Greenslopes Private Hospital has bid a fond farewell to two stalwart specialists, who leave behind a lasting legacy as their distinguished medical careers come to an end.
Associate Professor Charles Steadman has followed Professor Hugh Bartholomeusz in announcing his retirement, with both having been involved with the Brisbane hospital since the 1970s.
“Of all the different places I’ve worked, Greenslopes is where I’ve worked the longest,” said A/Prof Steadman, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist who was first based there as a medical student.
He later returned to help found the Queensland Gastroenterology centre and has been connected to Greenslopes for 26 years.
“It’s been wonderful working with my colleagues and building Queensland Gastroenterology into the biggest gastro clinic in Queensland. Our group developed it with the support of Ramsay Health Care and that’s been a great thing,” he said.
Prof Bartholomeusz, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, started at Greenslopes in 1976 as a final-year medical student. A couple of years later he met his future wife, Helga, who was studying nursing at the time.
“We were married in 1979 and we went on to run my practice together for more than 35 years. I believe we really are a great partnership,” he said.
Greenslopes is part of Ramsay Health Care, Australia’s largest private provider, and both specialists paid tribute to the company’s culture of putting people and patients first.
“On a personal level, I’ve loved the engagement the hospital has with its Visiting Medical Officers and it is a great source of comfort that patients are always the priority,” A/Prof Steadman said.
Prof Bartholomeusz added: “I’ve always loved Greenslopes. I love the Ramsay Way, and I have an enormous respect for Paul Ramsay. His philosophy – that if you always put the patients, staff and VMOs first, everything else will follow – was the basis for the group’s success.”
Though he is no longer practising, Prof Bartholomeusz hopes to strengthen ties with Ramsay Health Care for future generations of medical students in his new role as Dean for Australia within Oceania University of Medicine.
“I’d like to get students into placements at Ramsay Hospitals all around the country. I’ve been to the CEO, Danny Sims, and I’m very thankful to him for being so positive in his response,” he said.
Both men have military backgrounds – A/Prof Steadman’s grandfather was a war veteran, while he served in Afghanistan in 2008-09 as an Army Medical Officer.
Prof Bartholomeusz holds the rank of Air Vice-Marshal (Retd) in the Royal Australian Air Force and is a former Surgeon General of the Australian Defence Force Reserves.
For several years he was invited to recite the Ode for Anzac Day services at Greenslopes, which began its long history of caring for servicemen and their families when it opened in 1942 during World War Two.
“I was really so pleased to recite that Ode. I just think it’s the most solemn part of the service, and to perform it in uniform at Greenslopes, a hospital with such strong military links, is an honour,” Prof Bartholomeusz said.
As well as his role at Oceania University, Prof Bartholomeusz will continue as a deputy director of the Commonwealth Government Professional Services Review, and as a board member of the Australasian Foundation for Plastic Surgery.
However, he and his wife are looking forward to visiting the holiday home they built in Queenstown, New Zealand, when travel restrictions are finally lifted.
A/Prof Steadman and his wife Jenny, meanwhile, have moved to the Gold Coast to enjoy their retirement playing golf and visiting museums.
Coincidentally, one of his most memorable patients came from that part of the country.
“She had all the manners of a movie star. All of a sudden her bed came to life and started barking at me,” he recalled of a seemingly routine check-up at Greenslopes.
“The patient had hidden her dog inside her bed – it was one of those fluffy things tucked in the sheets. You certainly don’t expect to be greeted by a dog in a hospital bed!”