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Mr Symon, who is the SDHB's strategy, primary and community directorate general manager, was presented with the first Graham Crombie Outstanding Leadership Award in a ceremony at the Otago Polytechnic Hub in Dunedin.
Another SDHB Southern Excellence Awards ceremony was held simultaneously at the Bill Richardson Transport Museum in Southland last night.
Board chief executive Chris Fleming said the board's second annual award event was to acknowledge people who had excelled among the board's 4000 staff, which included leaders, clinical staff and technicians, in Otago-Southland.
Mr Symon had led through a year of "transformational change" which had resulted in a significantly improved experience for older people in the hospital system.
The Crombie award was named in honour of the board's late deputy commissioner.
The winners of each category receive a $1000 professional development grant.
Other winners: Behind the Scenes (Unsung Hero), Marion Hape, of Southland, health care assistant, endoscopy, perioperative; Breaking Barriers, Sally O'Connor and Emma Grant, Dunedin, Older Person's Health; Team of the Year, 6AT&R (Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation) Older Persons Health; Improvements of the Year, The Home Team, Dunedin; Maori Health Development, Witana Petley, physiotherapist, Dunedin, and Amy Rosenfeld, speech language therapist, Dunedin; Outstanding Care and Compassion, Christine Carroll (Southland), registered nurse, day surgery and endoscopy; Rising Star, Chloe Hindle, dietitian, Dietitian Outpatients; Southern Future Values Champion, Olywn Thwaites, Annette Calder and Noreen Hall (Southland), medical secretaries, surgical services administration.