A LIFETIME OF SERVICE: Jean Williams and former Barcaldine Hospital board manager Lionel Walsh.
A LIFETIME OF SERVICE: Jean Williams and former Barcaldine Hospital board manager Lionel Walsh. Contributed

Lifetime of service honoured

LATE last month former Alpha Hospital matron Jean Williams was given the honour of a lifetime.

Her nearly 20 years of dedicated service and commitment to the community of Alpha was recognised on April 26 with the naming of a room in her honour in the new $17.5million Alpha Multipurpose Health Service that opened in June 2016.

Mrs Williams said she was "blown away” when she found out and wanted to thank the community for the recognition and honour.

"I am both humbled and honoured,” she said.

"The biggest thing for me at the old Alpha Hospital was the support of staff and the whole community.

"There really is no success without good support like that.

"Everyone who came in through the hospital door was not just a patient but a friend and neighbour.”

Central West Hospital and Health Board chair Jane Williams said Mrs Williams, who is her mother-in-law, worked hard and determinedly for the community of Alpha.

"When Jean retired in 1993 and I took her place for the next 10 years as matron, or director of nursing as the position became known, my own tenure was made easier in the earlier years thanks to the very strong foundations Jean had laid,” she said.

"As such, I was very pleased to receive a submission to the board from the Alpha Community Advisory Network to name the meeting room in the new Multipurpose Health Service the Jean Williams Community Meeting Room.”

Ms Williams said the submission had been accepted by the board and approved by Health Minister Steven Miles.

"It's a great honour for Jean and one well-deserved,” she said.

"It shows how much the community recognised and appreciated the work Jean did over the years to turn the old hospital into a model rural health service.”

When Mrs Williams first started work at the old Alpha Hospital in May 1975, a dog named Wagglebum used to wander the wards and corridors.

By the time she formally took over as matron in 1976, the dog had gone and Mrs Williams had made a good start in turning around the fortunes of the previously down-at-heel hospital.

A significant funding allocation by the old hospital board in 1977 kicked off the first of several upgrades to the hospital over the years, with Mrs Williams helping lead the push for further improvements.

"Something always comes from nothing when people come together with a goal, a need and a vision,” she said.

"From there it takes a community of individuals to achieve it.

"Rural health is at its heart for the people by the people.

"It is the essence of rural sustainability.”

Even after retiring as matron in 1993, Mrs Williams continued to be involved in health care in Alpha for another 15 years with the Home and Community Care service.

"It's been quite a journey over the years and I've loved every minute of it,” she said.

"I am honoured and moved by this dedication and share it with those who I have worked with and for the community support, which continues to this day.”

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