It is with great sadness we received the news that Chair of the Mackay Hospital and Health Board Tim Mulherin passed away this morning.
He continued his duties as the Board Chair until the end, providing leadership and strategic direction for our health service.
Providing Mackay with a first-class hospital and health care was Tim’s passion long before he was appointed Board Chair in 2016.
In his maiden speech to State Parliament in 1995 he highlighted the need for a redeveloped hospital and the establishment of medical training in north Queensland saying “I am committed to ensuring that Mackay residents receive the best available medical and nursing care.”
As Member for Mackay he tirelessly lobbied a succession of premiers to improve the hospital and eventually $480 million was committed.
In 2015 at the official opening of the redeveloped hospital he told ABC Tropical North radio: “I recall when we had the floods at Glenella in 2008 and the then Premier Anna Bligh came to town, I took her to the hospital first because we had water coming into the theatres and she was just astonished. She gave me her personal commitment that day that we would build a new hospital.”
I would like to reflect on some of the health service’s accomplishments under his leadership.
He oversaw development of the strategic plan, clinical health services plan, the infrastructure master plan and the Base Hospital’s transition to the first fully digital regional hospital in Queensland.
His tenure supported major capital projects including refurbishment works at Bowen and Proserpine hospitals, new aged care accommodation at Clermont Multi-Purpose Health Service, construction of the new Mackay Step Up Step Down residential mental health facility and planning for the new Sarina Hospital.
The Board supported expansion of clinical services with investments into life-changing care.
This included the cardiac catheter laboratory becoming a 24/7 service, establishment of a Satellite Renal Services at Bowen Hospital, purchase of a second CT scanner at Mackay Base Hospital and opening a new orthopaedic ward and additional beds throughout the hospital.
Tim’s life-long commitment to and respect for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander people was evident in his term as Chair.
Signing of a Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2018 remained one his proudest moments, as was creation of the KemKem Yanga midwifery group practice to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers birthing at the Base.
Establishment of the Mackay Institute of Research and Innovation, Better Health NQ and Tropical Australia Academic Health Centre were key ‘big picture’ decisions the Board supported to advance the north’s clinical workforce, sustainability and research and innovation capacity.
On a personal note as Chief Executive, I will also remember Tim for his local knowledge and passion for his community. It seemed at every corner of the road of our many visits to rural facilities he would have a piece of local knowledge to impart or an anecdote to share.
Future arrangements for Board leadership will be announced in due course.
We in the health service will continue the strategic direction the Board has endorsed and remember Tim’s own words in 1995 as a newly minted Member of Parliament: “Mackay’s greatest strength is her people”.