right from the start.”
Shirley joined Tūranga Health in 1999 to set up its Well Child Tamariki Ora programme with colleague Sonya Smith. Tūranga Health’s Well Child service now looks after nearly half of the 700 babies born in Gisborne every year.
Shirley didn’t plan on being a nurse. She entered the profession after a fortuitous cooking course placement in Hutt Hospital’s kitchen. Drawn more to caring than cooking she switched careers.
She worked at hospitals in Wellington, Auckland and Gisborne. Once at Tūranga Health she discovered a talent for project management.
In 2007 Shirley led the organisation to achieve its first accreditation. Accreditation is an intense process of auditing that sees Shirley – and the rest of the team – come under the microscope.
Shirley says that initial accreditation and the ones that followed strengthened the organisation and proved it to be a high-quality health provider.
“And for me it’s about what people are entitled to in health care. It doesn’t matter who or where they are - they should get the best service available.”
Shirley has been responsible for helping deliver other programmes at Tūranga Health including the disease state management service now called whānau ora community nursing.
These days she’s more likely to be facing a room of politicians than patients as she pulls together applications for projects and funding with the senior management team.
Behind the scenes Shirley has earned a degree in health science, a post-graduate diploma in disease state management, and a masters in health science. Right now, she’s working towards her PhD at University of Otago’s pharmacy school.
She’s an active member of the community, completed plenty of tough physical events, and with husband David has three children, and two mokopuna.
Looking back over the past 20 years Shirley is very proud of Tūranga Health’s achievements and cites the extensive relationships with the Health Safety and Quality Commission, primary industry, tertiary education facilities, and primary care organisations as examples of the high regard the organisation is now held in.
She has a typically low-key response to her own personal achievements. “I think it’s good to extend yourself and have the courage to give things a go. Do you really want to get to the end of your life and wish you had tried more things?”
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