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October 2016



SVHA Newsletter

A message from our Group CEO, Toby Hall


EnVision2025 Strategy

Our strategy of serving, seeing and striving for something greater is well embedded into our work at St Vincent’s. This is a result of the great work you do. First, I want to thank you for your work and also to let you know how we are travelling performance-wise.

Serving something greater

Our Mission is at the heart of everything we do. We seek to bring God’s love to those in need through the healing ministry of Jesus and recognise that every piece of our work contributes towards this goal. Every patient we serve, every new facility we develop, every piece of research drives us to extend this Mission. 

Seeing something greater

During the year, work has progressed on our new private hospital in Griffith, NSW (opening to the public in October 2016) and our new facilities in Werribee, Victoria.

Expansion of our aged care activities includes our new 106-bed facility in Sydney’s Bronte opening November 2016 and new builds underway in Maroochydore, Queensland and Werribee, Victoria. We acquired four aged care facilities and completed extensions to three existing facilities. This will see our aged care capacity double in the next year.  

At St Vincent’s Public Hospital Melbourne, we are constructing a Bio Fabrication Centre as part of the Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery. And we have recently opened two radiation bunkers at the hospital in partnership with Genesis care.  

Striving for something greater

Holy Spirit Northside Private Hospital carried out the first robotic hip transplant in the Southern Hemisphere using technology that allows surgeons to perform more accurate hip and knee replacements delivering a far better outcome for patients.

Researchers at the Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery in Melbourne have developed a robotic arm that could return full movement and the sense of touch to amputees. 

So much research is carried out across the group that in the next year we will produce a group-wide report on our research efforts.

Our performance 


We made budget and achieved our target surplus of $117 million and 26 of 28 sites hit their targets. This is important as our surplus support new developments, new facilities and new technology. 

In 2016, SVHA group and partners generated revenue of $2.2 billion and was the 11th largest Private organisation in Australia.   

Patient experience 

  • Care provided by nurses rated the highest across all facilities in Australia* (sitting in the 99th percentile).
  • All our hospitals and aged care facilities are meeting accreditation requirements. 
  • Likelihood of patient recommending SVHA to a family member or friend* - 76.1
  • Hand hygiene**: 82.2% – 12% higher than the national benchmark of 70%.
  • Infections**: Infection rate of staph aureus bacteraemia – 0.48 per 10,000 patient care days – less than half the infections identified in the previous 12 months. National benchmark <2.0 infections per 10,000 patient care days.

*Source: Results of Press Ganey surveys
** Results of SVHA’s internal monitoring 


Our Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) continues to improve down from 12.55 LTIFRs in 2014-15 to 8 in 2015-16. This meant 150 less people were injured compared to two years ago.


  • Representatives from St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne appeared before the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence to talk about their ground breaking work in introducing best-practice systems to better identify elder abuse among their patients.
  • Launch of SVHA’s policy on reducing alcohol-related harm and violence, which achieved wide spread media coverage and was shared extensively on social media. 
  • Speaking forcefully and publicly about the need to take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to sexual discrimination, harassment and bullying in health care, not just among senior male clinicians, but staff at every level and in every organisation. 
  • Our joint submission with the Centre for Palliative Care to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into End of Life Care, and representatives from St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne giving evidence to the Inquiry.
  • Our strong ongoing advocacy on the need to establish a Centre of Excellence for methamphetamines use resulting in the Commonwealth Government allocating $10 million to establish such a centre with the provider to be selected in 2016-17.

Getting it wrong - Off-protocol chemotherapy dosing

The NSW Cancer institute this year released a report into the treatment practices of one of our clinicians at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. The clinician prescribed off protocol chemo-therapy doses to over 100 patients over a number of years. 

The off-protocol prescription of chemotherapy to this group of head and neck cancer patients at the hospital has been extremely distressing and confronting for our patients and families and for many of our staff. We are deeply and sincerely sorry for this. 

We have reiterated where we went wrong and how we have harnessed the resources of the St Vincent’s organisation to review our systems and processes to ensure it does not happen again. 



“In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we have an invitation not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give and receive love and forgiveness without measure.” Here’s a story of mercy from St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn.

Volunteer mercy: The friendship of Joe and Ed

Joe joined the community of the Sister Maria Cunningham Centre, Auburn in July 2013, living with advanced Huntington’s Disease. Joe was the only son and one of four children born to Charlie and Philomena, a committed family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. With his mother being sick with Huntington’s disease and dad illiterate, Joe and his sisters made an effort to learn about their faith from a very young age.

With ever-increasing and complex clinical care needs Joe moved from the Sister Maria Cunningham Centre to the high care unit at the neighbouring St Joseph’s Village. Joe’s need for simple companionship did not go unnoticed by staff.  The request went out to the band of St Joseph’s volunteers for someone to provide reading as an activity for Joe and was happily taken up by eighty year old volunteer Ed who joined the volunteer ranks of St Joseph’s Hospital in December 2012.

Ed was never absolutely certain if Joe understood his readings, however, such an unknown did not deter his mission of providing readership each and every Wednesday. Joe may never have managed a significant response to the reading of short and long stories, including stories of Jehovah, but Ed maintains that on a few occasions he had sensed a recognition and appreciation via eye contact.

After such dedication in spending time with Joe and witnessing his helpless situation it was nevertheless a shock for our Ed who came to discover Joe’s passing when he reported for reading duty on Wednesday, 1 June.

The following Monday staff and volunteers travelled to the Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall, Seven Hills to farewell Joe. Joe’s 23-year-old daughter, who is also suffering from Huntington’s disease, was unable to attend the farewell and neither was his younger sister, Linda, a current resident of the Sister Maria Cunningham Centre.

Our staff and volunteers were thanked profusely for all the loving care offered to Joe, and Ed will remain a standout and be long remembered for his merciful care offered to Joe through the simple act of one man reading to another.

‘Mercy is the tangible expression of God’s love in the world.’ - Fr Gena Sylva 


Spotlight on St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba

St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba together with local organisations is leading the way in social enterprise ventures.

One of these projects is a $5 million commercial laundry and career development centre, called Vanguard Laundry Service. The laundry business will create over 60 career and training opportunities a year for people with a lived experience of mental illness. 

The laundry service has a nine-year anchor contract from the hospital and will begin trading by the end of the year. 

The hospital’s CEO Kathryn McKeefry said: “We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to work alongside the community over the last two years in getting this project underway.

"A social enterprise project like Vanguard creates numerous benefits for the community. Work is linked to improved physical wellbeing, community participation, self-confidence, a sense of control and a socially valued sense of identity,” she said.

Toowoomba's first official impact investment social enterprise, Ability Enterprise, created employment and training opportunities for people with mental illness. The social enterprise runs a $2.5million contract for Toowoomba Regional Council managing the boom gates at 14 waste transfer facilities.

The business has gone from strength to strength, employing 45 staff members and is continuing to grow with an established business plan.

St Vincent’s Toowoomba has supported this initiative with several Ability Enterprise staff assisting with traffic control during the upgrading of hospital carparks in May this year.

Theatre re-development

The hospital will begin construction shortly on a $30 million theatre redevelopment welcoming a new era of health service provision to the community of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs.
Local philanthropist and long-time supporter of the hospital, Clive Berghofer, has donated $5 million toward the project which includes six additional state-of-the-art theatres, a new 16-bed Recovery Area and a new Day Surgery Unit.

“This is an exciting milestone, not only for the hospital, but the entire community. It means they will have access to world class operating theatres, all equipped with cutting-edge international technology, on their doorstep,” Kathryn said.

“St Vincent’s Toowoomba has a reputation for the highest quality clinical care. Its dedicated and passionate staff and doctors are vital to our community. This project means they will be able to go on delivering the highest clinical standards and safety.”

Construction is scheduled to start in November this year, with project completion estimated for early 2018.


St Vincent’s Hospital Toowoomba CEO Kathryn McKeefry with Clive Berghofer who has donated $5 million towards the hospital’s operating theatre development.

How are you inspired?


Peter Vandeplassche is a Clinical Nurse at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba St Gabriel’s Unit (Children’s Ward). We asked Peter 5 quick questions.

1.    What inspires you most about your work? 

Working in a paediatric ward I’m inspired when I see children come in very sick and progress to being well and going home.

2.    What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I am an identical twin – and my brother is also a nurse.

3.    What do you do when you aren’t working?

Spend time with my family and playing sport.

4.    If you could invite any 5 people in the world to dinner (living or not), who would they be and what would you cook? 

I’d make lasagne and invite professional rock climber Chris Sharma, actor Matt Damon, boxer Mohammed Ali, lead singer of Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong and Waleed Aly from The Project.

5.    What super power do you wish you had and how would you use it?

Teleporting powers and use them to go to other countries and planets.

And one final question …

6.    What is special about St Vincent’s Toowoomba?

Here at St Gabriel’s Unit we have a well-established team and we all work together bringing great care to our patients and families.

Opening of our new private hospital

St Vincent’s Private Community Hospital Griffith (SVPCHG) was opened on 23 September by Federal Health Minister the Hon. Susan Ley at a ceremony held by Griffith City Council and St Vincent’s involving all the hospital partners, donors and members of the community who have played an instrumental role in bringing the new facility to life. 

The new hospital is supported by $11.4 million in Commonwealth Funding to the Griffith City Council under the Health and Hospitals Fund and will be operated by St Vincent’s. It will provide several key new services for the people of Griffith and Western Riverina and features an innovative learning and teaching centre to ensure the provision of highly trained health care professionals for the area in the future.

Housing 20 overnight beds and 20 bed recovery and admission beds, two operating rooms and a procedure room, the new hospital will also operate support services such as sterilising and food services.
The hospital’s planned clinical service profile is based on local community needs and will be supported by specialist referral and local clinician involvement. The key surgical activities proposed include Ophthalmology, Urology, Gynaecology, General Surgery, Diagnostic Endoscopy, Orthopaedics and ENT. It is also proposed that medical services will be developed to support activities such as Palliative Care, Respiratory Medicine, and Endocrinology. Additionally the Hospital will house six consulting suites to facilitate on-site specialist consultation.

In addition, to be co-located with the hospital is the Murrumbidgee Clinical Teaching and Learning Centre which is supported by $4.9 million in Commonwealth funding under the Innovative Clinical Teaching and Training Grants program. 

Speaking at the opening, SVHA Group CEO Toby Hall said: “This new hospital is the embodiment of partnership. It represents a convergence of a diverse array of likeminded partners who have jointly adopted an innovative approach to delivering the best health care, learning and teaching for the bush. It represents a coming together of the Federal and local governments to provide key funding, primary health care and tertiary education, major philanthropic and grass-roots community support - everyone’s support and involvement has been crucial. This is a community hospital in the true sense of the word.”


[from left] SVHA Chairman Paul Robertson AM, Federal Health Minister the Hon. Susan Ley and Griffith City Mayor John Dal Broi at the opening of St Vincent’s Private Community Hospital Griffith.


Community support has been instrumental in bringing the new hospital to life 


And the winners are …

Congratulations to all our outstanding finalists and winners in this year’s Innovation & Excellence Awards. We are so proud of your work and commitment to serving, seeing and striving for something greater. 

Chairman’s Award
St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney: Novel suite of web based technologies to pioneer the way cardiac care and education are delivered. 

Leaders in Catholic Healthcare
St Joseph’s Hospital Sydney: Taking Care of our seniors project

Clinical Improvement - joint winners
St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne - Neurosurgery physiotherapy Spinal Triage Clinic

St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney: Metabolic monitoring on an inpatient psychiatric ward

Clinical Innovation
St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney: Psychogeriatric SOS (services on screen), an innovative unique e-health model of rural outreach.

Person-centred care
St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney: 
The key to securing improved patient experience is a combination lock.

Leading Reputation
St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney: A fantastic voyage – travel inside your brain and visualise your own stroke.

Best people in health and ageing
St Vincent’s Care Services: The Values in safety initiative

Growth and Sustainability
St Vincent’s Private Hospital Sydney: Implementing a clinical documentation improvement program

People’s Choice Poster Award
Online judging joint winners

St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne: K.I.T.C.H.E.N every interaction counts.

St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne: An evaluation of the effectiveness of the Support Team Action Response (STAR) Peer Support Program.

Forum presentation - St Vincent’s Care Services: Water quality management in Aged Care

winners_are_1 winners_are_2

A big shout out to the project teams at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney who took out an impressive six awards including the prestigious Chairman's Award. 


Results of engagement survey

Thank you to the 60% of staff who took part in the 2016 SVHA Employee Engagement Survey. The survey responses gave us a clear picture of where things are going well in the organisation and where we can improve. 

On a scale between 0 and 5 for overall engagement, we scored 3.69 on average which means when compared to Australian companies we fall in the percentile group of 25-50. This is a fairly typical score for organisations going through the engagement process for the first time.

Positive feedback highlighted in the survey was that most people are very clear on what they are here to do - they love the organisation’s Mission and their team.

Areas to improve highlighted that people often don’t have the basic materials to do the job, we don’t recognise staff contributions as well as we could and many people don’t have a close colleague who they can share a trusted relationship with.

Whilst the feedback at each hospital was slightly different, these messages were constant across the board. Your CEOs should be sharing the results of your facility with you.

SVHA Group CEO, Toby Hall said: “There are things that we do well and there are areas where we need to do a lot of work. I intend to ensure that we learn from the areas which are not as strong as they should be and try and improve on them. 

“So we don’t lose focus on this we will carry out the engagement survey annually from now on. We will also work closely with teams to address how we further improve through a process of ‘action planning’,” Toby said.

Nurses recognised for outreach work

Congratulations to Clinical Nurse Consultants Lucy McDonald and Anne Craigie, from St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, who were recognised for their work improving services for Victorian prisoners in the 2016 Catholic Health Australia Awards. 

Lucy and Anne received the Outreach Health Care Award for their work managing the statewide Hepatitis Program (SHP), an integrated prison based program for the assessment, treatment and management of prisoners with chronic viral hepatitis.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major public health challenge for Australia and prisoners are one of the most high-risk and complex populations living with chronic viral hepatitis. With more than 6,200 prisoners in the Victorian prison system and an estimated prevalence for HCV of over 40%, they are especially vulnerable to the serious health consequences of untreated liver disease.

The SHP is an initiative that represents a successful working partnership between St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne Gastroenterology Department and Department of Justice, State Government of Victoria. The SHP has implemented an innovative model of care that is committed to reducing the transmission of HCV and advocating for prisoners living with chronic viral infection. 

As part of the Award, Lucy and Anne were awarded a prize of $5,000 towards their professional development.


Clinical Nurse Consultants Anne Craigie (left) and Lucy McDonald from St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne won the CHA Outreach Health Care Award. 

Tackling the big issues

In other Catholic Health Australia (CHA) news, SVHA representatives joined experts from across Australia and overseas to tackle important questions facing Catholic health, aged and community care at the recent CHA conference under the theme 'The Difference We Make'. 

SVHA Board director Patricia Faulkner was part of the panel discussion on ‘What makes us distinctive’. Director of Emergency, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney and Senior Australian of the Year Prof Gordian Fulde gave an opening address. Our Group Manager, Indigenous Programs Lani Blanco-Francis and Mission & Social Justice Development Manager, John Willis participated in a session on ‘Partnering on Apunipima to close the gap’. And our new Group Mission Leader, Lisa McDonald facilitated a session on the difference made by pastoral care. Many other SVHA staff attended the conference.


New Executive team members

We welcomed 2 new members to the SVHA Executive Leadership Team. 

New CEO, St Vincent’s Private Hospitals 

Following the announcement of his appointment earlier this year, David Swan has now officially started in his new role as CEO St Vincent’s Private Hospitals Division. David is based in the Melbourne Group Office but will be out and about during his first few weeks visiting the private facilities and getting to know staff.  

New Mission leader 


Lisa McDonald has been appointed to the position of Group Mission Leader, St Vincent’s Health Australia. As many of you would be aware, Lisa has held the role of Director of Mission, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne since 2011.  Lisa’s start date is 11 October and she will be based in the SVHA Melbourne Group office.

Formation forges ahead

Formation of all staff is a critically important factor in sustaining and growing the SVHA Mission. Our commitment to the on-going formation for staff in Mission considers not only what our staff need to understand about Mission and our founding story, but also what processes will enliven Mission in the context of their day to day work. 

The roll out of Formation for All is underway based on the SVHA Mission Formation Framework.  All our executives are developing their individual formation plans and ‘Inspired to Serve’ one-day workshops for all staff will begin this month. 

Our new brand


Our commitment to deliver on the enVision2025 Strategy and our renewed focus on ‘care’ at St Vincent’s, has provided us an opportunity to develop an overarching brand for the whole organisation. 

‘Caritas Christi Urget Nos’ means ‘The Love of Christ inspires us’. This is the motto of the Sisters of Charity who founded our health ministry in 1875. This has formed the foundation and the heart of our new brand ‘Inspired by You’ – representing the care we provide which is inspired by the Mission, Vision Values and Creed of St Vincent’s.

Every day brings new stories of inspiration of our staff going that extra mile for one another, for our patients and residents. 

In the coming months we will share these stories with you and the greater St Vincent’s family.

You can also find information on our new brand on the SVHA intranet:


Inspiring our senior leaders

SVHA’s annual Senior Leadership Team conference took place recently in Brisbane based on the theme of Seeing something greater.

A highlight of the conference was the keynote presentation on leadership and diversity by Rabia Siddique who inspired everyone through sharing her experiences as a former terrorist and war crimes prosecutor, international humanitarian, retired British Army officer, hostage survivor and mother of triplets. 

During the conference, an artwork created by 50 staff and three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists was unveiled. This large vibrant silkscreen, known as a ‘triptych’, acknowledges our commitment to Reconciliation. Silk prints of the artwork will be provided to each of our facilities as an ongoing reminder to all of our reconciliation journey.  

The two-day conference also included an Innovation Forum showcasing the finalists in this year’s Innovation & Excellence Awards and the gala dinner announcing the award winners (see story in this issue).  


Jeffrey Samuels and Bianca Beetson - two of the artists who collaborated on our Reconciliation Collaborative art project unveiled at the SVHA Senior Leadership Team Conference .

We bring God’s love to those in need through the healing ministry of Jesus.

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