Portland District Health Announces New CEO

Portland District Health (PDH) has announced Samantha (Sam) Sharp as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Ms Sharp, who lives with her family at Narrawong, is an accomplished and experienced senior executive leader with more than 25 years’ experience primarily across local government and health sectors. She has held senior executive roles for the past seven years and previously worked for PDH in various roles across drug and alcohol and homelessness support.

Ms Sharp says it will be a privilege to help her community to provide the best possible health service for the region.

“I’m looking to help deliver the best health service that we can in Portland,” she said. “The Portland region relies on the hospital; it’s like the light on the hill. Given the tyranny of distance that we work under, it’s important that people know there’s a health service that can support them when they need it.”

PDH Board Chairperson Peter Matthews announced the appointment today, saying Ms Sharp would lead the health service to a positive future.

“Sam is very experienced in the health sector, knows the local community and has previously worked for both Portland District Health and Glenelg Shire,” Mr Matthews said.

“The Board is excited by the vision, energy and expertise that Sam will bring to the role. We are confident that PDH will continue to serve the community of Portland and district with high quality care under her leadership.”

Mr Matthews also paid tribute to interim CEO Karena Prevett who filled the position for more than 12 months. “The Board thanks Karena for her integrity, tenacity and stamina in her leadership of Portland District Health at a time of great challenge and uncertainty,” he said.

Ms Sharp will start on December 6. Ms Prevett will continue in the interim position until then before returning to her previous role as Director of Corporate Services.

Most recently Ms Sharp served as Executive Director Mental Health, AOD System Management Branch – Mental Health and Wellbeing Division for the Department of Health and she was previously Director of Commissioning and Logistics – System Deployment and Insights for the Department’s Covid 19 Vaccination Program Department of Health.

Ms Sharp has also worked with the Western Victoria Primary Health Network, Moreland City Council and held several roles with Glenelg Shire Council from 2008-14 including Aged and Disability Services Manager, Manager Children’s Services, Strategic Emergency Planner and Community Development Officer. She previously worked for the council in 1997.

Ms Sharp grew up in Coburg and on a farm near Bacchus Marsh but had annual holidays at a family property in Allestree before moving to the area in 1997.

“Living here and having previously worked in the hospital, I know what an important service it is for the community and I’m pleased to be able to make a contribution back to the area that has supported me to get my start in health,” she said.

Ms Sharp’s priorities including maintaining exceptional services at PDH and encouraging a healthier and inclusive community with a particular focus on engagement with First Nations people.

“I want to enable all staff to bring their best work and to work together as a team to identify where there are opportunities to improve so we can deliver exceptional service to the region for many years to come,” she said.

“I want to work with the team on clinical governance, ensuring we have the right mix of services and ensuring that we’re looking at how we can deliver better primary care activities and health promotion to keep the community healthy to reduce pressure on acute services.

“We know general health indicators for people in Portland and district are not fantastic so as a health service we want to work towards improving that so we can keep people out of hospital.”

Ms Sharp also aims to liaise with other health services and Deakin University and work with the board to implement the Hillis Report “so we can provide a secure platform for the ongoing delivery of a range of services”.

Ms Sharp describes herself as a strategic and critical thinker committed to innovative leadership.

“I want to ensure there is a positive culture that inspires everyone to understand they have a role to play in the organisation, and that we can engage with staff, the community, GPs, the Board, the Department of Health and other health services to get the best outcomes for the Portland region.

“For me, this is a great opportunity to be able to give back to my community and I feel privileged to be chosen to lead the health service at this time.”