Sheila Holcombe, a resident of the Blue Mountains, has been nominated for the 2013 Women of the West Award for going above and beyond her role as CEO of the Nepean-Blue Mountains Medicare Local to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Greater Western Sydney.
Sheila's philosophy has always been to listen to people, and to work in true collaboration with the community to develop positive health outcomes. To this end, she will spend her own personal time travelling to rural areas to consult with the community and ensure their views and needs are heard.
Sheila has a strong belief that customers should have the opportunity to participate in the delivery, design and planning of health programs and services. She works to encourage consumers to have a say, and to be armed with knowledge.
In a previous role as the CEO Blue Mountains GP Network, Sheila established the Consumer Reference Group for chronic diseases, as a means of establishing connections between health consumers and primary health care services. With Sheila's support, the Group was successful in raising approximately $200,000 in funding for conducting chronic disease management programs including the 'Moving On' self management program to assist people who are living with chronic conditions.
Sheila is a strong advocate for the local area, regularly championing for better services in the community. She has also been instrumental in providing support, education and advocacy for GPs who deliver health services.
She is also particularly committed to programs that address the specific health concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and works to ensure that programs and initiatives are appropriate to each community.
An advocate for research, Sheila is a member of the Western Sydney Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee, and she is a Council Member of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association.
Sheila's nomination has been supported by Professor Stephen Leeder from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy. In reference to Sheila's roles in the Blue Mountains Division of General Practice, the Western Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee, and the Nepean-Blue Mountains Medicare local branch, Professor Leeder states:
"In all of these roles Ms Holcombe has manifest a commitment to the community, a deep care for people and a willingness to work above and beyond the call of duty."