Since swapping Shanghai for the Surf Coast a few weeks ago, life is a tad different for Shane Combs as he takes on the job of Director of Clinical Services at Epworth Geelong.

Starting nursing in the 1980s, Shane has worked in the UK, mainly in Cardiothoracics and Emergency, before moving into management back home in WA in Emergency before moving on to ACDS and DCS roles. He had signed on to work in China for five years, signing on as the Chief Nursing Officer for Acute care at the Luye Lilian Hospital before COVID-19 changed everything.

“Luye Medical was in partnership with Cleveland Clinic in the US and I was leading the nursing project management during the construction – we were building two international hospitals - a 140-bed hospital and designing a 500-bed hospital based on the Cleveland clinic model. There is a big appetite for better healthcare amongst the large middle class in China.

“I was there two years and also had professional responsibility for the company’s other hospitals and clinics throughout China. They had a dotted line to me for professional advice on infection control management and professional standards.

“But it all ground to a halt with COVID-19. None of the workers were allowed on site and we were sent back to Australia. I arrived into Sydney at the end of July 2020, so I led the team via Zoom. In February when we were meant to return, we were told that due to COVID19 and other project problems, we were not returning.”

While Shane has mixed feelings about leaving unfinished business in China, his previous links to Epworth drew him back.

“I was an assessor for the ACHS and assessed Epworth in 2016. During the past two and a half years, I had spent some time at the Cleveland Clinic and I found Epworth to be the most aligned to the Cleveland model out of any other hospital in Australia. The Epworth values, pillars and patient centred approach so closely aligns to the way Cleveland operates and they are amongst the top three in the US.”

As a nurse, Shane says it’s all about caring.

“My passion is patients, staff, developing teams and there is a lot of capacity here to help build junior managers to be future leaders. There is a lot of exciting work to be done.”


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