15 May 2023

Meet Gennelle, the organisational whiz lightening the load for hospital patients

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Wagga Wagga Base Hospital patient experience officer Gennelle Mills. Photo: Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Gennelle Mills is your go-to person for everything at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

The patient experience officer is known to organise just about everything, from secure parking for a double-boogie trailer full of tools to keeping fur babies fed and walked in their owner’s absence.

When the opportunity for the patient experience role opened up at Wagga Base Hospital, Genelle knew it was ideal for her, having more than 27 years of customer service at a local supermarket on her resume.

“When I saw the position advertised, I was really excited,” Gennelle said. “I was used to chatting to strangers all day long and was comfortable in that space.

“I was looking for work that drew on my outgoing personality but also would allow me to make more of a meaningful difference to other people.

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“When people ask me what I do, it is hard to define because each day is so different and it depends upon what patients ask of me.”

Gennelle understands that the people who turn up at emergency often don’t have time to prepare properly, as they could be from out of town.

Her role involves helping organise things for the patients and caregivers, and passing on any concerns they have to the appropriate staff.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District said Gennelle’s friendly and caring nature and can-do attitude made her a favourite among the patients and staff.

She is an expert in solving matters thrown at her without notice by using her contacts, communications skills and organisational ability.

Gennelle said her role was about checking in on everyone in the emergency department to see how they were and to check whether they needed anything in a non-clinical sense.

“Sometimes it is as simple as moving a car, or calling a family member, to organising shopping and supplies to get people through a few unexpected nights of hospital stays,” she said.

“I feel privileged to assist people and bring a little bit of sunshine to patients and reduce their stress by helping during what can be a stressful time.

“Sometimes there are tricky and very difficult situations to navigate, but you just need to put yourself in their shoes and try to solve the problem to the best of your ability.”

Gennelle wants nothing more than for the patients to feel comfortable and relaxed without stressing over their pets, toiletries or car.

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“Our medical staff are amazing, and I am constantly in awe of the team and how they just jump into action to help save lives,” she said.

“I am inspired by people who seek to help others despite their own trauma or tragedy and want to do my bit for the people in our community.

“I feel proud to be that go-between person that helps to organise the other little things, make a cuppa, be a familiar face to talk to.”

Gennelle wanted to improve the experiences of children at the emergency ward and noticed there wasn’t anything for the young ones while they wait.

As a side project, Gennelle organised a book donation drive last year and, from across the district, she started receiving money and new books to create an activity pack.

“It was so great, and the kids just love them, and for me it is so lovely to spot a little someone looking a bit bored and then give them a little present to brighten their day,” she said.

“It makes hospitals less frightening and seeing their smile makes me happy.”

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