Procurement Pioneer - Steve Saunders Retirement

Procurement Pioneer: Steve Saunders.

Procurement Pioneer: Steve Saunders.

Steve Saunders' Retirement Marks Decades of Dedication to
WA’s Sick Kids.

Earlier this year we bid farewell to our long-time Equipment Procurement Officer, Steve Saunders, who is heading into a well-deserved retirement after an astounding 21 years with PCHF.

Steve’s career in healthcare spans well over four decades, including a tenure as the Supply Department Manager at Princess Margaret Hospital and a stint at King Edward Memorial Hospital. While his retirement marks the end of an era, Steve’s legacy of cost-saving negotiations and dedication to securing vital equipment on behalf of the Foundation will live on for many years to come.

“If I can, I’ll save $5 to help the kids. Everything we spend has been donated, so it’s our responsibility that we don’t waste a cent,” Steve said.

Before joining the Foundation, Steve spent two decades at PMH. Upon his first attempt at retiring, then Manager of the Foundation, Leslie Hooper, requested Steve spend a couple of weeks establishing a new procurement system. Staying on for a further 21 years, Steve brought his trademark diplomatic finesse and gentle persuasion to the procurement role, qualities that allowed him to save millions on essential hospital equipment, notably negotiating a remarkable $360k saving on one single item of equipment in the 2000s.

Steve’s impact extends far beyond the office walls. Through his efforts, he directly contributed to improving the quality of care for countless children and families in WA. From state-of-the-art medical devices to everyday essentials, Steve helped to ensure both PMH and PCH had access to the tools necessary to provide world-class healthcare to young patients.

Steve Saunders

One poignant moment in Steve’s career was during the Sarajevo blockade of the Bosnian War in the ’90s, where he played a crucial role in coordinating the shipment of basic medical supplies to Sarajevo’s Children’s Hospital. Assisted by Jim Ord (Chairman of the Surgical Traders’ Association of WA) and Malcolm Roberts (Chief Pharmacist at PMH) Steve was part of a team coordinating the shipment of 137 cartons of essential medical consumables from PMH to Sarajevo. “Other hospitals needed our help,” he said. “And we were there to step up.”

This endeavour required meticulous planning, including facilitating the safe transportation of the donated goods via a special no-cost Qantas flight. Despite many challenges – including communications to the war zone only being possible via fax – Steve and the supply team persevered, working well into the early hours of the morning over several days to ensure the supplies reached their destination.

“I’ve been lucky to work with so many fantastic people across PMH, King Eddie’s and PCH. I’ve also had some fantastic mentors, who’ve said to me, you must do what you enjoy. You spend more time at work than anywhere else, so it’s critical you enjoy what you do.” – Steve Saunders.

Reflecting on his career, Steve emphasizes the profound changes he’s witnessed, particularly in the field of technology. Notably, he was also a champion of new innovations, working alongside the late Frank Gaglio, a pioneer in health computerisation and automation, to assist in rolling out new tech systems across PMH’s supply department.

As Steve’s career exemplifies, the procurement of hospital equipment is vital when it comes to delivering quality kids’ healthcare. However, Steve’s contributions go far beyond the numbers. His charming demeanour, delightful sense of humour, and profound knowledge made him a beloved figure within the PCHF team.

From securing state-of-the-art equipment for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit to sourcing specialized items like Burns Baths and Smileyscopes, every piece of equipment procured has a crucial role in ensuring more WA kids get well and stay well.

Guided by a simple ethos: “I do what I can to help people if I can,” for Steve, it was never work; it was something that he had the pleasure of doing.

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