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Loving the job . . . Ruth Kibble is pleased to be the new chief executive of Oamaru Hospital. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Oamaru Hospital is a huge part of this district, and the people who work there have important roles to play in challenging times. Today, the Oamaru Mail starts a regular series profiling staff. We start at the top – Ruth Kibble is the new chief executive. Tyson Young catches up with her to chat about her role.

Q Where do you hail from, Ruth?
I was born and bred at Seacliff, a small town just north of Dunedin. My parents ran a dairy farm there. I went to primary school in Seacliff and then did high school in Dunedin.

Q What did you do before working at Oamaru Hospital?
I’ve worked in healthcare all my life. I originally trained as a physiotherapist when I left high school. Throughout my life, I have worked in lots of health areas, including high school special education, community services, and several district health boards.

Q How did you end up in Oamaru?
That’s an interesting one. I worked in Dunedin most of my life, except for when I did a year’s training in Invercargill. Eight years ago I saw a really interesting job in Timaru, so I applied for that and got that. When this opportunity came up in Oamaru, I was really keen to come on board. I’m very much [about] small towns, and my parents lived here for 25 years after they retired, so it’s safe to say I’ve got quite an affinity for rural, provincial New Zealand.

Q How long have you been at the hospital?
I came to the hospital in late July when I was asked to come into a supportive role to see how I could support the team here. I’ve been in the chief executive role since the second week of September.

Q What has that been like?
It’s been great, actually. The community is good, the staff here are good, it’s a great facility. I’ve got some challenges but actually it’s got all the ingredients to make a really great cake.

Q What’s the best part about the job?
For me, it’s the challenge – I love the challenge. I love being able to work with a team and make things better. I want my legacy to be something that the place is in a better space from when I started to when I leave. I believe Oamaru people deserve their healthcare services, and I’m committed to making sure that we strengthen and look to grow them.

Q Do you believe that the Oamaru Hospital does well overall?
Yes. I believe we’ve got some challenges across a number of fronts but it does very well. As I say, there’s some real strength in here but we just need to look at how we can be really efficient in the way we do things, so we can get the most out of our funding. We’re going through a process that will require us to change – we do need to change.

Q When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Outside of work, my two main passions are sailing and cycling. My husband and I own a trailer-sailer boat, so quite often we go to Lake Benmore to sail and fish. More recently, we also got into cycling. Last year, we travelled to Europe, where we cycled the length of the Rhine River from Zurich, Switzerland, to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Q If you were prime minister for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do and why?
I would first just step back and get a sense of where everything is at for the whole range of the community. I would be really interested in our families and what life is like for young families in New Zealand. I think there’s some young families that do really well, but I think there’s some that struggle.

Q If you could catch up with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I would like to catch up with people like Mother Teresa – people who have been in that caring role where they have given themselves selflessly to help people. She is one person I’d love to catch up with. If I’m allowed a second person to choose, it would be Prince Harry. I think he’s got some qualities in how he interacts and engages with people.