View from the Top | Russell Harrison of Western Health
Being the leader of an organisation that provides a wide range of health services in the time of a pandemic requires courage and bravery, and that’s what Western Health CEO Russell Harrison demonstrates.
Russell assumed the top executive position at Western Health in 2013 after holding key leadership positions for 16 years within the UK’s National Health Service. He also had several years of experience in private practice.
Despite the pandemic, Western Health has managed to continue providing full services, managing over 9,000 employees in several health facilities that include four acute public hospitals and other community-based health centres around the region.
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Russell’s courage does not come from just an empty vacuum of space. He draws his strength from the people he works with and most especially the communities the organisation serves. This special connection with the communities is their main drive to deliver excellent services.
Gender inclusivity and equality
Western Health’s top leader also brought his courage in the realm of gender inclusivity and equality, when in 2018, he joined a movement against sexism and violence through the organisation’s “Respect Women: Call It Out” campaign.
Russell recalled his own experience in seeing someone calling out a surgeon who was harassing a nurse in a hospital when he was working abroad. For him, it is important that healthcare workers stand up for their colleagues in moments like this.
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“He was in a position of power and wouldn’t take no for an answer. It took one of her colleagues to raise the alarm on her behalf. He was given a warning,” he recalled. “I want to encourage people to stand up for their colleagues if they see any unacceptable behaviour.”
Putting vocal support in action, Western Health launched the EMPOWIR program where hospital staff can report poor experiences they had in the workplace. The program enables people to speak up when something wrong happens.