The staff, consumers and volunteers who make the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) a great place to work and a great place to receive care were recognised at the 2021 Celebrating Excellence Awards.

The RMH Celebrating Excellence Awards (CEA) 2022 logo
The RMH Celebrating Excellence Awards (CEA) 2022

This year’s awards ceremony involved a special live broadcast recognising the great work of all 53 finalists, as well as the outstanding work achieved across the RMH in 2021.

Congratulations to the following winners and highly commended teams and individuals.

The Melbourne Award

Winner – Professor Kirsty Buising

Kirsty is the Medical Director of Medical Services and an infectious disease physician whose expertise is respected and valued here at the RMH and widely by fellow experts in the field.

Kirsty’s clinical leadership to the RMH COVID-19 response has been exceptional. She is a tireless worker who always contributes positively to improve the care of COVID-19 patients and gives absolutely priority to the safety of staff.

She is knowledgeable, committed and innovative, with her research and collaborations in the importance of the airborne nature of COVID-19 and the role of ventilation leading to significant enhancements in safety for both staff and patients.

Excellence in Action

Winner – Emma Gardiner

A trained emergency registered nurse, Emma led the RMH’s front-of-house response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking up the role of Nurse Unit Manager in 2020, Emma was responsible for the public and staff COVID-19 testing, staff asymptomatic testing and the daily attestation screening at our key entrances

 Emma ensured these key services were always there when it mattered most, mobilising a workforce that was adaptable and resilient a during period of high demand and change.

As Victoria continued to feel the effects of COVID-19 outbreaks around the state in 2021, so did the RMH Screening team, at times swabbing between 800–1,000 Victorians, including the RMH and precinct staff.

Throughout all of this Emma has demonstrated Excellence in Action, supporting her workforce, who in turn has supported our RMH and Victorian community.

Excellence in Research

Winner – Dr Angela Watt

Angela has been a research leader at the RMH for more than 25 years. She is recognised as a national leader in Research and Research Governance, and has built and honed a Research Office, which is seen as a national example of excellence.

During the pandemic she oversaw and drove an acceleration of research processes and the COVID-19 Research Co-ordination Committee, which has set the RMH as an exemplar of what can be achieved in research in a pandemic.

Chief Executive’s Healthcare Innovation Award

Joint winners – Cardiology cardiac implanted electronic devices team and COVID-19 Community Navigators

Cardiology cardiac implanted electronic devices team:

When the Cardiology cardiac implanted electronic devices (CIED) team’s regional follow up clinics were cancelled due to the pandemic, the team developed a new solution using remote device interrogation kiosks (ReDInk) in local pharmacies.

This ‘People First’ approach enabled patient care and CIED management to continue remotely. There have been 287 patients successfully seen at Shepparton and Albury through this process.

COVID-19 Community Navigators:

The COVID-19 Community Navigator service was established in response to the increasing COVID-19 case numbers in Victoria and subsequent burgeoning demand on the health service.

A model of care was swiftly developed and a team of allied health practitioners was created to cover a 24/7 roster that supports patients to transition home from the COVID Short Stay Unit and manage their illness at home.

This has contributed to more for Emergency, with the model adopted by the Department of Health and funded across other Melbourne hospitals.

Excellence in Allied Health and Clinical Support Services

Joint winners – Respiratory Protection Program and Telehealth

Respiratory Protection Program:

The team co-ordinates best practice approaches to staff, students and contractors for respiratory protection, including mask-fit testing, education and research into this important field for staff safety.

The team includes occupational health and safety experts from occupational therapy and occupational hygiene backgrounds, medical experts in mask performance, ventilation assessment and clinical research, nursing experts in personal protective equipment including respiratory RPE, and Data Analysts.


The Telehealth video team is committed to making the RMH a great place to work and receive care.

The highest standard of patient remote care is achieved by the ongoing person-centred care and digital accessibility we provide all patients, focusing on our culturally and linguistically diverse community, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, and elderly peoples.

Across the pandemic, the team has supported more than 58,000 video appointments and 70,900 telephone appointments.

Highly commended: Pharmacy Vaccination team

Excellence in Medicine

Joint winners – Emergency General Surgery and Professor George Varigos

Emergency General Surgery:

The response from the team during the pandemic included embedding surgical registrars in the Emergency Department and COVID-19 wards, facilitating patient care that is safer, more efficient, and person-centred.

This proactive leadership team supports great care, not just for Emergency General Surgery patients, but for patients and staff throughout the hospital.

Professor George Varigos:

Dermatologist Professor George Varigos possesses the rare combination of deep scientific interest, creativity of thought and an unparalleled ability to network and bring people together.

This combination has served the RMH well for more than 40 years and his impact will last generations through his generous mentoring.

Excellence in Mental Health

Winner – Brian Jackson

Over Brian’s long history with the RMH NorthWestern Mental Health (NWMH) he has displayed outstanding qualities, going over and above what is expected of his role, and that did not change in the past two years in his capacity as Senior Nurse Advisor.

Brian has demonstrated superb leadership navigating high service demand, COVID-19 and the implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations, including a rapid expansion of the RMH NWMH nursing workforce to accommodate new mental health beds.

Excellence in Nursing

Winner – RMH@Home Acute

The RMH@Home Acute team worked incredibly hard in the 2021 wave of COVID-19, rapidly expanding beds in 2021 to accommodate the growth of our home-first approach, in addition to managing COVID-19 demand.

The team has collaborated with other health services, Safer Care Victoria and used international experience to guide them, all the while ensuring the complex and various needs of their patients are met.

Highly commended: Access Critical Care and Investigative Services Nursing leadership

The Melbourne Supporting Great Care Award

Joint winners – Louise Mogg and Facilities Management

Louise Mogg:

Louise is the first Disability Liaison Officer the RMH has had. Her contribution to improving the interface between people with a disability and the health system has exceeded expectations in the first 12 months of this role’s existence.

Her work is leading to a more connected workforce across the RMH, improved RMH access for people with disability, improved health experience for people with disability, a reduction in re-admissions for people with disability, shorter length of stay for people with disability and improved communication within the RMH treating teams and the wider community.

Facilities Management:

In addition to their core business of building infrastructure, biomedical support, cleaning services and leadership of the clinical assistant team, Facilities Management has frequently responded to support the clinical operational teams to provide safe environments to care for patients through:

  • Ventilation assessments and adjustments
  • Pop-up tests
  • Testing facilities
  • Tricky patient and staff transport solutions

They have delivered meals, lent their jackets off their own backs and responded rapidly to any challenge thrown their way.

Volunteer of the Year

Winner – Antonella Eramo

Antonella started volunteering with the RMH in 2016 as a Wayfinding/Wheelchair Assist Volunteer, and has since contributed almost 950 hours while providing excellent customer service to patients, consumers, carers and visitors.

She was one of a small number of volunteers able to remain on site throughout the pandemic, displaying adaptability, resilience, flexibility, an excellent work ethic and an eagerness to support the service.

Consumer and Carer Representative Award

Winner – Sue McFarlane

Sue has dedicated thousands of hours volunteering on various committees, working groups and roles since 2013, including the Medication Safety Committee, Consumer Advisory Committee and as a Ward Assist volunteer for the Emergency Department and 2B Cardiology.

She is always leading with kindness, promoting a sense of collegiality and works with the consumer experience at the forefront of her mind.

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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