Budget funding allocation confirms ACMD to become a reality

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt announcing $30m in funding for the ACMD

The Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD), Australia’s first hospital-based biomedical engineering facility – and a project championed by St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne – will become a reality thanks to a significant financial investment by both the State and Federal Governments.

The Victorian Government’s commitment to allocate $60 million, first announced in 2014, in conjunction with $30 million announced in 2019 by the Federal Government, and $90m committed by St Vincent’s and its partners, will allow the $180 million ACMD project to commence, and help cement Victoria’s reputation as a nation-leader in the field of medical research.

The ACMD will be a vital piece of health infrastructure to help keep Australia at the forefront of medical research, bringing together medicine, engineering, science and industry to drive innovation and improve patient outcomes.

ACMD has already produced ground-breaking medical innovations, including an implant that talks to an epilepsy patient’s mobile phone, warning them when a seizure is imminent, and the 3D printing of human stem cells which are then injected into joints to prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.

The new 11-storey building – to be located on the St Vincent’s Melbourne campus at the corner of Victoria Parade and Nicholson Street – will be a unique facility like nothing else in Australia; where engineers, scientists and developers, as well as commercial bio-medical firms, will be co-located in a working hospital.

St Vincent’s Melbourne’s ‘Improvement Movement’

Three years ago, St Vincent’s Melbourne embarked on an organisation-wide continuous improvement (CI) effort to deliver positive growth in performance outcomes.

Over the past 12 months, the hospital has embedded CI into all areas of its health services and improved performance across most measures of patient care.

For example, in 2018-19 the hospital met its emergency patient access and elective surgery waiting list improvement targets. It also exceeded its budget target to deliver a $5.567m operating surplus.

St Vincent’s Melbourne has become a leader in CI, partnering with a number of government agencies and hosting and supporting other Victorian hospitals to help them pursue their own improvements.

‘Track and Trigger’ wins award

St Vincent’s Melbourne’s Complex Care Service team was awarded a Victorian Public Health care Award in 2018 for ‘excellence in culturally diverse health’.

The team developed the ‘Track and Trigger’ tool, which helps heart failure patients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds with low health literacy, to avoid hospitalisation and higher rates of morbidity and mortality. A simple weight charting tool, it allows patients to monitor their fluid balance and take action when it varies.

AUstralia-first artificial pancreas

Leanne Foster wearing her new insulin pump system

Australian diabetes patients now have access to a new, Australia-first device that works like an artificial pancreas.

Developed in consultation with patients and clinicians from around the world including St Vincent’s Melbourne, the hybrid closed loop insulin pump system automatically adjusts to deliver people living with type 1 diabetes precise amounts of insulin when they need it – a function usually performed by the pancreas.

A sensor is inserted under the skin and monitors glucose levels, sending the data to the pump every five minutes. The system then calculates the amount of insulin needed and automatically delivers it, based on the glucose sensor readings.

St Vincent’s Melbourne’s patient Leanne Foster was the first in Australia to be fitted with the commercial device, which will dramatically change the lives of an estimated 120,000 Australians.

One of the top 100 hospitals in the world

In 2019, the respected news magazine, Newsweek, selected St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne as one of its top 100 hospitals in the world – an extremely pleasing recognition of the hospital’s staff and their hard work.

Newsweek based its selection on recommendations from medical professionals, patient survey results, and medical performance indicators. The magazine credited the hospitals that made the list as being at the forefront of adapting to new challenges while providing excellent patient care.

St Vincent’s Melbourne was one of four hospitals on the list from Australia.

St Vincent’s launches palliative care strategic plan

St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne has a long history of providing excellent end-of-life care, a proud heritage that continued during 2018-19 with the launch of its Palliative Care Strategic Plan.

The plan provides a framework to consolidate and enhance the hospital’s reputation as one of Australia’s leading providers of evidence-based palliative care.

The strategic commitments under the plan include pledges to provide early access to palliative care and specialist support to more people; to more deeply integrate the hospital’s palliative care service so that its clinical, education and research components work more closely; and to make sure that patients are consistently experiencing excellent palliative care utilising best-practice evidence, both in the hospital setting and at home.

And in a further consolidation of St Vincent’s Melbourne’s leadership in palliative care, the hospital began an Australia-first trial into the prescription of psilocybin – a synthetic version of the drug most commonly found in ‘magic mushrooms’ – to ease the paralysing anxiety felt by some patients at end-of-life.

New Capital Developments

St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne’s CEO, Angela Nolan, and Victoria’s Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley, launch Caritas Christi Hospice’s redevelopment

In parallel to the new palliative care plan, St Vincent’s Melbourne began work on the full redevelopment of Caritas Christi Hospice at Kew in early 2019. The updated 26-bed facility will feature improved amenities for patients, staff and visitors and is part of a larger redevelopment that also involves a new, premium-quality 120-bed residential aged care facility next door.

Meanwhile, progress continues on the new 90-bed aged care facility at St Vincent’s Melbourne’s St George’s Health Service.

Practical completion of the facility is expected in late 2019 with operations to commence in 2020.

125th Birthday celebrations

Finally, St Vincent’s Melbourne was joined by more than 600 supporters in August 2018 to celebrate its 125th anniversary celebration at its Gala Ball.

The event raised more than $140,000 while supporters were treated to hospitality and entertainment by Tim Campbell and the Australian Girls’ Choir.

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