Castlemaine Health chief executive Ian Fisher couldn’t have come into the organisation at a more turbulent time.
Sitting in the Northern Territory last December, Mr Fisher was working as head of Anglicare, travelling to remote health services in Aboriginal communities, when he was told of hospital budget cuts.
A phone call informed him Castlemaine Health would need to find $246,000 in savings because of funding revisions from the federal government. “That was two weeks before I started, so I suppose I had that period to reconsider taking on the role,” he said.“But I was also still rapt and excited to be coming back to central Victoria.”
Mr Fisher took over the role as new chief executive in January, as plans to redevelop the surgery theatre of Castlemaine’s 19th century hospital were beginning to take shape.
He said the the revamp, combined with the funding cuts, have made for a busy first few weeks in the role.“It’s certainly been challenging and a big transition from the Northern Territory,” he said.
Before taking up his new position, Mr Fisher spent three years operating out of Darwin, flying up to two hours to health services across the territory. He said the disadvantage within local communities was stark and confronting, but the welfare and health standards were gradually improving.
In the three years before that, Mr Fisher was overseeing specialist hospitals being built in Kuwait.
“That was different altogether,” he said. “There were plasma screens in every room, marble floors and timber panel walls.”
After growing up in Mildura and working in Bendigo for a number of years, Mr Fisher said Castlemaine felt like home. “It’s a great spot for me,” he said. “I just need to actually find a home, I’m still living with my sister in Gisborne.”