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So long, farewell Ruth!

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3rd August, 2023

After more than 36 years of dedicated service to NSW Health and NSW Health Pathology, Ruth Rowan, former lab manager at Tweed Heads is taking a well-deserved break and heading into retirement.

From the rugged coasts and green land­scapes of her native North­ern Ire­land, to work­ing in the New Eng­land, Moree and the North­ern NSW Coast, Ruth has pas­sion­ate­ly worked in pathol­o­gy and wit­nessed many changes over the decades.

Ruth has been an inte­gral part of the Tweed Heads Hos­pi­tal com­mu­ni­ty, work­ing in var­i­ous pathol­o­gy depart­ments an cre­at­ing strong rela­tion­ships with­in the Tweed Hos­pi­tal network.

“I returned from North­ern Ire­land in 1988 and have been employed by NSW Health or NSW Health Pathol­o­gy ever since,” she said.

“I start­ed at the relief sci­en­tist in the New Eng­land area before mov­ing to Moree, where I was a gen­er­al­ist sci­en­tist and enjoyed being part of the rur­al community.”

In 2001, Ruth made a sea change and moved over to Tweed Heads, where she was the sci­en­tist in charge of micro­bi­ol­o­gy, before becom­ing the senior sci­en­tist in charge of the Tweed, Mur­willum­bah and Byron laboratories.

Ruth’s col­leagues spoke glow­ing­ly of her tal­ent, skills and mentorship.

“Ruth has been an invalu­able asset to NSW Health Pathol­o­gy and her com­mit­ment, exper­tise and lead­er­ship have not only pro­pelled the pathol­o­gy depart­ment for­ward but shaped the lives and careers of up-and-com­ing sci­en­tists and tech­ni­cal staff,” said cur­rent Tweed Heads Lab Man­ag­er Owen Van Eck.

Beyond her pro­fes­sion­al accom­plish­ments, Ruth has been a men­tor and a source of sup­port for all staff. Her gen­uine care for the well­be­ing for oth­ers has cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment that has nur­tured per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al growth.

Ruth said a career high­light has been work­ing in region­al pub­lic pathol­o­gy because of the oppor­tu­ni­ties it presents.

“Work­ing in rur­al and region­al labs gives you a broad expe­ri­ence and expo­sure to more than you could often achieve in a met­ro­pol­i­tan area. I’ve enjoyed being involved direct­ly with the clin­i­cians and patients to make a diag­no­sis, which is so reward­ing,” Ruth said.

“When I first start­ed work in Pathol­o­gy you had very lit­tle choice for a pro­fes­sion­al career – basi­cal­ly it was nurs­ing or teach­ing. I didn’t want to do either. After school I had a schol­ar­ship in bio­chem­istry but want­ed to trav­el so applied for a trainee­ship with the Com­mon­wealth to work in the Alice Springs Lab­o­ra­to­ry,” Ruth said.

“I’ve stayed work­ing in pub­lic pathol­o­gy for this long because of our patients, and I’m proud to say I’ve treat­ed every patient as I would like to be treated.”

Ruth rec­om­mends the Tweed region as a great place to live and work.
“If you rule out North­ern Ire­land, the Tweed region is God’s own coun­try. You have the water, all year-round sun and you’re just min­utes from an inter­na­tion­al air­port. What more could you ask for?”

Ruth retires from NSW Health Pathol­o­gy leav­ing the organ­i­sa­tion in a bet­ter place. She is proud to have been part of the team plan­ning and redesign­ing a new pur­pose-built new lab­o­ra­to­ry, due to open in 2024 as part of the Tweed Hos­pi­tal Redevelopment.
“If I want to be remem­bered for any­thing, it’s my involve­ment in the design­ing of the new lab­o­ra­to­ry, which is due to open next year. Our staff work tire­less­ly, often behind the scenes and out of the spot­light. They deserve to work in the best lab envi­ron­ment, as their con­tri­bu­tions every day help pro­tect the health and safe­ty of our com­mu­ni­ties,” Ruth said.

After a stel­lar career, it’s now time for a new chapter.

Thanks for your incred­i­ble work Ruth – enjoy retirement.

As the Irish say:

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields
Until we meet again.


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