CANBERRA Health Services chief executive Bernadette McDonald resigned this morning (May 24) after less than three years in the role.
In a message to her colleagues, Ms McDonald, who took on the role in late 2018, said she would be leaving Canberra and returning to her family in Melbourne.
“As many of you would know, the past year has been particularly tough for me, not only dealing with the uncertainty and anxiety of the pandemic, but also having to spend large periods of time apart from my husband and children,” said Ms McDonald.
“At one stage we were apart for eight months due to travel restrictions and my work in a high risk setting.”
Ms McDonald stepped into the job as interim CEO after the public health system had come under intense scrutiny in regards to its workplace culture, leading ACT Health to split into two organisations in early 2018.
However, she was not the organisation’s first choice and took on the position after the initial interim CEO, Janet Anderson, quit three days after the organisation appointed her to the role.
Ms McDonald, who will stay in the role until the end of July, described leading Canberra Health Service as a career highlight.
“There are many things that I will be proud of… however, I am most proud of how so many of you are now standing up and leading in a very strong way, which was not always the case when I arrived in 2018,” Ms McDonald said.
In thanking Ms McDonald for her service, ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith described her as an “outstanding leader”.
“From the outset, Bernadette worked to create an organisation with a clear vision, strong values and a strategic plan focused on patients and staff,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“Bernadette has shown compassion and dedication as she led cultural and structural change across the organisation, she has played a key role in major projects including the Canberra Hospital Expansion, Digital Health Record and implementation of the culture review.”
Ms McDonald’s commitment to Canberra’s COVID-19 response was also praised.
“Her calm and unwavering leadership of the clinical response to COVID-19 has been invaluable for staff and the entire Canberra community,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
An interim CEO will be announced soon.
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