Surgeon and Trustee works across the sector

Surgeon Jasen Ly spends most of his working days at Waikato Hospital, but he also uses his expertise in the private sector, as a surgeon and as a medical trustee on the Braemar Charitable Trust. 

Jasen became a trustee in 2022 following a gentle nudge from a former mentor, now colleague.

“I didn’t need much persuading because I was already working at Braemar and I admired the work the Trust was doing.  As a trustee it’s not just about deciding what to do with the money – and there’s never enough – it’s about how best to direct resources.”

The Trust, which owns Hamilton’s Braemar Hospital, funds charitable activities in the health sector and fundraises to help finance these community health initiatives and in particular, its Community Surgery Programme.

For this programme, health organisations provide referrals for surgery – usually for people who have been on the public waiting list for a long time and who for any number of reasons, would benefit from more timely surgeries. Deciding who receives the operations isn’t always easy, as almost everybody and every agency has differing priorities, but Jasen says the operations can be life-changing.

“We are developing a framework to become even more streamlined, and continue to develop relationships and criteria for referrals,” he says.

He and the other surgeons on the programme give their time and expertise at no cost, with hospital staff and consumables charges met by Braemar Charitable Trust. The hospital provides items at cost as well as providing theatres and ensuring staffing needs are met.

“Clearly it’s dependent on the availability of not just surgeons and anaesthetists but also nurses, anesthetic technicians and the patients themselves,” Jasen says.

He’s encouraging more surgeons to become credentialed specialists at Braemar to participate in the Community Surgery Programme. Already 200 specialists in the region are credentialed to work at Braemar Hospital, and many apply to be credentialed so they can contribute to the Community Surgery Programme.

“It probably only involves two surgery days a year, so it’s not a huge undertaking for each of us, but it can make a big difference in people’s lives.” Some Braemar surgeons and anaesthetists provide free surgeries as part of their surgery time at Braemar, others will be dedicating entire days in November when two full Community Surgery Days will take place at Braemar Hospital.

Jasen’s been at Waikato Hospital since 2016 and is a general and colorectal surgeon. He admits colorectal wouldn’t be everyone’s first-choice specialisation.

“When I started med school I thought I’d work in general practice, where you need a certain amount of knowledge about ‘everything’. But I soon learned I liked the practical side of medicine, like suturing. I made my choice to go into colorectal while I was working with a really good group of people who got me into research. Colorectal surgery involves surgery that can be technically challenging but there’s a lot of variety to it and it is rewarding, and gradually I got to where I am now. It gives me a lot of professional satisfaction.”

Jasen graduated from med school in 2006, spent a couple of years working in his hometown Auckland, then did the rounds of hospitals as new grads do – Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, Palmerston North, North Shore – before completing fellowships in colorectal surgery at Waikato and Brisbane, and when a job came up at Waikato, he decided to apply.

Nearly 10 years on, he enjoys the Waikato lifestyle and he and his family are happily settled in Tamahere, a favourite with Waikato medical professionals. In what little spare time he does have, Jasen’s following his children’s sports and sometimes managing to squeeze in the odd game of golf.

He sits on the Executive Committee of the NZ Association of General Surgeons, is a hospital supervisor at Waikato for training in general surgery and is a credentialed specialist and Medical Associate at Braemar Hospital.

Jasen admits the health sector has major challenges: the public lists are long, and too many people are often waiting far too long for specialist appointments and surgeries.

“But with all the issues facing the sector, I still go to work with a smile on my face. I work with great colleagues, I’m helping patients and I’m helping to train young doctors coming through.”


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