HIMAA is honoured to confer Life membership on Lorraine van Gemert, who has made a profound impression on the health information profession and the broader healthcare community over many years.
Lorraine has been committed to maintaining the highest standards of health information management throughout her career. Her expertise in clinical coding and management has contributed significantly to improving patient care and outcomes. Her ability to adapt to evolving technologies and regulations has been instrumental in ensuring the accuracy and integrity of healthcare data.
Lorraine was an active HIMAA South Australia Branch Convenor. Her professional network spans all states and she is widely respected among her peers.
Lorraine is now enjoying her retirement, spending more time with her family, on the golf course, or with her black Labrador Binki at the beach.
Thank you to Lorraine’s daughter Lexie (who inadvertently followed her mother’s footsteps into health information management, and is also a HIMAA member) and to South Australia Branch Convenor Terry Seery for providing these interesting insights into Lorraine’s career.
Lorraine completed an Associate Diploma in Medical Record Administration in 1976 at the Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences (now part of La Trobe University) Melbourne, and was a registered member of the Australian Medical Record Association from 1977 till 2004 upon leaving the health sector for a stint with the South Australian Police in a project manager role supporting national law enforcement information-sharing initiatives.
Lorraine returned to the healthcare sector in 2017 renewing her membership and involvement in HIMAA as the SA Branch coordinator. She undertook a role as Health Information Manager at St Andrews Hospital (a small private hospital in Adelaide) until her retirement at the end of 2022.
Lorraine’s first job as an MRA (medical record administrator) was in a newly created role at Swan Hill District Hospital where she enjoyed country life over 4.5 years broken by the inevitable overseas trip. As an inexperienced new graduate who didn’t really know anyone, she was grateful for the mentorship provided by Mrs Darryl Obrien based in Bendigo.
This was followed by a move across to Adelaide to the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park facilitated by Judith Young, the Commonwealth National Veterans affairs coordinator. This role involved the review and restructure of the Medical Record Department and associated services including conducting medical terminology courses for the Department of Veteran Affairs in SA. These were the days of large typing pools when electronic typewriters had only just been invented.
After 18 months Lorraine moved to the considerably larger 700 bed Queen Elizabeth a metropolitan teaching hospital as part of a consultancy provided by the Lincoln Institute. This was a mentored role working with Mary Ell, Head of School at Lincoln Institute, and a team of qualified MRA professionals filling both management and consultancy positions at various times (Ros Gunthorpe, Val Thiessen, Rhonda Holliday, Julie MacDonald, Tracy Gough, Libby Owen, Di Simpson). Such a wonderful opportunity to gain valuable experience in managing a wide range of staff, services, and functions.
This was the era when the concept of quality assurance (a passion of Mary Ell’s) gained importance in the hospital and healthcare sector. In 1987 Lorraine was seconded for 3 years to the South Australian Medical Association to establish a Quality Assurance Resource Centre to promote and foster QA activities within the SA health care sector. A highlight was undertaking the South Australian component of the Federal AMA National Endoscopy audit and providing project assistance to the SA Health Commission in conducting the first Australian evaluation of an appropriateness of admission protocol (AEP).
With the continual shortage of qualified MRA professionals in South Australia she was coerced by Angela Cook from SA Health to provide assistance to the SA Institute of Technology (1989) to develop a Health Information Management course as part of the Institutes School of Health Service Management. The SA Health Commission sponsored this initiative resulting in the recruitment of a senior lecturer, Fiona Carine. Unfortunately, as happens with many Medical Record/Health Information courses around Australia, tertiary sector politics got in the way and the new course did not survive. Thank heavens Curtin University in WA was able to offer distance education for students to continue at that time.
On completion of the AMA secondment 1990 Lorraine took up a position with the SA Health Commission to try and fill the very big shoes of Angela Cook (past HIMAA president) who had moved to the private sector. In 1992 the role developed into the Chief Medical Record Administrator position and Lorraine established a Medical Record Advisory Unit gaining adequate resources to fund state wide strategies and employ additional qualified staff to support medical record and clinical coding services across South Australia along with the development of new initiatives.
Lorraine held this role over 14 years working with many passionate and dynamic health information colleagues. Key highlights over this period of her career included:
- Participation in the development of the new Australian ICD-AM coding standards to underpin the implementation of Casemix funding in Australia.
- Establishment of a SA state-wide coder training program utilising the HIMAA distance education program, to achieve a minimum training standard for all SA public hospital coders (1993).
- Establishment of a new salary and career structure for SA coders in response the implementation of Casemix-based funding for SA Public Hospitals.