Head Orthoptist wins Michelle Beets Award

Katie Geering, Head Orthoptist at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, has committed her career to preserving and restoring vision for thousands of children across New South Wales.

In recognition of her leading work in improving paediatric eyecare, Katie was named this year’s metropolitan winner of the Humpty Dumpty Foundation’s Michelle Beets Memorial Award.

This peer-nominated award acknowledges the commitment and achievements of healthcare professionals who go above and beyond in delivering care to neonatal and paediatric patients.

Katie played a pivotal role in the establishment of a dedicated paediatric orthoptic department at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, which has expanded access to specialist eyecare for children across the state.

In addition to her work in the Orthoptics Department, Katie has been involved in the research of a life-changing gene therapy – LUXTURNA -  which is restoring sight in inherited retinal disease.

She is also contributing to a multidisciplinary clinical trial in Stargardt’s disease, also an inherited retinal disease diagnosed in early adolescence that eventuates in blindness by adulthood.

“It is a privilege to be nominated by my peers and win this prestigious award. For me, this is an incredible recognition of the orthoptics team across SCHN who are doing outstanding work to ensure each child in our care achieves their best-possible visual acuity,” Katie said.

“They do the field work and as their co-ordinator, my achievements are their achievements. I am so proud to work at SCHN and I hope this award raises the profile of what is a small-allied health team.

“Furthermore, to win this award out of so many incredible candidates is a huge honour.”

Winners of the Metropolitan and Regional awards receive $25,000 worth of medical equipment through the Humpty Dumpty Foundation for use in their facility, as well as a $5,000 bursary for professional development, training, or research.

The Orthoptics Department are looking at putting the funds towards a new Humphrey Field Analyser, which will reduce testing time from six minutes to two minutes per eye.

In another triumph for the Network at the awards, Clinical Nurse Consultant Janine Sawyer was named as the Metropolitan Highly Commended recipient.

Janine, who has more than three decade of experience in complex liver disease and transplantation, undertakes a variety of roles within The Children's Hospital at Westmead's Liver Transplantation Unit. This includes coordinating most aspects of the service, mentoring juniors nurses and residents, as well as providing support to families.

She was also a key driver in establishing Telehealth in the liver clinic due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has gone on to greatly assist families.

Congratulations to Katie and Janine on this wonderful and well-earned achievement!

The Michelle Beets Award for Inspirational Paediatric Care honours the memory of Michelle Beets, a nurse who worked at Royal North Shore Hospital and tragically lost her life in 2010.

The annual award is open to individual health professionals employed within NSW Health delivering outstanding paediatric care across the full spectrum of clinical practice.