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New regional director Rachele Ferrari to oversee Midwest COVID preparation, hospital redevelopments

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
WA Country Health Service Midwest regional director Rachele Ferrari
Camera IconWA Country Health Service Midwest regional director Rachele Ferrari Credit: Picture: Phoebe Pin

The new head of the Mid West’s public health service has wasted no time getting to work, overseeing the opening of a residential aged care facility, the care of miracle girl Cleo Smith, a COVID vaccine blitz and the expansion of the local hospital’s maternity services in less than a month.

Recently appointed WA Country Health Service Midwest regional director Rachele Ferrari arrived in Geraldton three weeks ago on the back of a two-year stint in the Wheatbelt.

With a background in podiatry, she also has experience in leading COVID preparation at high-risk sites like Southern Cross.

Ms Ferrari is no stranger to regional WA and oversaw the opening of the expanded Wangkatjungka Health Centre and new renal hostel facilities while working in Derby and Fitzroy Crossing.

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The Mid West health industry faces the same workforce pressures experienced across the State but Ms Ferrari said some media reports about local staffing levels were not correct.

“Recent media reports claiming Geraldton Health Campus is down 40 FTE simply aren’t accurate,” she said.

Ms Ferrari said any clinical vacancy was, or would be, backfilled while strategies to address gaps long-term were rolled out.

“I’m excited that we’ve already made progress in this space, including permanent appointment to the position of nurse manager in Meekatharra,” she said.

There are a lot of really exciting redevelopments that will deliver the community fantastic, modern health services that will meet their needs.

“Midwest figures were 54 per cent (of the region’s population) fully dosed as of November 7, and 71 per cent single dosed,” she said.

“We will be working with other health providers to ensure that we are able to meet our target so we are as safe as we can be as we prepare for borders opening.”

Ms Ferrari recently oversaw the opening of Carnarvon’s new Gnullingoo Mia residential care facility and said Midwest locals could also look forward to hospital upgrades in Geraldton, Mullewa, Dongara and Meekatharra.

“There are a lot of really exciting redevelopments that will deliver the community fantastic, modern health services that will meet their needs,” she said.

Ms Ferrari said supporting the needs of the health workforce was equally important as patient care, especially when staff were confronted with events like the search and eventual rescue of four-year-old alleged kidnapping victim Cleo.

WACHS sent psychological first aid teams to further support staff in the Midwest during the first week of the search to Carnarvon Hospital staff, many of whom knew Cleo’s family or had been involved in looking for the little girl.

Ms Ferrari said hospital staff were “joyful and elated and amazed” when Cleo arrived for a check-up after her rescue.

“We had the amazing news last week that she was found so I did go back to Carnarvon the following day because I wanted to be with the team and thank them for their extraordinary work” she said.

“In three weeks I’ve been here there have been lots of reasons for staff to make me really proud of our entire workforce.”

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