Health professionals celebrated at Riverland Mallee Coorong awards

Dietician Rachel Roberts and speech pathologist Kate Kelsh say Murray Bridge's whole allied health team deserves recognition.

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Dietician Rachel Roberts, physiotherapist Lachlan Sutton, community nurses Diana Whitehouse and Ceri Johns, clinical counsellor Judith de Lang and speech pathologist Kate Kelsh have earned recognition for their work. Photo: SA Health.

They’re some of the Murraylands’ quietest achievers, keeping us healthy and well – and now they’ve been recognised for the important roles they play.

Several health professionals from Country Health Connect Murray Bridge were recognised at a recent awards ceremony for the Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network.

Speech pathologist Kate Kelsh, dietician Rachel Roberts and the Better Care in the Community team were among the winners named during a ceremony at Renmark on June 24.

Ms Kelsh works with young people who are signed up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Murray Bridge and at Karoonda, helping them with their speech or alternative communication methods, as well as with swallowing.

Even after just 18 months, her reputation precedes her – new clients regularly ask for her by name, according to SA Health.

When COVID-19 resulted in a pivot to video calls instead of in-person consultations, she planned new programs for her clients and helped her colleagues adapt to the new technology.

Those colleagues described her as a “superstar” who was respectful, motivated, compassionate, consumer-focused, accountable, resourceful and an excellent servant of the community – hence her receipt of a Riverland Mallee Coorong Cares award.

But she just said she wanted to help people live their best lives.

“I'm very flattered,” she said.

“It just goes to show what great work all the allied health staff do at the service.”

Ms Roberts also works with children, including those who have issues with swallowing or digestion, eating disorders, allergies or intolerances.

With high-intensity treatment options available only in Adelaide, she dedicated herself to learning as much as she could about her field so she could pass on extra knowledge to other dieticians and GPs.

She also pioneered a play picnics group for young local NDIS clients with sensory issues relating to food, helping them explore different foods and improving their health as a result.

Her young achiever award recognised her potential as a leader in her field.

She, too, deflected any praise to her colleagues.

“I really like the team here,” she said.

“While (Kate and I) have been individually recognised for our work, we’ve each seen this an award for our disciplines and for the allied health team more broadly,” she said.

“(We have) so much passion and energy to be serving our community.”

The team behind the Aboriginal artwork at the entrance to Murray Bridge Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital also won an award on the night.