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Public Hospitals Division – St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne

Today, St Vincent’s operates from 16 sites across greater Melbourne, including a major teaching, research and tertiary referral centre situated in Fitzroy, sub-acute care at St George’s Health Service Kew, palliative care at Caritas Christi Hospice, as well as aged care, correctional health, mental health and community centres, pathology collection centres, general practice services and dialysis satellite centres.

In 2017-18, St Vincent’s experienced 65,209 separations of acute inpatients from the hospital. The hospital also recorded 191,755 outpatients across specialist clinics and health independence programs, and attended to 48,301 presentations at its Emergency Department. A total of 39,229 discharged bed days of care were provided in rehabilitation and geriatric services, and 10,136 discharged bed days of palliative care were provided.

In 2018, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne celebrates 125 years since the Sisters of Charity founded the hospital in a small terrace house on Victoria Parade, at a time when Fitzroy was one of the most disadvantaged parts of Melbourne.

The Sisters’ caring spirit inspired the hospital’s tagline for its 125th celebration and encapsulates its journey and mission: ‘St Vincent’s Cares. Always has. Always will’.

In the same year, Caritas Christi Hospice in Kew celebrates its 80th anniversary. Under the auspices of St Vincent’s, Caritas Christi Hospice continues to play a leading role in palliative care in Victoria, providing excellent end-of-life-care for patients and much needed support for their families.

Building works will soon begin on a new 120 bed Residential Aged Care Facility at the rear of the property and a fully redeveloped 26-bed Palliative Care facility at the front. This redevelopment will cement the future of Caritas Christi and improve amenities and facilities for patients, staff and visitors.

St Vincent’s Melbourne’s well-established and recognised reputation in palliative care gave it the foundation to provide a leading voice in the debate on appropriate end-of-life care and the introduction of voluntary assisted dying legislation in Victoria during 2017. The hospital’s palliative care specialists and experts provided thought leadership and were regularly sought out by media for comment.

In February 2018, St Vincent’s Melbourne proudly announced the Governor of Victoria, Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, as the Patron of St Vincent’s Hospital. This great honour recognises the important role St Vincent’s has played in the lives of Victorians.

St Vincent’s was one of 11 Victorian health services chosen to take part in the Emergency Access Collaborative (EAC) aimed at improving waiting times and patient flow at its Emergency Department (ED).

St Vincent’s structured, disciplined and cross-functional approach to the challenge not only improved emergency access and patient care, but created a solid foundation on which future improvements can be based.

Performance has improved in the following ways:

  • Category 3 (urgent) patients seen within timeframe improved from 61.1% in 2016-17 to 76% in 2017-18.
  • Category 4 (semi-urgent) patients seen within timeframe improved from 62.6% in 2016-17 to 95% in 2017-18.
  • Ambulance off stretcher time of under 40 minutes has improved from 69.6% in 2016-17 to 79.9% in 2017-18.

During 2018, St Vincent’s Melbourne was at the forefront of a range of exciting medical discoveries and research.

Collaborators on the ‘Just-in-time’ implants are using combined 3D printing, robotic surgery and advanced manufacturing to create tailored implants for patients with bone cancer, dramatically improving patient and health care outcomes.

The project aims to bring the technology to the operating theatre. While patients are having their cancer removed in one theatre, in the theatre next door, an implant could be custom-printed to precisely fill the space left after removal of the diseased bone.

Just-in-time implants will transform the delivery of care for people with bone cancer. The process will expand the surgical options available to patients and surgeons and increase the potential for limb saving surgery.

In a world-first, scientists at St Vincent’s Melbourne are using a combination of human cells in an ambitious bid to grow liver tissue for transplants.

The tiny experimental organs — developed from cells donated by cancer patients — will be used to test drugs and eventually treat disease. The team is using a novel combination of three types of human cells, a human derived liver gel and a biodegradable scaffold to create the mini livers.

Development of the organoid technology would form the cornerstone of generating ‘new’ liver tissue for transplants, to treat a wide variety of end-stage liver disease.

And in May 2018, St Vincent’s world leading Biopen was announced as one of 11 research projects to share in a $10 million grant, by the Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.

Collaboratively developed by St Vincent’s, University of Melbourne, University of Wollongong and Swinburne University, the Biopen uses 3D technology to print live cells to repair damage to cartilage, muscles, tendons and bones.

St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne’s Safe Haven Café

In May 2018, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne opened a unique café to cater specifically for people seeking mental health support.

The Safe Haven Café is an after-hours drop in centre at the hospital that is modelled on a successful UK service which has been shown to reduce social isolation for vulnerable people and help them maintain their mental health on an ongoing basis.

Emmy-Lou Hamley, a specialist mental health clinician at St Vincent’s Melbourne and project manager of the café, said it was designed to provide mental health patients with a support option other than the hospital’s Emergency Department.

“Emergency departments are for people in pretty dire situations,” she says. “We realised there was a group of people who needed somewhere else as an alternative. If someone isn’t in acute distress, where can they go to talk to somebody?"

The café was not designed to replace clinical mental health interventions, but to allow people to explore what options may be available to support them, and identify relevant local services.

“Navigating the mental health system in times of crisis is a real challenge for consumers and their loved-ones. People often don’t know where to go, and can end up in the wrong places,” said Jenelle Linton, General Manager Mental Health, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.

Along with tea and coffee, the café has peer support workers and volunteers with a lived experience of mental health issues, who work alongside mental health professionals to provide a safe, therapeutic space for people needing it.

“Funded by Better Care Victoria, the Safe Haven Café is an investment in alternative support for people with mental health issues, and empowering them to have more control over their wellbeing,” Ms Linton said.