GP practice heroes of the pandemic: Meet the winners

Your entries about the nurses, receptionists and colleagues who make you (and us) feel proud

There is a moment about 10 minutes into his legendary Live Aid performance when Freddie Mercury turns to the vast crowd amassed before him.

“This next one is only dedicated to the beautiful people here tonight,” he says.

And there is a sudden silence, as some wonder if they are not among Freddie's beautiful people. 

“It means all of you," he offers in reassurance. "Thank you for making this a great occasion.”

There should be a similar sentiment for those who, over the past 18 months, have put themselves at some personal risk on the front line to protect Australians from the very real harms of the pandemic.

The receptionists dealing with anxious and angry patients, the doctors and nurses reassuring the hesitant and confused, the practice managers responsible for the logistics of keep everyone safe in the pressure cooker of social lockdown.

As of Monday, some 16 million vaccine doses had been administered by GP teams from all four corners of Australia — a monumental collective achievement in a time of crisis.

So, as we move closer to that 80% double-vaxxed target (and all that comes after it when restrictions are eased), over the next few days, we would like to pay our small tribute by publishing all the entries we received in response to our Hero of the Pandemic competition.

There are hundreds, and they offer a genuine insight into what has been achieved by the specialty.

And on behalf of all the staff at Australian Doctor, our friends and our families, it gives us a chance to say a heartfelt thankyou to the beautiful people... and that does mean all of you.

Paul Smith — editor


Read more: GP practice heroes of the pandemic continued...


Linda Lynott and Daniel Jackman, Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation

hero comp

Nominated by Dr Alice Wu, GP, Westleigh, NSW

Dr Wu wrote:

"Being a GP locum, in rural, regional and remote areas throughout Australia and across NSW, seldom have I found such a well-organised practice as Maari Ma AMS in Broken Hill, where I am currently stationed. 

This Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) operates in Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Menindee, Ivanhoe and Balranald, ministering to the needs of the Far West Indigenous communities. 

COVID-19 has added significantly to an already heavy workload for this organisation. 

Everyone in the organisation, from the board of directors to the cleaners, is highly focused on doing their part to support the wellbeing of these communities. To my mind, they are all heroes. 

There are two people however, that I would like to single out. 

Linda Lynott, who comes from a nursing background, is the executive manager of primary care, organising teams and co-ordinating Maari Ma’s outreach vaccination and respiratory swab clinics. 

All staff follow strict PPE procedures, and no-one has been infected. 

They face huge problems with vaccination resistance in the communities, a legacy of the long history of distrust among Aboriginal people and many government departments. 

Linda’s teams constantly talk to community members from a medical and cultural perspective to convince them of the efficacy of vaccination. 

It is hard work, but the Indigenous figures in Broken Hill speak for themselves.


Read more AusDoc:


In August, at the start of the latest outbreak, 9.6% were fully vaccinated, but currently this is now 36% — a three and a half times improvement.

First-dose recipients went from 4.7% to 20.9%: a fourfold increase. 

On 13 September, Linda was able to report that, across the whole ACCHO, 53% of all Maari Ma patients had received their first dose. 

Daniel Jackman, a registered nurse, who goes beyond his normal duties and work hours to take an outreach team to make personal house calls. 

They vaccinate those who have overcome resistance but also visit the already infected to monitor oxygen levels and provide sanitation equipment and medication (especially where there are comorbidities), as well as sustenance and a little company. 

Many enjoy the pizzas they get to lift their spirits. 

To do this, he and his team are putting themselves at great personal risk. 

Such efforts show not just his professionalism, and that of the team, but also his commitment and compassion to the whole community. 

Maari Ma runs a first-rate service with people such as Linda and Daniel, who go largely unrecognised, doing their work quietly in a true spirit of selflessness and concern. 

As a result, I feel compelled to recommend this organisation, its teams and these individuals as practice heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic in Far West NSW.”

Alice Wu
Dr Alice Wu.

Editor's note: We have made efforts to ensure names and job titles are correct. However, given the volume of entries, we have been largely dependent on the accuracy of the nominations we have received.

If corrections are needed, please email: [email protected]

We will publish the runner-up entries tomorrow, along with the stories of the remaining heroes.


The receptionists, Neal St Medical Clinic

Nominated by Dr Felicity Reeve, GP, Gisborne, Victoria 

“Our team of reception staff have been AMAZING during the course of the pandemic. 

There is no one staff member I could single out, which is part of their success - as a group they have adapted to each change with resilience and togetherness. 

As our practice is located on the edge of Melbourne in regional Victoria, they have been managing the rolling uncertainties of recurring lockdowns personally, as well as helping patients on the phone and in the clinic who are confused, stressed and at times frustrated. 

Their work load has increased substantially, with more documents being sent via email and fax, and they have fielded multiple complicated phone calls from patients daily regarding vaccinations and changing recommendations. 

Without our reception team, our medical staff would not have managed the last 18 months and we would not have been able to administer the efficient vaccine program we are currently delivering. 

They are heroes of not just our practice but of the response to COVID-19 in the Macedon Ranges.”


Grace Barbuto, Keilor Downs Medi-Clinic

Nominated by Dr Suchetha Nayak, GP, Avondale Heights, Victoria

“Grace is our practice manager and nurse.

She is working seven days a week at present, vaccinating on Saturdays and Sundays too.

She is always encouraging, caring and trying to help all the patients and staff. 

When priority groups were asked to get vaccinated early, additional staff were put in place so that we could vaccinate more numbers as quickly as possible.” 


Melissa Kippen, First Health Medical Centre

Nominated by Dr Sudarma Munathanthiri, GP, Hampton Park, Victoria 

“Melissa is the key person who takes total responsibility for our COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

She really blossomed to be everyone’s go-to person regarding the vaccines, vaccine education access for doctors and nurses, and any other vaccine-related issues. 

When I asked a colleague one day, ‘Wo are you looking for?’. He replied, ‘Melissa, the most important person!’. We had a good laugh!”


 

 


Dr Susan Cox, Wyndham Health Care

Nominated by Leeanne Gregory, practice manager, Werribee, Victoria

“She is a selfless hero without a cape. She gives up her family time to do our COVID clinics. She is even isolating away from her Year 12 child so we do not have to stop vaccinations and she does not compromise their exams.

"She is our hero through and through.”


Dr Kane Treble, Ontario Medical Clinic

Nominated by Dr Nayna Purchase, GP, Mildura, Victoria

"Once upon a time, in the far-away North-Western Victorian town  of Mildura, there lived a hero named Kane. Kane had moved to Mildura with his wife, Lizzie, in order to be closer to family and offer salvation to the local hospital as an ED reg.

Over time, and with the arrival of his first born, Kane saw the light and transitioned to General Practice.

Whilst our hero thought he was finally escaping the grasp of unsociable hours and time from his family, little did he know that his next adventure and challenge was only just beginning.

I met Kane when he, Lizzie, and I were all working at the hospital. He had the reputation of being an approachable, thorough, and caring registrar who told terrible dad-jokes (and still does). People tended to breathe a sigh of relief when they knew Kane was working.

With time both Lizzie and I ventured to the land of general practice (in the same clinic), and Kane decided to join the party.

For a few months life was good, and we could have face-to-face tutorials in small rooms and Christmas parties were hosted.

Then COVID-19 happened.

Retrospectively (and fortunately), Mildura has been sheltered from any major COVID outbreaks (likely due to our geographical isolation).

However, of this we were not aware. When all the hype started there wasn’t much (read: any) of a COVID team in Mildura.

One of the senior GPs at the clinic saw the need for a COVID response team and kindly volunteered Kane. Kane accepted, and started weaving his magic.

Kane, in conjunction with Sunraysia Community Health Services (SCHS) and a wonderful lead named Shelley Faulks, established the region’s first respiratory assessment clinic in an attempt to spare GP clinics and the ED from people with sore throats and coughs.

With time, the government caught up to Kane and funded GP-led clinics. With that, Kane’s (non-human) child was adopted by the Commonwealth and wore the badge of being one of the first clinics to roll-out within the country.

Unfortunately, the title of a Commonwealth Clinic did not mean roster-gaps were filled.


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Kane continued to offer his usual level of care in his GP clinic, fill multiple gaps in the COVID clinic, attempt to coordinate and fill rosters, be a husband and father, and also support Lizzie who was studying for exams whilst being pregnant with their second child (she’s the kind of person that sits her RCE at 38 weeks without breaking a sweat), all with his usual grace and poise.

As one of his patients articulated, ‘With everything (Kane) has had going on in his personal and professional life, he has always made my mental health and welfare his main focus. I cannot speak highly enough of him.’

But wait, there’s more!

Kane was recruited by the hospital to help coordinate their COVID response team.

He put on yet another hat, this time as COVID medical response officer. This saw him creating policies for inpatients, outpatient, nursing-home patients, and all patients in between whilst also being involved with the ground-work.

Kane continues to look for ways in which he can better help the community. He has the foresight, initiative, and dedication to recognise future challenges and implement strategies to overcome them. He provides a helping hand, listening ear, or caffeine boost to his colleagues without question.

Whilst he appears to have an endless reserve of knowledge and ability, it must be recognised that Kane has had to put aside his studies (delaying his GP exams in order to facilitate his role in the COVID response), time with his family, and also minor things like sleep and sunshine.

Kane, we are so lucky to have you as part of the community, and your family for supporting you and being willing to share you with us.

We wouldn’t be where we are without you and all those working with you. Although you aren’t doing it for the cape (although you totally pull it off…), your hard work doesn’t go unrecognised.

It seems like Lizzie isn’t just keeping you around for your looks and technological ability. Realistically, your COVID adventure is unlikely to come to an end any time soon. Until then, keep slaying and being you."


The pandemic committee, Harding Street Medical Centre

Nominated by Jeannine Armstrong, practice manager, Melbourne, Victoria

“Our pandemic hero is the whole pandemic committee who have met tirelessly throughout the pandemic. 

Our aim has always been to care for all our patients whether they had COVID symptoms or not. 

Our challenge was to put things in place to enable this to happen. 

I have to admit that sometimes we fumbled our way through but always with the staff and patients’ safety at the forefront. 

We have managed a few laughs, behind closed doors, to keep our sanity.


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Our pandemic princess nurse Brittney wears her tiara to our regular pandemic committee meetings to take control. 

The committee consists of three GPs, one nurse, one receptionist and myself, the practice manager. 

As the vaccination rollout occurred I personally purchased everyone of my staff ‘COVID’ socks to try and lift staff morale. They can often be seen in our vaccination clinics. 

Although it has been an anxious time and at times very stressful, I couldn't have asked for a better team to have stood beside me during this pandemic. 

I am very proud of my pandemic committee.”


Zoie Soresnen, CQ Medicentre

Nominated by Allana Gregson, practice manager, Rockhampton, Queensland

“Zoie uploads everything Covid to our Website is a wealth of information for our doctors, staff and patients.

I could not run our COVID clinic without her assistance.

We do both Pfizer and AZ and have to date vaccinated over 5000 patients in our little local doctors’

surgery.

Zoie always makes sure the patients are well informed and they are always given a lolly to help them cope with the vaccine.

She has been abused, bullied and never lets it get her down and loved and appreciated by all.”


The whole team, Little Mountain Medical

Nominated by Allana Ogborne, practice manager, Little Mountain, Queensland

“I really want to acknowledge the hard work our team have put in.

We run a small family-owned three doctor practice that took on the task of vaccinating our community here at Little Mountain.

Our hard-working staff have put in extra time and effort, opening up before clinic hours and on the weekends (some of our nurses getting up at 4:30am during winter just to get here on time!).

We arrived half hour early to find patients eagerly awaiting their vaccination.

We dealt with the monstrous amount of phone calls that would flood our lines.

Here's to Little Mountain Medical, a small local hero of Caloundra!”


Dr Roy Horchner, Griffith Oxley Clinic

Nominated by Muhammad Ather Shafique, practice manager, Biloela, Queensland

“Dr Horchner was the first guy to get the vaccine in the whole town.

Being above 60 he had Astra Zeneca and was the most vocal guy in the community.

Our clinic was the first clinic to start giving the Pfizer vaccine in the whole Banana shire council in

the region of Central Queensland.

Now he’s ready for the vaccinating with Moderna!”


Julie Witchard, Shelly Beach Medical Clinic

Nominated by Tina Foskett, practice manager, Harvey Bay, Queensland

“She is amazing at keeping our practice and patients safe.

She remembers to ask each and every person if they have been to a hotspot and arranges what is required when necessary.

I think our front reception team are not appreciated as much as they should be.

Thank you Jools for all that you do for us all.”


Anne-Marie Cook, nurse, Spencer Road Family Practice 

Nominated by Dr Cathy Kan, Huntingdale, WA

"Anne-Marie has always been the best head nurse we ever had in the surgery. But since the pandemic started, we’ve been even more grateful to her. She rang around and drove around to get us PPE, and helped to develop our policies on cleaning and being COVID safe.  

She’s also done many extra hours to run the flu and COVID-19 clinics in our surgery. On top of all this, she made cakes and treats for all of us and always have a lovely smile and cheerful attitude.

Without her, I don’t know how we’d have survived this COVID crisis."


Raihanah Abdullah, Tullamarine Complete Health Centre

Nominated by Dr Ahsan Hussain, GP, Tullamarine, Victoria

"Raihanah is incredibly active and energetic.

its in as many patients as she can. Accepts bookings and walk-ins. Does not turn anyone away.

Has been working weekdays and weekends. Passionate about the vaccination and the community and is the driving force for all the other staff at the clinic."


Gayle Jones, Golden Beach Medical Centre

Nominated by Hannah Howarth, nurse manager, Golden Beach, Queensland

"Gayle is our director and takes care of our staff incredibly well. This year, our staff have been overwhelmed by ever-changing restrictions, phone calls, scared patients and our own concerns and fears.

One day, we came to work to be ushered into the upstairs offices, where Gayle have prepared a "choose your own adventure" gift.

We went from station 1 where we chose either a heat pack or cuddly blanket to station 2 where we chose a face mask. Next was station 3: our choice of essential oil.

Station 4 was a candle of our choice. And of course, station 5 was a choice of chocolate.

It was the sweetest, feel-good way to start a day. And Gayle's reasoning was, "just because you all deserve it". She is constantly going out of her way for her team of receptionists and nurses."


The team, Maple Street Surgery

Nominated by Donna Christie, practice manager, Cooroy, Queensland

"Without my entire team working tirelessly our practice would not have survived.

We went in blindfolded by the epidemic but we came out shining.

We run both AZ and Pfizer clinics five session per week, we have received awesome compliments on our service, we needed extra phone lines installed to cope with the excess calls from patients anxious but my reception staff reassured everyone and made the process run so smoothly.

My amazing nurses worked longer days without complaining as we all understood how important it was to get through this together. We had mental health time out so everyone got a break, I bought countless coffee/cake/chocolate/ice cream runs which brought a lovely smile to everyone’s face.

Our motto here is every day is a good day!

But more importantly I could not have done this without my nine amazing doctors for which I give thanks daily."


Dr Touraj Oveisi, Deer Park Medical Centre

Nominated by Namarata Malhotra, practice manager, Deer Park, Victoria 

“Since the start of the pandemic, he has been a great example to our GP practice. 

He has continued to provide exceptional service to his patients; he consulted patients face-to-face when telehealth was the go-to choice for doctors and took swabs when everyone else was worried. 

He has always been there in every difficult stage since the beginning of the pandemic. 

He has stayed back for hours when he did not need to, he has increased the hours of his sessions to provide more appointments and care when patients were in need. 

One time, the entire clinic had to be tested for COVID-19 as part of being an exposure site. 

There was anxiety and stress within the team but he was the first one to ask all staff to attend in his room one by one to organise the covid swab. 


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He started the vaccine program in April 2021 when others were worried and hesitant. 

He followed recommendations and worked within the protocols. 

He took time out during difficult and busy periods to attend webinars to learn and advance his knowledge to help positive patients and understand high-risk COVID variants.

At the end of July, our staff were receiving endless phone calls for vaccine appointments and we were already booked until December. 

Dr Oveisi was willing to offer additional time on top of his overbooked session and include his days off. He also encouraged other doctors to participate.

In some of his sessions, he had about 90 patients booked but still assisted nurses and admin staff. 

When patients over 60 were hesitant to get AstraZeneca, he called them personally and reassured them. 

He once expressed in the lunchroom that he is looking forward to a holiday after this is over. 

I hope he wins to contribute towards that trip. 

The real hero is one who sacrifices for the greater good.”


Kylie Wrigley, registered nurse, The Bay Surgery

Nominated by Sue Hardy, practice manager, Urraween, Queensland

"Our hero is Kylie, our senior RN in the practice.

Throughout this crazy journey everyone needs a rock and Kylie was and is our own personal Uluru!

Keeping the practice well equipped with all the necessary extra requirement was one thing, but her biggest feat was continually keeping us up to date with information, stats and changes. Kylie did this in a way that maintained staff interest, participation and commitment.

She made times fun and kept staff upbeat and happy sourcing bright beautiful (and a little strange sometimes) masks and an endless supply of jokes, messages and ditties.

Its been a huge task which she has handled with ease, grace and dignity. To attest to her tremendous dedication, commitment and empathy not only to our patients but the whole community Kylie has also worked at the local COVID testing unit most Sundays for months.

The list would be too long to single out everything she does for our practice and our patients.

To some her up? She's a good egg, impossible to crack and we are so proud and grateful that she is good egg."


Dr Marc Corbett, Bunbury Medical Centre

Nominated by Dr Alexander James, Perth, WA

“Dr Corbett - a practice registrar - selflessly gave up his weekends away from his family to administer vaccinations to ensure his patients were protected against COVID-19.

"Not all heroes wear capes!”


Dr Leslie Cotterell, Abbotsford Family Medical Practice

Nominated by Dr Judith Branch, retired anaesthetist, Cabarita, NSW

“Leslie is a senior member of the practice and has been my GP for more than 15 years. She treats me first and foremost as a patient but also tolerates my ‘I am sure this is…’ because of my medical background.

During the pandemic, Leslie has maintained her usual calm, pleasant and charming demeanour while adapting to the enormous new challenges of telehealth and e-scripts, as well as adapting the practice to be COVID safe.

She has kept abreast of the pandemic information and vaccinations so that her patients are appropriately informed.

The entire practice has maintained its good humour, common-sense approach and helpful attitude despite being so incredibly busy, and this is predominantly because of Leslie's leadership.

She will insist on patients being physically examined if she feels it is required and has maintained her exceptionally thorough follow-up of any non-COVID medical problems.

She has never wavered in following up any investigations that she orders for her patients and calls with the results as soon as they come through.

Leslie is an exceptional GP with an excellent reputation and yet is such a humble, understated professional and a very gracious, warm human being. She is a superb asset to general practice and to the local community.”


Dr Marc Corbett, GPSC Midland

Nominated by Dr Admas Haile, GP, Perth, WA

“Marc has been a one-man COVID-19 vaccine machine. So many clinics, so many weekends sacrificed to get people vaccinated. He sweats Pfizer and cries AstraZeneca.”


Nursing and admin staff, Central General Practice

Nominated by Dr Benjamin Nally, GP, Mansfield, Victoria

“Our pandemic hero is a group not an individual: the frontline warriors, the complaints diplomats, the grease that smooths the tracks, the perpetual motion that keeps our clinic running.

It is so hard to select any one in particular; we are a team after all.

Thus, I would like to nominate the admin and nursing staff at our rural Victorian clinic.

We can't forget the GPs, but let's be honest, we'd be nothing without our support team.

During this last 18 or so months, we've asked this team to go above and beyond.

As soon as we set something in motion, sure enough we ask them to change again.

Every time they impress by adapting, with little complaint, and always put the patients’ interest first.

If we are considered for the prize, I would like to send this team out on the town (takeaway at the clinic might be more realistic).

If nothing else, I know they deserve it.”


Dr Alexandra Williams, Myhealth Kable Street

Nominated by Dr Victoria Carter, GP, St Mary, NSW

“Dr Alex educates and encourages all of her patients to be safe and vaccinated.

"I am immunosuppressed and have chronic health conditions, and she has made me feel supported throughout the pandemic.”


Lesley Riley, practice manager, Queanbeyan GP Super Clinic

Nominated by Dr Meredith Blackmur, GP, Queanbeyan, NSW

“Lesley has set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the practice car park. She has divided the clinic into three separate areas to avoid cross contamination among doctors and staff in the case of a COVID-positive patient entering our premises — and no, you can’t not move across sections!

She has been forward thinking, enterprising and ready to create new ways for seeing our patients in the practice. Through all of this, she has endured significant family losses and managed to keep herself composed and the entire clinic running. My hat goes off to this wonderful lady!”


Robbie Howe, Club Howe Medical

Nominated by Dr David Howe, GP, Orange, NSW

“Robbie, my son, has come in to help out since we started to give COVID-19 vaccinations, especially the Pfizer doses.

The phones have been running hot, and our regular receptionists just can’t get to the day-to-day running of the practice without having Robbie answer phone call after phone call.

Many calls have been about the availability of Pfizer vaccines. He has had to deal with some trying patients and sometimes just outright abuse.

Robbie, who is studying to be a youth/mental health worker, has taken things in his stride and has never been angry with anyone even when he gets abused.

He knows how frustrated, frightened and impatient some people have been.

I think he has learned many skills in his part-time casual work in our practice, and the reception staff are so happy when he comes in to man the endless phone calls.”


Nicole Searle, practice manager and her incredible reception staff, The Highton Clinic

Nominated by Sue Winsor, practice nurse, Highton, Victoria

“I can't nominate just one person.

Nicole and her team have been our backbone during this pandemic.

As our first point of contact for all our patients and their families, they have worked above and beyond.

They have responded to the ongoing changes according to the health advice with no complaints.

They have continued to greet everyone in a caring and professional way, taking the time to explain to patients how our GP and practice nurse consultations have been operating during the last 18 months.”


Dr Susan Moseley, Kurrajong Village Medical Centre

Nominated by Dr Phil Dalley, GP, Kurrajong, NSW

“She was already working double-digit-hour days in the office Monday to Friday.

She was already shopping for the home, etc, on Saturdays. She was already visiting nursing homes on Sundays.

And now, without a nurse, she has put her hand up to vaccinate the local community with COVID-19 clinics up to three times a week and, therefore, comes into work an hour earlier each day to make up for it.

If ever there were someone so dedicated to their community and profession, it would be Dr Susan Moseley!”


Anna Kelly, Hurstbridge and Districts Medical Centre

Nominated by Dr Paul Kelly, GP owner, Melbourne, Victoria

“Anna is the clinical director of the centre. She has organised the practice during the pandemic with two goals in mind: safety of all staff and safety of the community. She has succeeded in both and is looking forward to eased restrictions through increased vaccinations.

"Patients are grateful for her style of practice as well as her clinical expertise in these hard times, evidenced by the stream of cakes and flowers and verbal affirmations."


Dr Palmyra De Banks, High Street Medical and Dental Preston

Nominated by Linda Osman, practice manager, Dingley, Victoria

“Dr De Banks tirelessly drove the COVID-19 vaccine rollout across 17 Victorian GP clinics. Her leadership and hands-on delivery provided a team approach to successful vaccine delivery.”


Rachel Woods, Morpeth Family Medical Practice

Nominated by Dr Amrit Nahar, GP, Morpeth, NSW

“We are a small practice in the town of Morpeth, close to Maitland in the Hunter Valley.

My wife and I are principal GPs here. We have a registrar training position.

Rachel is our practice manager. She joined us in May 2020 — right in the middle of the pandemic.

Rachel is marvellous person: articulate, good with patients and keeping staff together, a brilliant patient support in the pandemic, compassionate towards our small community, very considerate of patients wanting to see doctors asap, maximising patient vaccination, updating our practice systems and preparing our practice for AGPAL accreditation in the middle of pandemic.

Our area has been in lockdown for months. Rachel brainstormed with staff and found a way of continuing to vaccinate our community while minimising risk to the staff and practice.

She, along with our two nurses and one doctor, started a vaccination program in our car park with maintenance of social distancing, full PPE and only a very small risk of asymptomatic spread.

The community is so happy with our practice that patients from neighbouring practices want to come to us for vaccinations in our car park clinic — held twice a week and increasing to three times a week from next week.

It's such a remarkable achievement.

We have been able to vaccinate almost 85% of our patients with the first dose, and we’re on the way to vaccinating a similar number and much more with the second dose in the next two months.

Rachel has such a compassionate way of dealing with angry patients wanting the vaccine asap.

She is always able to pacify our frustrated patients who find it hard to get appointments for vaccination elsewhere.

I think all our reception staff deserve a medal, but Rachel Woods, our practice manager, deserves gold.

I would really, really recommend her for this — not for the money but to recognise what she does for our small semi-rural community.”


Bronwyn Hoger, UFS Medical Centre

Nominated by Dr Stephen Wong, GP, Booval, Queensland

“My receptionist has been working hard through this pandemic. She has never been busier, organising telehealth, booking COVID-19 vaccines, all on top of her usual job and while looking after her partner recovering from oesophageal cancer.

Good work, Bronwyn.”


Dr Anand Patel, Mallee District Aboriginal Services

Nominated by Alex McWilliam, practice nurse, Mildura, Victoria

“My nomination for the GP hero award is Dr Anand Patel and here is why.

Dr Patel has been instrumental in the roll out and success of one of the large vaccination clinics in rural and remote Victoria.
The practice we both work for is Mallee District Aboriginal Services, and as you can tell by the name our primary clientele are Indigenous and Torrens strait island peoples.

Throughout this year Dr Patel has worked tirelessly to head up the roll out of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March and the Pfizer vaccine in late May.

With his help we have successfully vaccinated much of the ASTI population in Sunraysia.

He took time with the hesitant of our Aboriginal community, even spending many out of work hours encouraging and speaking with our Elders and vulnerable clients.

He has personally worked on organising and implementing our vaccine clinic, again taking time outside of work to create a good clinic

space (even going in and drilling holes in the wall to hang curtains for privacy).

After vaccinating a majority of our ASTI population in Sunraysia, Dr Patel was not satisfied that his service to the community was over.

He encouraged and backed our clinic opening to the general public in order to get them vaccinated too.

We have since opened to every eligible individual in the entire Sunraysia community.

Our appointment books have been maxed out and our current daily immunization amount is around 250 split between four immunisers, our largest day so far has been 324 people.

The service has since taken over from the state-run clinic as the largest in the

region, all due to Dr Patel’s continued efforts. Dr Patel is not only a hero to the staff he leads, the Aboriginal communities, the wider Sunraysia region but to his young 1-year-old daughter who he raised with his wonderful wife in these uncertain and dangerous times.

He is an inspiration to me in every facet of his life, and I believe Australia needs to know about it.”


Annette Pham, Vincentia Medical Centre

Nominated by Dr Hao Pham, GP, Vincentia, NSW

“Annette Pham is the superhero of vaccinations in the community down here in the Shoalhaven.

Her mission; to lead and inspire others by example and vaccinate, vaccinate and vaccinate.

She has made sure the vaccination is accessible to everyone in our community and to date our practice has vaccinated over 22,000 people.

After many years of managing our practices, Annette has donned her scrubs once again and gone back to full time nursing running our vaccine clinics with military precision.

Annette has made sure no one who wants to be vaccinated misses out, it doesn’t matter if you do not have a Medicare Card, if you

are homeless or a drug addict or if you are the queen you can be vaccinated in our practice. Four days a week Annette and her small

team of two nurses and two admin staff vaccinate about 200-300 people but on a Saturday a larger team vaccinate up to 1200 people.

Annette along with Tracy O Connor, our nurse manager, and Greg Davis, our CEO, inspire our vaccination team to work with great

passion and enthusiasm to deliver the vaccine to all those waiting.

Such is the atmosphere created in our clinics, the good will in the community, the kindness shown by our communities here in the Shoalhaven, it inspires Annette to work even harder and reach out to those who should have been vaccinated by now.

We have people ringing our practice who are not patients, who have heard how wonderful Annette is with children, those with a disability or with autism asking if Annette can vaccinate them.

Parents worry that their child or young adult will have to be sedated to be vaccinated but Annette has a special way about her, a calmness and a great sense of humour; perhaps because her own son Liam is profoundly disabled, they let her vaccinate them without a problem.

This week, Annette targeted and arranged vaccinations for all the HSC students in all the high schools in Nowra and the Bay and Basin who wished to be vaccinated. Every week there is a new area to target so no one gets left unvaccinated.

Annette has used the power of social media and the local radio stations to spread a positive message about the benefits of vaccination to the individual and the community.

She refuses to take any credit for the success of the vaccine program saying it’s all teamwork. What's amazing about Annette is her energy, her commitment and her drive, she never stops and always with a smile on her face.”


Dr John He, SIA Medical Centre, Footscray

Nominated by Kainat Rizvi, practice manager, Melbourne, Victoria

“The only doctor in my practice who throughout from the start of pandemic ensured to continue providing care to his patients during clinical hours and then to his nursing home residents as well.

He has been spending 16 hours a day comprising of doing COVID-19 testing to providing COVID-19 vaccines and attending his patients care diligently.

Hats off to all those doctors like Dr He who are sacrificing their personal health and well-being to ensure quality care is given to patients.”


Keira Fordham, Rutherford Family Medical Practice

Nominated by Dr M C Alexander, GP, Rutherford, NSW

“We were discouraged from getting involved with the Pfizer vaccination program, because we were already doing AZ vaccinations; and that it would be too hard on our staff.

But Keira, our RN, took it upon herself to get involved and work hard to immunise the community.

She worked extra hours even though she has a very young family.

Often when we as practice principals ask her if she was okay to work like this, she would assure us that she is passionate about this.

Keira our hero deserves recognition.”


Kylie Gibson

Nominated by Sue Loxley, practice nurse, Sutherland  NSW

“Kylie has been working for us for 25 years after she joined our practice straight out of Year 12.

She took the vaccination roll out under her wing and has implemented wonderful measures within our practice to ensure as many people as possible get vaccinated as soon as possible.

She is most definitely a forward thinker and is a massive asset to our practice.”


Dr Fran Bradshaw, Lakes District Family Practice

Nominated by Nicki Murdock, Traveston, Queensland

“Dr Fran has been the only practice in the area to stay open for face-to-face consultations throughout the pandemic.

She has focused on delivering safe care to her patients with Covid-safe waiting areas, consults outside in private spaces and a commitment to see every patient who needs to be seen.

She prioritised safety for her staff, securing PPE and installing screens as soon as the pandemic started.

She has also been clear that the mental health of her staff is really important and has held debrief sessions to ensure ongoing support for mental health.

Other practices in the area did not stay open and Dr Fran continued to see not only her practice patients but was available to other patients who needed to be seen face to face.

Dr Fran has been part of the Covid vaccination programme despite the difficulties encountered with the rollout.

Providing new scrubs for all staff was one of the many things Dr Fran did to boost morale.

She also arranged a half day yoga retreat locally as a team building and stress relieving activity, contributing to the local economy.

Finally, cake has always been a mainstay of staff wellbeing and the pandemic has led to increased baking in the Bradshaw household!”


Katie Shepherd, Hamilton Medical Group

Nominated by Bronwyn Anderson, practice nurse, Hamilton, Victoria

“This full-time lead nurse has a busy husband, four children, helps run both an electrician business and a fireworks team, while also

undertaking an intensive extra nursing course.

When not at work she always appears available for advice to anyone at our practice from her mobile.

She has taken on the role of organizing and co-ordinating the many and often large covid vaccination sessions we run.

In a clinic of quite often 13 doctors and other visiting professionals she is known as the 'go to' person regarding the pandemic rules and COVID vaccinations.

Over the years (though still young) she has been affectionately named the vaccine 'Nazi' for her attention to the rules and ability to track down repeat rule bending offenders like a bloodhound.

She has extended this skill to COVID  requirements.

Despite many (including doctors) attempts to pull the wool over her eyes, we have realized it's just not possible.

This nurse has too many sets of eyes and ears which know what you are going to do before you do!

In being so committed and professional she has been doing the most amazing job of keeping us all safe.

Our hero.”


Dr Peter Sidhom, MyHealth

Nominated by Dr Nicholas Maluga, GP registrar, Sydney, NSW

"Peter has gone above and beyond in his vaccination effort for the community.

He works across two MyHealth practices: Roselands and Bondi Junction.

He has been vaccinating up to 80 patients a day in Roselands (during the week) and running a 150-patient vaccination clinic (with the help of a registrar) on Sundays.

He has selflessly given up his weekends to deliver the life-saving medicine to the community and to facilitate the health and safety of those most in need.

Peter particularly enjoys it when the number of hand-filled forms doesn't match the number of delivered doses and he has to manually go through all the forms in alphabetical order to identify the duplicates.

He states it is his favourite thing to do on a Sunday night."


Dr Sebastian Pavone, Eastern Medical Centre

Nominated by Anne Read, practice manager, Dandenong, Victoria

"Dr Sebastian Pavone is a very generous and caring doctor.

We are doing our best to administer as many vaccines as we can, even though the practice is not breaking even with the additional staffing and equipment we had to purchase."


Dr Tammy Kimpton, Scone Medical Practice

Nominated by Dr Marian Dover, GP registrar, Scone, NSW

"Dr Kimpton is a GP in a small rural town with a single practice servicing over 5000 locals.

She’s dedicated almost every weekend to COVID vaccine clinics or emergency on-calls.

She's a mentor to the registrars and extremely knowledgeable in the space, despite ever-changing guidelines and advice.

We have been vaccinating hundreds of people every week and have had no local hospitalisations, largely due to her efforts."


Dr Jane Isaac, Brighton Family & Women's Clinic

Nominated by Philippa Cowden, practice manager, Brighton East, Victoria

"Dr Isaac had only owned our practice for 12 months when COVID hit Australia. She spent every waking hour staying abreast of the changes and lead our team with a positive attitude.

She has been a wonderful support to me, as the PM, and the rest of our BFWC family, from sourcing PPE via any contact she could, to finding a portable building that we could use for our respiratory patients so they didn't have to enter the clinic, therefore keeping us as safe as possible.

And she did all this while home-schooling three girls and supporting the other doctors."


Georgia Reid, Mt Druitt Medical Centre

Nominated by Dr Vivienne Sharma, GP, Mt Druitt, NSW

"Georgia has stepped up to cover for our practice manager, dealing with huge amounts of calls and patient queries in relation to immunisations. She has never missed a day and has endured third-daily nasal swabs for weeks all with a smile and a great sense of humour.

She is always ready to help, and her hilarious wit and understanding makes working with her a pleasure. We wouldn't have gotten through the hundreds of immunisations without her help."

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