A day in the life of our Medical Director, Dr. Lorraine MD
At KAMS, we’re proud of our talented leadership team and wanted to shine a spotlight on their work and accomplishments. Meet Dr. Lorraine, our Broome-based Medical Director, who shares the diversity in her role and what she loves about working for KAMS.
Dr. Lorraine MD has worked in Aboriginal health and rural areas in Australia for more than 12 years, predominately in the Pilbara. She was looking for the next step in her career and saw the role for Medical Director advertised for KAMS. With her extensive experience, she believed she could do the job justice. Lorraine moved to the Kimberley in early 2019 and has been working in KAMS ever since.
“It was time for me to take all of my experience in remote and Aboriginal Health and put it to good use,” said Lorraine. “My husband and family and I love north WA. We had done lots of camping there, so we were familiar with the Kimberley. Both of our children have lived in Broome before (one working as a pearl diver!). Even though it’s a regional town, Broome is actually much bigger than we’re used to.
“KAMS has looked after my family and I incredibly well in setting us up in fabulous accommodation and helping me make the move from the Pilbara. The people at KAMS are so welcoming. We found everyone to be really friendly. We had some friends in Broome and had the chance to connect with them. Not to mention, Broome is a place people like to visit, so we often have lots of friends visit us too!”
As Medical Director for our organisation, Lorraine has a number of responsibilities, including overseeing the clinical services team in KAMS remote clinics, Broome based clinical teams and overseeing research. She also manages systems, procedures and governance. Lorraine is Chair of the Lead Clinicians Forum, which meets every two months to discuss clinical issues for both KAMS clinics and member services. This forum ensures KAMS clinical teams across the sector are communicating well and sharing ideas across the region.
“We do a lot of regional work, which involves assessing quality and data across a range of topics. For example, we’ll ask whether we’re doing well with flu vaccines this year. If we are, that’s great. If not, then we discuss what we can do as a region to improve that.
Lorraine also acts as a link between KAMS and the WA Country Health Service (WACHS), which runs hospitals and some remote clinics in the Kimberley.
“We need to have good communication and interaction with WACHS. I broker that at a clinical level, sharing information, understanding what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and how their work intersects with KAMS so we’re not doubling up. COVID-19 made this a necessity; we had to know what was happening in our clinics and hospitals, and how people moved between them. We had to ensure we established smooth transitions to ensure all our patients were looked after well.”
Lorraine also works with the KAMS pharmacist and the WACHS pharmacy to ensure KAMS has good processes for medication and that patients can access what they need after being discharged from hospitals in Perth.
She also oversees clinical services for regional and national disability services, including an early childhood support program. This means KAMS can do NDIS work and help people negotiate and sign up for NDIS programs.
In addition to this, Lorraine also provides clinical leadership for Kimberley Renal Service (KRS), a wholly-owned subsidiary company of KAMS. (Check out our recent article about what it’s like working for Kimberly Renal Services (KRS).)
With all these different responsibilities, a day in the life of a Medical Director is never boring.
“It’s a great job! There’s something different to do every hour. Sometimes, I’m involved in clinical work. But mostly, I’m involved in reviewing strategic documents and lots of meetings to act as a presence for KAMS, to ensure we’re delivering the best service and to oversee Aboriginal health interactions. If an external agency is undertaking a project that involves Aboriginal patients, they may invite me to participate to ensure culturally appropriate care.”
“I love being in a position to promote the Aboriginal community-controlled model of care. It’s different to the Western approach. Instead of thinking in terms of ‘sick’ or ‘not sick’, it’s centred around family, culture, language and country, as well as spiritual, physical and community wellbeing. It’s something that really resonates with me, after almost 30 years in the industry.
“Under the Western model, which is what many people are used to and what I was trained in, healthcare is focused on finding the problems, fixing it, and sometimes, prevention. But we all know that deep down, there are things behind illnesses, things in the background that people need to negotiate to be healthy. I love having the freedom and ability to promote the Aboriginal model of care.”
Lorraine has had many amazing experiences with KAMS, both social and work-related.
“Socially, we have a very active social club. On one occasion, we enjoyed a fabulous outing on a yacht with KAMS staff and family, and got to spot some snubfin dolphins. That was a great day out!
“Work-wise, COVID-19 is still very fresh, but I’m in awe of the KAMS leadership team and our kudos. Those things became so obvious in healthcare organisations during the pandemic. People from all around the country were looking to us, what we were doing, how we were doing it, what communications we were sending – we were invited to be involved on a state and national level. Professionally, that was great to be a part of. COVID-19 could have been a total disaster, but seeing KAMS respond and lead as a well-governed, well-led Aboriginal organisation, I’m very proud to be part of it.”
Lorraine has worked in many organisations, but what stands out for her about KAMS is the strong governance and structures. Clear, established processes means that KAMS team members know how to get what they need.
“Having so much structure can make such a difference when you need to mobilise. For example, during the pandemic, we knew what to do when staff members were sick in remote communities and how to get involved in research that would make a difference to Aboriginal Health. It also means people can come to us and ask for help, and we can form partnerships and respond straight away.”
While KAMS is made up of many different people with their own unique personalities and skills, we all share a common goal of making a positive impact on the health of people in the Kimberley. KAMS attracts people with good values, a strong work ethic and an altruistic attitude.
Looking ahead, Lorraine is excited about getting more Aboriginal people into the workforce at KAMS.
“KAMS has a high Aboriginal employment rate. It’s an important part of our strategic plan. It’s motivating to be able to create positions to attract local Aboriginal people into jobs and potentially, supporting local youth obtain tertiary qualifications to bring their skills to KAMS.”
Outside of work, Lorraine enjoys camping, gardening, fishing, golfing and spending time with family.