Farewelling two Johns

For the majority of their careers, Dr John Harvey and Dr John Curotta have dedicated their working lives to The Children's Hospital at Westmead. Today, after more than two decades of service, they have passed on the baton as they head into retirement.

Since starting at the Hospital in 1981 and 1995 respectively, both Johns have became household names in their fields, contributing enormously to the advancement of children's healthcare. Their passion and dedication for their work saw them both become heads of their departments as well as well-respected and much-loved clinicians by colleagues and families alike.

For Dr John Harvey, it was a role as a registrar in thoracic surgery that first drew him to the Hospital when it was still located at Camperdown. Over the years though, he developed a special interest in burns treatment and prevention and as his expertise grew, so did his passion.

Becoming head of the Burns Unit in 2002 and co-founding the Children's Hospital Burns Research Institute (CHBRI) in 2005, Dr Harvey has played a key role in establishing the burns service as a world-class facility. He has been integral in raising awareness about burns prevention and treatment, not only in Australia, but internationally and has been instrumental in introducing laser therapy for the management of burns scars for burns patients in New South Wales and beyond.

"Burns was his passion and his mission," Dr Gordon Thomas, a colleague and close friend of Dr Harvey, said. "He has built the burns service into the leading facility it is today, and through a lot of hard work, fundraising and research, has left behind a lasting legacy."

A humble, energetic and charismatic man, Dr Harvey attributes his love and passion for his career to the place and people he works with.

"This organisation has been an unbelievable place to work and the last ten years working in the Burns Unit have been some of the best years of my life," Dr Harvey said.

"In the Burns Unit, we are all sustained by the passion and the need to do the very best we can for our patients and families and that's what makes what we do so special."

It is a similar story for Dr John Curotta, who's relationship with the Hospital first began in 1995.

As a Visiting Medical Officer, Dr Curotta's specialty was in Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgery. For ten years, Dr Curotta maintained this role until he officially joined The Children's Hospital at Westmead's team as a full-time surgeon and head of ENT Services in 2005.

His work as a surgeon has seen him change the lives of many patients and families with ENT problems, including those with cleft palate, chronic ear disease, deafness and microtia.

But his work extended beyond the operating theatre. Dr Curotta was also a passionate advocate for children's health and safety, becoming an avid spokesperson about the dangers of button batteries, a driving force in establishing ENT outreach programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and a frequent flyer on overseas medical missions to provide surgery to those less fortunate - all of which was underpinned by his active role in research.

It is no surprise that, given this, Dr Curotta is seen by his colleagues as a celebrity, a mentor, a teacher and a friend.

Like Dr Harvey, Dr Curotta's dedication to his career comes down to the environment he works in.

"I could not have been a staff specialist in any other hospital. The love, cooperation and respect for the staff, patients and families is one of a kind, you don't see that anywhere else," Dr Curotta said.

Although retirement will take some getting use to, both Johns have already started looking to the future. Dr Harvey is planning to spend some more time on his research while Dr Curotta will be using his free days to focus on photography.

And while they both leave behind big shoes to fill, they also leave behind an outstanding contribution that has set up a world-class path for generations to come.