Port Fairy hospital's chief executive has resigned after more than four years in the job.
Jackie Kelly will step into the role of chief executive at Benalla Health to be closer to her daughter and first grandchild in Melbourne.
It was quite a change of lifestyle when Ms Kelly moved from her long-held position in community health in Melbourne to a hobby farm in Narrawong with six donkeys.
She worked at Heywood Rural Health for two years before taking the helm of Moyne Health Services for the last four-and-a-half years.
One of the key challenges in the role has been attracting and retaining a healthcare workforce.
Staff shortages were a problem "long" before starting and will likely worsen in the next 12 months, Ms Kelly said. "That's always a challenge in rural and regional areas," she said.
"The medical workforce doesn't want to do on-call, I think doctors now want that work-life balance and you can understand that so it's certainly not a criticism at all, it's just that we have to manage that in a rural environment.
"I think COVID has really taught us that we can develop services based on the needs of our community, but it's attracting the workforce to be able to implement those services that's always a challenge."
Port Fairy Hospital has been no exception, with its urgent care centre moving to a nurse-led model after it lost doctors on call.
"It's great having new infrastructure but it's actually being able to provide those services out of the new infrastructure that is also the challenge, and will continue to be the challenge," Ms Kelly said.
"I think we've got a great team at Moyne and they'll certainly rise to that challenge.
"We're not an emergency centre, we don't treat acute issues so we will always refer those on to South West Healthcare."
Attracting students to study and train locally will be the key to shoring up a medical workforce in the region.
"I think COVID has certainly seen more people coming to the regions but it hasn't actually equated to actually getting our vacancies filled," Ms Kelly said.
This makes partnerships with other health services like South West Healthcare all the more vital.
"We can't provide everything so if we want to be a one-stop shop we need their expertise and we need their services to help us along that journey," she said.
"We have a very positive relationship with South West Healthcare and that's really helpful to us."
Reflecting on her time with Moyne Health Services, Ms Kelly said it was the little things that made regional healthcare stand apart - such as an afternoon with the aged care residents and her donkeys.
"I've got donkeys and I promised the aged care residents for a long time that I would bring the donkeys and they could have a ride on the cart, and I finally did it a couple of weeks ago," she said with a laugh.
"What was so extraordinary was that as soon as they were seated, they started talking about their childhood and their experiences.
"It made a real difference to each and every one of those people and it just made me realise that what our staff do, the extra stuff that they do for our residents, makes a huge difference in their lives.
"Everything comes back to what we can do on a day-to-day basis to make a difference to people's lives and to ensure that they get the best care - every person, every time.
"I think from all the organisations that I've worked in over my career, Moyne Health is one of the best - it has excellent staff, it has fantastic systems, it functions really well and it has a really active and engaged board.
"It also has a really passionate executive team and that cascades down to our staff team.
"I wouldn't say that about all the organisations I've worked for but I would particularly say that about Moyne Health. It is a very, very good little health service."
The MHS board has appointed Katharina Redford as acting CEO until mid-January when the top position will be advertised.