HealthWISE senior primary health care nurse Chris Connor was “blown away” to be honoured for 12 years of dedication to her role at the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN) 2023 Primary Care Quality and Innovation Awards on Friday, June 23.
“I feel very flattered because every day I get to do a role I love. I feel very privileged to be able to do that,” Chris said.
“I work with a brilliant team. I’ve got to say that we are so lucky to work for HealthWISE. HealthWISE is a really unique organisation. We wouldn’t be able to go and do what we do if we weren’t respected, if we weren’t trusted and we weren’t given the opportunity to go out and do it,” she said.
Chris has been nursing for almost 40 years. She feels privileged that her team is regularly welcomed into small communities, many struggling with the effects of fires, floods, drought and the pandemic.
Chris and her primary health care nursing team are often on the frontline, providing education and health checks to rural men and women who rarely visit the doctor.
“At Farmfest we spoke to a gentleman who hadn’t been to a doctor for 25 years – but he was happy to come and have a health check,” she said. Community members often return to tell the nurses they’ve taken their advice and had a bowel or breast screen, or visited their doctor.
The team has a strong camaraderie with other local services and organisations, and often work together to bring events and health education to rural communities. Since July 2022, the nurses have been involved in more than 30 events across the region, including lunches, pamper days and craft days.
The nursing team were also named as finalists for the First Nations Health Award, which was awarded to The Glen for Women and the Tamworth Aboriginal Medical Service Cardiac Rehab and Prevention program. The award acknowledges organisations that address health inequalities for First Nations communities.
“I’m very proud that the PHCN program has been nominated for their collaborative work with the local health district and HealthWISE Aboriginal Health team to increase breast screening rates for Aboriginal women,” HealthWISE chief executive officer Fiona Strang said.
Fiona was also a finalist for the Primary Care Leader Award, given for innovation and leadership in primary care, and demonstrating the values of ‘respect, innovation, accountability, integrity, cooperation, and recognition’. It was awarded to Donna Taylor of Pius X Aboriginal Corporation.
“Congratulations to all nominees. It’s wonderful to see the innovation occurring across the HNECC PHN region,” Fiona said.
“I am honoured and humbled by the nomination and thank HNECC PHN for supporting the Primary Care Awards,” she said.