As with the organisation’s other facilities and divisions, SVHA’s private hospitals were seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But while the virus had an undeniable effect on our ability to provide our full range of services and elective surgery due to transmission restrictions, our people rose to the challenge created by COVID-19 and responded with their trademark professionalism and commitment.
We were quick to respond in the first weeks and months of the virus – for example, installing thermal imaging cameras at our entrances, and following state and Commonwealth guidelines on visitors, mask-wearing and elective surgery – in order to protect our patients, staff, and their respective families.
The announcement by the Commonwealth Government – supported by the states – in April 2020 to provide a ‘viability guarantee’ that would enable our beds and skilled workforce to be available to support the public health system so we could jointly tackle the virus’ spread, was welcomed.

Since that time, SVHA’s private hospitals have been making an important contribution to Australia’s overall response to COVID-19, including working in close partnership with our own organisation’s public facilities.
For example, in March, St Vincent’s Private Sydney began coordinating with its colleagues at the nearby public hospital to expand the campus’ Intensive Care Unit capacity. Working together meant both our private and public St Vincent’s Sydney hospitals would be able to accommodate any surge in COVID patients while responding to regular ICU inflow.
And in Victoria’s second surge, St Vincent’s Private Melbourne’s site at East Melbourne became one of the city’s most important health service locations, caring for a large number of vulnerable and elderly aged care residents – both with and without COVID – who were no longer able to be supported and housed at their facility.
The Private’s sites at Fitzroy and Werribee also played crucial roles, taking on overflow patients from the state’s public hospital system.
Of course, the real strength of St Vincent’s are its people, and while the COVID-19 pandemic demanded much from our team and placed them under remarkable pressure in all three states, there was never any doubt that they would rise to the occasion – something the Australian singer-songwriter Deltra Goodrem celebrated with her song and video, Together We Are One, which includes the voices and faces of many St Vincent’s Private Sydney staff.

Preview the hospital's new hybrid operating theatre

Visualise the hospital’s new hybrid operating theatre thanks to this awesome video from our friends at Siemens Healthineers 👩🏻‍⚕️🧑🏼‍⚕️ The new theatre is due October 2020.

Posted by St Vincent's Private Hospital Northside on Sunday, July 26, 2020

Despite the enormity of the COVID-19 challenge, SVHA’s private hospitals achieved a number of important unrelated objectives and key milestones during the year.
We commenced a range of marketing initiatives – such as St Vincent’s Priority – which for the first time linked patient referrals to our clinicians and our hospitals. We also enhanced the use of social media to increase awareness of our services.
These projects together drove an increase in referrals and activity throughout the year. Our Excellence Always initiative – which aims to ensure our private facilities are efficient in everything they do – also had a positive impact, allowing our hospitals to increase theatre activity (outside of COVID restrictions) during the year.
Importantly, the feedback from our patients during the year significantly improved. The Net Promoter Score – the method by which we survey our customer’s satisfaction – for our private hospitals not only rose to 74 in the financial year, but in the six months prior to October 2020 it climbed even higher to 80. This is not only well above Australian hospital benchmarks but international benchmarks as well.
Across the division we also began or completed several major upgrades. At St Vincent’s Private Melbourne’s Kew site we finished our $3.8m renovation, installing a new state of the art operating theatre, a day procedure unit, new consulting rooms, and a refurbished reception foyer.
At St Vincent’s Private Northside work began on our $11m hybrid theatre project. The new 74-sqm suite will be the most advanced hybrid theatre in Queensland and used primarily for accommodating complex surgical work including advanced cardiac and endovascular clinical procedures.
The new theatre creates a ‘one-stop-shop’ for minimally invasive surgery and CT imaging, allowing a higher volume of patients to receive an enhanced standard of care.

At St Vincent’s Private Toowoomba – which during the year celebrated the 100th anniversary since the Sisters of Charity arrived in the Darling Downs – we launched the $15m build of a new Emergency Department and radiology centre, thanks in part to the generous donation of $3.5m by Clive Berghofer. Mr Berghofer has been a longstanding and generous friend to St Vincent’s Toowoomba and we greatly appreciate his continued support.
The new emergency centre will feature three resuscitation areas, 15 treatment areas, and a medical assessment and planning unit while the new medical imaging facilities will include nuclear medicine, ultrasound, X-ray, CT and MRI scanning capabilities along with a new café with indoor and outdoor dining.

Bird's eye view of our new emergency & radiology department

CHECK. THIS. OUT. What a great bird's eye view of the construction progress Hutchinson Builders are making on our new Emergency Department and Queensland X-Ray Radiology Centre. Some project fast facts: 💜 more than 400 individuals will be employed during construction, including apprentices and more than 80 per cent are from the Toowoomba region 💙 the project will see new emergency and radiology departments along with a refurbishment of the maternity ward including a new state-of-the-art birthing suite which has already opened 💜 the new modern birthing suite has been a collaboration with the community where we’ve listened to feedback from our previous patients and included design features – like baths – that can be used for pain relief while in labour 💙 the new emergency centre will feature three resuscitation areas, 15 treatment areas, and a medical assessment and planning unit with ability to provide allied health and nurse practitioner-led services 💜 the new medical imaging facilities will include nuclear medicine, ultrasound, X-ray, CT and MRI scanning capabilities along with a new café with indoor and outdoor dining. This will also include a dedicated Telemedicine room to provide services to the more remote towns of the Darling Downs and beyond It's on track to open in late 2020 and we can't wait!

Posted by St Vincent's Private Hospital Toowoomba on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Toowoomba’s year also saw the opening of its new stroke unit and the re-development of the hospital’s birthing suites to enhance services available to local mothers.
The Mater’s birthing suites also underwent a major refurbishment resulting in six new larger suites – three with large free-standing immersion baths and double showers, and three with double showers.
And St Vincent’s Private Hospital Sydney is only a few months shy of completing its five-year master redevelopment project, with construction scheduled for completion before Christmas 2020.
The project was split into three stages: Stage 1 – the building known as the Sr Frances McGuigan Wing, a new 15 storey tower completed in December 2018, comprising two new operating theatres, 48 inpatient beds, a laundry, cafeteria, rehabilitation gym, hydrotherapy pool, consulting suites and an ambulatory care area; Stage 2 – the refurbishment of the existing hospital’s ward block, improving and expanding patient accommodation so that all rooms now offer private accommodation, along with a state-of-the-art Central Sterile Services Department and a new operating theatre with recovery bays for day surgery; and Stage 3 – the redevelopment of the main entrance, administration, Pharmacy and ground level external works of the building.
While construction was taking place across the division’s hospitals, St Vincent’s was also engaged in developing new technology to make sure we offered the very best in world-leading treatment.
At Toowoomba, the hospital’s new, state-of-the-art, Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery System (colloquially known as ‘Gus’ in the operating theatres) was used for the first time.
At Sydney’s Mater, the hospital introduced new technology – the AlignRT – to eliminate the need for breast cancer patients to require permanent tattoo markers during radiation therapy.
Using a 3D stereoscopic camera, AlignRT is a unique radiation therapy system which tracks a patient’s positioning before and during their treatment, to assist with set up and accuracy.
Prior to the high-end technology, breast cancer patients received permanent tattoo marks through traditional radiation therapy to ensure treatment was delivered to a precise location.

Elsewhere, our previously installed new technologies continue to make a huge difference in the lives of our patients. At St Vincent’s Private Melbourne, the hospital’s Brainlab Airo – a ‘surgical GPS’ that gives clinicians a far more accurate vision of the field of surgery – carried out its 300th procedure.
And in addition to their efforts tackling the pandemic, the private division’s people excelled in other ways.
The remarkable Mr John O’Donnell carried out his 10,000th hip arthroscopy at St Vincent’s Private Melbourne’s East Melbourne site.
Mr O’Donnell has been performing hip arthroscopy, also known as keyhole surgery, to repair damaged hips since 1992. He was an early pioneer of this minimally invasive surgical technique – developed to reduce post-operative pain and provide a faster recovery – and it is a testament to his skill and staying power that he has helped 10,000 people return to an active life.

And at St Vincent’s Private Brisbane, four of our very best – palliative care nurses Jacqueline Smith, Genia Miszkowycz, Andrea Fernleigh, Mary Circosta and Janice Mouatt – marked a combined 150 years of compassionate care to patients between them at a special celebratory event.