Western District Health Service and Casterton Memorial Hospital to Welcome First Female Chief Executive

Newly appointed WDHS & CMH Dual Chief Executive, Rowena Clift (left), is set to begin her new role in February. Casterton Memorial Hospital Board Chair, Hugh Macdonald and WDHS Board Chair, Anna Sweeney made the announcement.

Rowena Clift will be the next Dual Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Western District Health Service (WDHS) and Casterton Memorial Hospital (CMH).

Ms Clift, a highly experienced healthcare professional, will assume the role in February 2024, making her the first female CEO in the history of the two organisations.

The announcement of her appointment was made jointly by WDHS and CMH Board Chairs, Anna Sweeney and Hugh Macdonald.

Mrs Sweeney says Ms Clift brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her new role.

“Rowena’s impressive career in healthcare leadership, including her recent role as the CEO of the Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN), highlights her exceptional leadership abilities and commitment to the health and wellbeing of regional communities.

Her unique skillset includes the ability to form strategic partnerships, a deep data-driven understanding of community needs, and a commitment to inclusive decision-making. Rowena’s collaborative leadership approach, along with her focus on co-design and community engagement, will ensure that the voice of the community remains at the forefront of healthcare decision-making,” Mrs Sweeney said.

Prior to her CEO role at WVPHN, Rowena served as the Director of Service and System Integration and gained valuable experience in service redesign and system transformation in acute roles at various other organisations. She also completed a secondment as Acting CEO at Ballan District Health and Care. Rowena’s qualifications in Nursing and Health Systems Management have further enriched her understanding of the healthcare industry.

Residing between Hamilton and Casterton, Ms Clift is deeply connected to the regional communities she serves and expressed her passion for delivery of health services locally and the health and wellbeing of staff.

“WDHS and CMH have a long history of delivering health services to the local community. Living and working in this region I understand firsthand the challenges facing rural health.  

I look forward to meeting and working with the staff of both organisations to ensure we build on the positive contribution each service provides to their communities,” Ms Clift said.

CMH Board Chair, Hugh Macdonald says Rowena’s vision aligns well with the current healthcare environment in Victoria.

“There is a pressing need to ensure sustainable and accessible healthcare services for rural and regional areas, and Rowena has consistently demonstrated her passion for improving the quality and sustainability of services in our region.

In her current role as CEO at WVPHN, Rowena has been dedicated to improving healthcare access and delivery. She also serves as an Independent Board Director for the G21 Alliance and as a Board Director for WDHS, reflecting her dedication to regional healthcare initiatives,” Mr Macdonald said.

Mrs Sweeney expressed the gratitude of both Boards to Rohan Fitzgerald, the current WDHS & CMH Interim Dual Chief Executive (CE), for his outstanding leadership over the past nine years.

“Under Rohan’s guidance, WDHS has experienced remarkable growth, with significant investments in healthcare infrastructure, including the MRI and Cancer Centre, and substantial upgrades to residential care facilities.

Additionally, Rohan assumed the Interim CE role at CMH this year, implementing several key changes to deliver efficiencies, enhance services, and improve access for the Casterton community.

Mr Fitzgerald’s legacy will provide a strong foundation for Ms Clift as she takes on her substantive new position,” Mrs Sweeney said.

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