Community & Business

15 May, 2024

PROBUS Club’s May Report

Last Thursday (May 9), a large attendance of members welcomed the return of our guest speaker, John Alchin.

By Supplied

Guest speaker co-ordinator, Marg Zell with John Alchin, and Linda Wykes. Supplied.
Guest speaker co-ordinator, Marg Zell with John Alchin, and Linda Wykes. Supplied.

By Margaret Schier, publicity officer

Last Thursday (May 9), a large attendance of members welcomed the return of our guest speaker, John Alchin to finish his very interesting story following last month and he did not disappoint us.

John is the nurse manager at Gilgandra Multi-Purpose Service (MPS). He had told us how he became a nurse at the time there were few males in the profession. How he worked his way up to acute care in ICU and then with his wife Belinda travelled to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia for 12 years and some of the nursing experiences in that country.

John continued telling us that the royal family rules the country, there is no government, and they make all decisions. John explained their system in great detail and it was so interesting and different to our elected government here. It is very important to keep the population happy and one way was the price of fuel as they are rich in oil. When they left Australia, fuel was $1 per litre and in Saudi it was three cents. On their return home fuel was $2 per litre here, it had risen to nine cents per litre there.

They lived in a compound with other medical expats from countries all over the world and were transported to work in hospitals. Their son Callum was born there and attended the international school with no charge. It was an amazing educational experience for him.

Part of their contracts per year were three months holiday and as the three largest airlines, Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad are based there, it was easy to visit so many countries in Europe and other parts of the world.

John was the director of nursing as a clinical nurse specialist with 145 ICU beds. This was a huge responsibility as in comparison our whole state of NSW has 25 ICU beds. Each bed had three staff on roster per day. He stressed how important that nurses are the patient’s advocates, especially when they are too sick to communicate with doctors.

John helped set up ICU units and monitored them. COVID was a challenge and he was aware very early something was wrong in the world when Italy had huge problems. Saudi closed their borders and John convinced the heads of medicine to stop general surgery and prepare for ventilating beds. They agreed to his plan to train theatre sisters and endoscopy nurses for two weeks in how to keep patients alive.

The first COVID patient arrived in ICU and four days later there were 400 patients. John had obtained stocks from overseas of emergency equipment and protective clothing in that time. He drilled holes in walls for tubes to patients so the staff could manage medication outside rooms and reduce spread of infection. Also during that time John helped plan the designs for the first ever Women’s hospital in Saudi Arabia.

In 2019 the family returned to Australia and decided to come back to Gilgandra where they bought a property. In 2021 John and Belinda both started working at our MPS. John is the nurse manager of six beds, an emergency department and 30 staff here in Gilgandra. Belinda is the nurse manager at Gulargambone and an incredibly gifted nurse, John told us.

Our hospital has been nominated in the ‘2024 Team of the Year’ for NSW and we wish them well. We are proud of our hospital and the wonderful caring staff. Thank you, John, on behalf of the Probus Club, your talk was inspiring.


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