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When her high school friend didn’t turn up to a gymnastics competition, Alice Barach had no way of knowing that both of their lives had changed forever.

“She was thrown out the front windscreen of the car on her way to the competition and nearly died,” Alice says. “This was before cellphones – so it was quite a shock leaving the gym and learning she had a traumatic brain injury.”

The experience left Alice with a lasting passion for improving patient outcomes.

“I was 15 when it happened – quite an impressionable age – and I saw the impact that a neuro rehab physiotherapist made with my friend. It was quite dramatic watching her progress from being in an ICU bed to learning how to walk again.”

The experience inspired Alice to become a neuro rehab physio herself.

“I’ve worked in the Dunedin Hospital for 13 years in a variety of different areas, but neuro rehab is my area of expertise. I love being able to empower patients from all walks of life and help them do things that are meaningful to them.”

Lately Alice has branched out from providing one-on-one care to caring for our entire region.

“In my new role as Clinical Project Manager for the New Dunedin Hospital I’m able to take all my knowledge and use it at a higher level to influence patient care.”

The role is a balancing act – understanding both the needs of the clinicians and the constraints of the architects as the design for the new hospital progresses. But Alice is quick to point out that it’s not the bricks and mortar that excites her about the project – it’s the opportunity to improve patient outcomes.

“It’ll be nice to have a new building, but the thing we can influence as a group of staff is how we work. You don’t often get an opportunity to look at every service you deliver and how to do it better and make it more patient-centred. We have a massive opportunity to change how we deliver healthcare.”

As might be expected from someone whose career has been shaped by empathy, Alice says that kind / manaakitanga is the SDHB value that resonates the most strongly with her.

“Everyone comes to work to do the best job they can do for the patients. We do a great job when we’re kind to each other and listen to each other. Kindness goes a long way.”

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