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Janine Clarke exercises her brain everyday, but that’s not her official job.

She works as the Outpatient Appointment Coordinator, which essentially means meeting every single child and family who come to visit Westmead Children’s Hospital – and that’s a lot of names to remember.

Janine began her career at Westmead close to two decades ago, starting as a maternity relief nurse and progressing into the outpatient department before eventually becoming the Outpatient Coordinator.

In her role, Janine strives for convenience and aims to lessen the burden on the families who have to bring their sick children to multiple departments. This includes families from remote areas of Australia, Papua New Guinea and even Vanuatu.

“We see quite a lot of people who have come quite a distance, so my role is to minimise the time spent here for patients,” she said.

“So I arrange for patients to come for a week at a time and see everyone all at once instead of coming for a month or having to come back, and I arrange all their tests and everything.”

Despite the challenging career and long hours, Janine says her daily tasks are like a puzzle that she must try and piece together, and she loves it.

“For me, I find it quite rewarding, especially now I’ve taken on this role because I know that for a long time the families didn’t have this access,” she said.

“Mums would have to ring up all the departments and organise it themselves and it would take so much time – also seeing if they needed accommodation and working out school and everything, so it’s great to take that pressure and stress away.”

While Janine works with hundreds of families each year, she has a fondness for those who are incredibly thankful and appreciate the work she has put in to assist their family.

“I have one particular family, even though they’re pretty local, it’s quite daunting because their child has lots of problems and they’d be here 6 or 7 times a month.”

“The dad almost lost his job because of all the toing and froing, and now I can get them here once every three months makes it easier,” she said.

“And we organised for them to go on their first family holiday to Queensland, and it’s those things that make me really excited and happy to be able to do what I do – by giving them back some time and allowing them to do what they want to do.”

It is the continuous effort displayed by Janine that had her nominated for the Staff Member of the Year award in the NSW Health Innovation Awards just last year.

“I guess I was in shock because I don’t know where that came from - a staff member or some family,” she said.

“It was overwhelming. It’s not about me, it’s about the kids and families and taking that stress off.”

The Bandaged Bear Cup is our chance to celebrate the staff and volunteers of the Children's Hospital at Westmead, with kick off between the Eels and the Bulldogs tonight at 7.45pm. Click through for all the game day info or to buy your tickets!

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