Ashburn psychiatrist steps up to take the helm

Ashburn Clinic senior management team (from left) operations and strategy director David Murray,...
Ashburn Clinic senior management team (from left) operations and strategy director David Murray, medical director Dr Megan Bryan, quality director Annabel Millichamp, nursing and allied health director Monique Lammers and deputy nursing and allied health director Ian Smith. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
After a hectic year of construction, Covid-19 lockdowns and staff changes, private mental health provider Ashburn Clinic is hoping for a quieter 2022, pandemic permitting.

The clinic enters the new year with a new medical director, long-serving staff member Dr Megan Bryan replacing Dr Brett Ferguson, who stepped down in December after 12 years at the helm.

"I did have to think about it, but it seemed like an obvious transition because I have been here as a consultant psychiatrist since 2009," Dr Bryan said.

"There would be very few other people in New Zealand who have therapeutic community experience as a psychiatrist ... it helps the staff, too, because most of us have established working relationships."

Ashburn is home to 40 people at present, a mix of public and private patients receiving help to live with a variety of mental health, addiction and eating issues.

Its community approach means residents are consulted about management of what they are asked to consider as their home, up to and including for how it will operate if the pandemic affects staffing — including the possibility of residents having to run the clinic, as patients of Seacliff had to do in 1918 when the influenza pandemic meant most staff could not come to work.

"We will likely have shortages of staff and we asked them if there was any anxiety about that and they thought not," nursing and allied health director Monique Lammers said.

"The patient group are not as preoccupied as they might have been during the first lockdown and restrictions were new to all of us. Now, they are just joining in the preparation and being as ready as they can."

In December 2020, Ashburn officially opened a new wing and a tree planted by director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield to mark the occasion is now flourishing outside its meeting room.

Operations and strategy director David Murray said some small remedial work needed to be done, but while there were suggestions for more building work nothing concrete had been decided yet.

Dr Bryan said she envisaged making few major changes to how Ashburn worked, but having worked in the clinic as a trainee she was keen to strengthen its role in educating new practitioners.

"We want to consolidate and strengthen what we have and continue to do what we’re good at, which is work with people with severe trauma and complex mental health needs," she said.

"Finances are always a consideration and we have to be mindful of those, but at the moment it is a new year and we are building a new team and consolidating the way we want to go forward."



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