An extraordinary chapter ends and another starts at Bass Coast Health


The outgoing chair of BCH, Mr Don Paproth, is passing the baton to Deputy Chair Ian Thompson after Don’s seven years at the helm of Bass Coast Health.

And one of his proudest achievements is the Cancer Centre that opened at Wonthaggi Hospital in April 2021 with Federal Government financial support sourced by Monash MP Russell Broadbent, plus a huge donation from the Rigby Family.

“About a decade ago we watched a dear friend of ours, Kevin O'Halloran, struggle through a long battle with pancreatic cancer which he eventually lost. We took turns driving him to Traralgon,” Mr Paproth said.

“The journey was not easy for him and I always thought what a wonderful thing it would be if his chemo could have been delivered in Wonthaggi.

“Well now it is. It's too late for Kevin but it won't be for anyone now or in the future.”

Stage one of the Wonthaggi Hospital Expansion - due to open in December - follows as a close second on Mr Paproth's list of achievements.

"I look at the magnificent new facilities at Wonthaggi Hospital and I'm so thrilled that this is happening. Apart from the obviously impressive building itself, the new operating theatres and sterilising area, the new Emergency Department and the wonderful inpatient facility are brilliantly designed.”

Playing a major role in the delivery of these and other projects for the community that he loves is of enormous satisfaction to Mr Paproth as he steps down from the Board due to personal family reasons.

He is proud of BCH's local focus in the services it offers and the economic boost it gives. With more than 1200 employees, BCH is the largest single employer in the local region and is continuing to grow.

"In addition, both the Government and the Opposition have pledged over $250 million to build stages two and three of the WHE." he said.

“We have also received extraordinary support from the Department of Health as we have grown as a sub-regional health service and we earnt that support by delivering what we were asked to deliver: growing our workforce and growing the number of services.”

Mr Paproth spoke of the staff of BCH in glowing terms.

"The fact that our staff kept this place together over the last few years during COVID is astonishing. They covered for each other, did that bit extra for our patients and maintained a sense of humour and a sense of duty at all times. I take my hat off to them,” he said.

“This is their health service, this is my health service. Everyone comes to work or to the Board table to make this a better service, and to grow our services so that people get care locally.

"It is difficult to leave but personal circumstances have made it necessary. There are two factors that make it a little easier to go. First, we can look back with pride at what we have achieved over these last seven years and, secondly, I am handing over to someone I trust and believe in completely,” he said.

"Ian will do a wonderful job."

As incoming chair, Mr Thompson has pledged to continue the work of the Board developed by Mr Paproth, including the construction of the Phillip Island Community Hospital, the second and third stages of the WHE, and a continued focus on quality and safety.

‘We have a fantastic staff and through the investment in infrastructure we are giving them the tools and environment to excel,” Mr Thompson said.

“We will maintain our focus on quality and safety, and providing access to a broader range of health services locally.

“I am honoured and enthusiastic to be appointed Board Chair. We have a talented and experienced Board and I will be ably assisted by Deputy Chair Nicky Chung. I’m looking forward to the journey of continued improvement. We always try our best and we are working on improving our best every day.

“I feel I have served a good apprenticeship having been Deputy Chair for the last three years. Since joining BCH I have chaired the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee and have been a member of the Quality and Clinical Governance Committee and Nominations Committee.”

Mr Thompson joined the BCH Board in July 2016 following more than 30 years’ experience in financial markets in Australia and the United Kingdom. He spent most of his career with leading global credit rating agency, Standard & Poor's Rating Services, progressing to be Senior Managing Director and Global Chief Credit Officer.

His community service also extends to being a member of the board of the Snowdome Foundation - a charity that funds blood cancer research - an independent member of the State Sport Centre Trust’s Audit and Risk Committee, and a member of the Uniting Church’s (Victorian and Tasmanian Synod) Risk Management Committee.

Mr Thompson’s also a board member of the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses, and the Finance and Risk Committee of the Australian College of Optometry.

“With a mother in aged care through to two beautiful young granddaughters, I am living a broad spectrum of healthcare needs, and can’t emphasise enough the importance of high-quality, person-centred care delivered locally,” he said.

“Our new clinical services have a strong focus on safety and quality, service growth, partnerships and supporting our people.”

Mr Thompson and his family have a house in Cape Woolamai. He said joining BCH’s board was a great way to contribute to, and be a part of, the thriving Bass Coast community.

“It is so rewarding. We have an amazing group of volunteers and auxiliaries, coupled with strong support from local business and community groups,” he said.

“I really think that it’s our community that makes our service strong and sets us apart. Our staff are our greatest asset, many of whom are locals, or like me, have chosen to join our community.”

Mr Paproth’s board position is being filled via a process to fill vacancies on health service boards across Victoria.