Mercy Health pays tribute to its three outgoing board members

​Virginia Bourke, Gerard Dalbosco, Polly Caldow

We recently said farewell to three board members who served a collective 27 years. The trio have each made fantastic contributions to Mercy Health and played major roles in making it the strong and successful organisation it is today.


Gerard Dalbosco: Strong Mercy ties make for healthy 11-year tenure

Gerard Dalbosco has had a lifelong connection with Mercy Health. The outgoing board member was born at Mercy Hospital for Women in East Melbourne and has spent the past 11 years on the Board and the Finance and Audit Committee, helping build the not-for-organisation into a nationally recognised name.

Before joining the Board, Mr Dalbosco was also involved with Mercy Health in his capacity with professional services giant Ernst & Young during the merger with St Vincent's Private Hospital in the late 1990s. He is now Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Melbourne.

Mr Dalbosco joined the board in 2003 after colleague and former Mercy Health board member Thomas O'Brien AM suggested he join the non-for-profit organisation.

"I was born at the Mercy, as were three of my siblings, so there was a strong family connection already,'' Mr Dalbosco said.

The first thing he noticed was the huge transition Mercy Health was going through at the time. Mercy Health was in the process of selling Mount Alvernia Mercy Hospital in Bendigo and was starting to expand its aged care business via acquisitions in Bendigo, Sandringham and Werribee. Mercy Hospital for Women was also well along the path of planning its relocation to Heidelberg and Werribee Mercy Hospital was expanding to meet important health needs in one of Victoria's fastest growing regions.

"There were massive changes occurring in public health and at the same time we were embarking on the beginning of a new aged care business,'' he said. "And the way in which that business has evolved is extremely pleasing, it is a now very robust business and is a significant player in aged care."

Mr Dalbosco said the breadth of services Mercy Health provided, including health services, aged care, palliative care and home and community care, showed how versatile the organisation was.

"I've been very proud to be involved with Mercy Health, especially because of the way Mercy people care; there is a cultural inclination to put the patient or resident above everything else,'' he said. "Care first is not just something that Mercy say, it's actually what they do day-in day-out."


Polly Caldow: A decade developing a national name

After 10 years on the Mercy Health Board, Polly Caldow could not be prouder of where the organisation is heading.

Ms Caldo has left an indelible mark on Mercy Health playing a major role in growing the not-for-profit organisation across Australia while also maintaining the highest standard of care.

Prior to joining the board, Ms Caldow held a number of high profile positions including Chief Executive Officer of The Body Shop Australia and General Manager of The Big Issue magazine. She has also been a consultant across a number of diverse sectors.

Ms Caldow, who is driven by her passion for social justice and rights of the aged, also has experience in sales, marketing, brand positioning, strategic planning, policy development and currently sits as a director on the Wise Foundation Board.

Her connection with Mercy Health began after giving a presentation at a women's lunch at Corrs Chambers Westgarth in 1999. Sister of Mercy Marie Kehoe was in attendance and approached her several years later to see whether she would be interested in joining the board.

My background isn't health or aged care, however I've seen that as an advantage. I've been able to question the status quo. I've loved every minute of it,'' Ms Caldow said.

Ms Caldow said she was extremely proud of the progress Mercy Health had made in setting up new services and helping more and more people.

"It's gone from quite a small, mid-sized organisation to a large entity which can truly advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable, a real national brand,'' she said. "One of the most important aspects about Mercy Health is the diversity of services and the fact that it tries so hard to stay true of the values of the Sisters of Mercy and Foundress Catherine McAuley.

Ms Caldow was confident Mercy Health would continue to grow, building on the work that had been done during the past 10 years.

"I'm sure Mercy Health will continue to go from strength to strength and have an even larger national presence, we really could go anywhere in Australia, Ms Caldow said. "It is an organisation of really good people, trying to do really good things,''

She will still remain on the Mercy Health's Board Quality Committee.


Virginia Bourke: Healthcare interest has helped Virginia deliver for Mercy Health

Virginia Bourke's passion for improving healthcare has helped steer Mercy Health in the right direction during her six years on the Board.

Ms Bourke, who is presently in-house counsel for the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australian Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG), has been part of numerous changes to Mercy Health, including the recent expansion into Western Australia.

Ms Bourke was initially invited to join the Board by present Chairman Julien O'Connell AM in 2008 but had always had a connection to the organisation with relatives in Australia and New Zealand who were Sisters of Mercy. She said healthcare was an important area for her as it focused on people who were vulnerable like "many of us are at some point in our lives".

"I've had broad involvement with local parishes, schools and smaller not for profit organisations" Ms Bourke said. "And the opportunity to be part of a really professional organisation with a clearly articulated mission and vision really resonated with me."

Ms Bourke said the expansion into Western Australia was a fantastic move for the company as it was a clear statement of Mercy Health's desire and capacity to support ISMAPNG as it became a truly national entity.

"The growth in aged care and the emphasis within the organisation on delivering high quality care really gives you a sense that you're meeting a very important need. It has been extremely rewarding,'' she said.

She also noted the pride she felt when hearing from Mercy Health staff, including leading researchers, who continue to take great strides in finding medical breakthroughs.

Ms Bourke will remain the Mercy Health Corporate Governance, Remuneration and Nomination Subcommittee.

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