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Meet our new CEO

Meet our new CEO

Hello to all of you, and thank you for the great welcome!

At the end of Week 1, I wanted to share about about who I am and how I have found myself here at our much-loved Cranford Hospice.

I am from a small farming village north of Toronto Canada. My grandfather was a potato farmer and grew Christmas trees when artificial trees were not a thing! You may have heard of Penetanguishene Ontario, as it is the home of Brian Orser who was a world figure skating champion in the late 80’s, and the Howard brothers who were big in international curling in the 1990’s.

I met my wife, who was born in Wellington, in Vancouver when doing a Master of Nursing at UBC and very happily followed her back to NZ. It was easy to find work and the Waikato ICU provided my first paid employment in NZ. We stayed on, which has proven to be a wonderful decision.  Lucy and I have three grown children – Eamon, Nina and Eli.

I have always been the sort of person who cares for and shows empathy toward others, someone who volunteers for their community (Lions, Rotary, tree planting etc). I also had aspirations to see the fields beyond those my grandfather owned and travel, so nursing appealed very much as a profession. It seemed to me then and now, that there were so many great career options. Nursing has proven to be a great qualification & passport to the world. I recommend a career in health to everyone who asks!!

Many of you will remember Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I distinctly recall studying the five stages of grief during my nursing study days and being fascinated by the research and how to apply the theory in practice. Over the years I often referred back to this body of knowledge when dealing with grieving family members in end-of-life situations.

In my practice I often wished there was more education and support for nurses (mandatory education!) around how to deal with conversation around death and dying, and planning for the last days of life. As you all know, this educational offering for other health professionals has become an important component of the Hospice service, one which has continuously “talked to me.”

In my opening remarks on day one, I talked about the significance of planting a tree – even though you won’t be around to benefit from the shade it might cast, you know it will be good for the future. Educating other health professionals on how to have conversations about difficult subjects seems to me to fall into that example…. We don’t know who or how others will benefit, but we do it knowing they will. What a great ripple effect!

I deliberately waited a few days before writing to introduce myself knowing I would want to share some of the positive first impressions. In a nutshell:

  • Around 200 patients on the books at any one time and the teams in the inpatient unit, community, allied health, family & grief support who support them… BEAUTIFUL!
  • Over two hundred volunteers – WOW!
  • Retail work and Hospice fundraising – INCREDIBLE!

Something that I often share with people is that I love the outdoors and local wildlife. My family and I have walked all the great walks of New Zealand, except the newest one. I am often found pottering in my Havelock North garden doing what I call “active relaxation”. 

I already see that there are so many amazing things happening here at Cranford and I look forward to working with the team on the the organisation’s strategy, learning more about our new Hospice project at Chesterhope, and about getting out and about to meet people, including our retail and volunteer sectors who contribute so much to the work that we are able to do for the community. 

Once again, thank you so much for the great welcome. Let’s hope this sunshine holds up and we can enjoy a bit of summer over the weekend. I’m looking forward to Week 2!

Andrew Lesperance
Chief Executive Officer * Kaiwhakahaere Matua