Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Congratulations to Dr Robert Stunden, Head of Paediatric Surgery at Casey Hospital, who was recognised in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his service to medicine in the field of paediatric surgery.

Dr Stunden is a paediatric surgeon based at Monash Health and Peninsula Health, serving patients across south-east Melbourne, Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula.

Congratulations to Mr Shashi Kochhar, President of Friends of the Children Foundation and founder of the Walk for Monash Children’s Hospital, who was recognised in the Queen’s 2019 Birthday Honours List for his service to the community through charitable initiatives.

Mr Kochhar is a passionate advocate for improving children’s health in our community and founded the Walk for Monash Children’s Hospital, which has raised $750,000 over the past six years to help purchase vital medical equipment.

Shashi and the Friends of the Children Foundation continue to raise money for Monash Children’s through fundraising dinners, sausage sizzles and other opportunities in the community to raise awareness and funds to support our patients and families.

Meet Danielle Clark

Meet Danielle Clark, Head of Donor Relations at Monash Health Foundation.

What is your role at Monash Health and what does it entail?

I have just been appointed as the Head of Donor Relations, Monash Health Foundation. My team looks after everything from community fundraising, events, donor relations, corporate and community partnerships, communications and lots more.

What has your journey been like at Monash Health? 

I have worked on a couple of projects for Monash Health in 2016 and 2017 as a contractor, working specifically with the Foundation and the Public Affairs and Communications Teams. I officially joined the Foundation in January 2018 as a Fundraising Advisor.

What made you want to join the Foundation team?

As a professional fundraiser I personally want to only work for organisations I feel passionate about. Monash Health has such a wide reach into the community and really makes a difference in people’s lives.

We are so fortunate to have access to free public healthcare, but there will never be enough government funding to ensure that public services can meet the community demands and keep up with the latest technologies, to undertake all the research possible and ensure that we have the best of the best available to patients and that is where philanthropy comes in.

Our generous donors choose to support Monash Health because they believe in the organisation, my job is to make sure their donations are used appropriately, that they are appreciated and that they get to hear about the impact they have.

What major/new project or initiative is your team currently working on?

We are always working on something big, our Dandelion Wishes Gala is this week and is taking a lot of our focus, however there is lots more.

We are the Victorian partner of a soon to be launched national fundraising campaign and we are working on some exciting appeals for the Victorian Heart Hospital, Women’s Health and our new Emergency Department.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

There are so many elements that are rewarding, the patients and their families who have received such wonderful medical care that they are inspired to either give a gift or ask their networks to give is pretty awesome and speaks volumes for Monash Health.

In the Foundation team we are invited to share those stories, we are responsible for ensuring that gift is honoured and continuing the relationship with the donor after and sometimes during their medical journey.

If you weren’t working in your current role what would you be doing?

I am passionate about improving our community, not just for people I know and love but for those who may not have a voice. If I was not here I would love to work for Victoria Police.

What is something that your team doesn’t know about you?

I really should give you a funny or quirky answer but the truth is that I am a fairly open book so there is not a lot they don’t know. If anyone outside of the Foundation would like to know more, buy me a coffee – skinny capp, 1 sugar (must be raw), I am happy to chat.

Meet Tao Browne

Meet Tao Browne, Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Program Management Office and Deputy Director.

What is your role at Monash Health and what does it entail?

EMR Program Management Office and Deputy Director.

What has your journey been like at Monash Health? 

My first day at Monash Health was Monday 1 August 2011 as the Advanced Scheduling Program Manager (Kronos scheduling) reporting into Cheyne Chalmers. I remember a warm welcome from Sharon Wood who was Director of Nursing/Operations Director at Moorabbin Hospital at the time. It was lovely and has stuck with me.

Since June 2014 I have been working as part of a talented team of clinical and non-clinical colleagues to progress the EMR Program from an “idea” all the way through to “reality”.

What made you want to work on the EMR Program?

While not a clinician by background I have always been interested in health and I love working with clinicians. I have always been excited by the opportunity to play a part in developing tools to improve the quality and safety of patient care – and this is the big one.

This is one of the largest roll-outs of the EMR in Australia. What are the biggest challenges you have encountered along the way?

The challenges have been and continue to be many and varied! As a leading innovator, Monash Health is often an early adopter, investing considerable resources into developing models, systems and processes that serve us but will also benefit others in our sector. Thankfully in this instance many other health services across Australia and the world have led the way and Cerner, who provide our EMR, are experienced in the Australian context. But we still have some clinical areas that won’t have a fully electronic workflow in this first phase of the EMR Program. This “hybrid” workflow has required considerable collaboration, trust and effort from all parties to define workflows that minimise risk for those areas while we plan for future phases that address their requirements.

The executive support from the early stages of the EMR Program has been excellent and has enabled the great clinical engagement that has characterised this EMR Program and is the critical success factor for EMR implementations.

As budgets are always tight and any of this sort of work is dependent on the capability and capacity of staff involved, having the right staff in the right place at the right time is a challenge we manage on a daily basis!

How will the EMR impact patient safety and care at Monash Health?

This is a system designed by clinicians, for clinicians, ultimately for patient benefit. Improving the quality and safety of patient care is it’s core purpose. The foundations of the EMR in clinical documentation, orders and results and clinical decision support are an amazing platform that our innovative clinicians and research partners can use to analyse and improve patient safety and care at Monash Health.

When will the EMR go live at Monash Health?

A revised timeline has recently been approved by the Monash Health Board of Directors and communicated by the Chief Executive, with 3 Go-Lives planned in August, October and November 2019.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Seeing well laid plans coming to fruition as successfully achieved Program milestones is very satisfying. Equally rewarding is the engagement I have with clinicians in the pursuit of these goals and the energy and excitement they bring to realising this EMR journey.

If you weren’t working in your current role what would you be doing?

I am an Agricultural Scientist by education and want to leave a healthy environment for my children and future generations, so perhaps trying to bring together robotics, artificial intelligence and automation to solve some of our big environmental problems!

What is something that your team doesn’t know about you?

When I lived in the US as a child, I had a pet racoon.

Meet Rosie

Meet Rosie Brown, Infection Control Consultant at Monash Health.

What does your role at Monash Health entail?

Infection Control Consultants are responsible for the overall coordination and implementation of the Infection Control and Prevention program at Monash Health. We are involved in activities that include protocol and procedure development, surveillance and monitoring infections, staff immunisation and education, as well as being a resource and advisory person for any Infection Control issues.

There is an Infection Control Consultant at all Monash Health sites, and we all work as part a team with an Infectious Diseases Physician and a Microbiologist.

Influenza Vaccination is a huge priority at Monash Health. How can you help to encourage others to get their vaccination?

We educate staff and explain how beneficial it is to have the flu vaccine annually, not only to protect our vulnerable patients but also to protect themselves, their families and their work colleagues. All unvaccinated healthcare workers have a higher risk of acquiring influenza and transmitting it to our patients. Staff at the Kingston Centre have shown a great willingness to partake in the annual influenza vaccination program and at Kingston Centre, we constantly lead the way for Monash Health with high vaccination rates.

What interests and hobbies do you have outside of work?

I like keeping fit, eating healthy [mainly vegan foods thanks to my vegan daughter who loves to cook], and travelling to exotic places with my husband. I’m also trying to learn how to play golf by taking golf lessons. It’s very slow progress though!

Talk us through your journey at Monash Health?

I’ve been working in Infection Control for over 12 years and have worked at most Monash Health sites during that time. I came to the Kingston Centre in 2015 and liked it so much that I wanted to stay – the staff are very special here. Previously I have always worked in Intensive Care wards in large hospitals mainly in NSW, QLD, the UK and Saudi Arabia. Infection Control was a significant change for me but like many other ICU nurses, I could see how critical infection control is in a patient’s journey back to good health.

What are the biggest challenges your team faces?

I find Infection Control to be very challenging in many ways. Infection prevention practices are critically important for all healthcare workers as mistakes and poor techniques can lead to serious adverse events for our patients. Infection Control staff can sometimes be perceived as watch dogs and it can be difficult to be accepted by all healthcare workers when trying to promote excellent practice.

A lot of our work involves change management which is not always readily accepted by staff who are often under time restraints, among other issues. We are very skilled at promoting and influencing change and do need to be exceedingly patient. However, when we succeed and practice becomes safer it is extremely rewarding.

What has your biggest achievement at Monash Health been?

The improved ultraviolet marking rates for cleaning at Kingston [with the help of support services], the reduction and improved management of gastroenteritis outbreaks over the last 11 years and of course the improved influenza vaccination rates in our staff.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Being part of a team that decreases infection rates and helps to make Kingston Centre a safer place for our patients.

If you weren’t working in your current role, what would you be doing?

Holidaying in an exotic place!

One thing about me that people probably don’t know is

I ran a half marathon to celebrate turning 50.

 

Midwife of the Year

We are very proud to announce that Tracey Stephens has won The 2019 HESTA Midwife of the Year award.

Tracey plays a pivotal role at Monash Health as the Aboriginal Health Liaison Midwife and Aboriginal Graduate and Cadet Support Officer.

She is recognised for improving maternity and health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and babies by implementing culturally appropriate and safe maternity services.

To read her story, click here.

Meet Nerine

Meet Nerine Wilson, Nurse Manager at Ward 44, Monash Medical Centre.

What does being a nurse at Monash Health mean to you?

Nursing is a rewarding profession and my role as Nurse Manager at Monash Health means upholding the iCare values and being able to make a difference to the lives of the patients and ensuring they receive the best care possible at all times as we strive in our relentless pursuit for excellence.

What has your journey been like at Monash Health?

I completed my Grad year at Monash Medical Centre and then went on to work on Ward 32 North until 2001 before going working overseas.  I returned in 2004 as an Associate Nurse Manager in Outpatients, then in 2006 was appointed Nurse Manager of the Medihotel and Infusion Centre.

After the Medihotel closed, I was Nurse Manager for Ward 32 West and then Ward 32 North, before commencing in my current role of Nurse Manager of Ward 44.

What is your favourite part of being a nurse?

My favourite part of being a nurse in my role is to be able to have input into directing the nursing care of patients, getting to know the patients and their families and being an advocate for our patients.

What interests and hobbies do you have outside of work?

My husband Mark and I have two boys Harvey, 8 and Joel, 7 and they keep us busy with a lot of sports. I also enjoy catching up with family and friends and shopping.

What is the most rewarding part of being a nurse?

I always wanted to be a nurse and I’ve loved and am extremely grateful for the opportunities the profession has brought my way. Working overseas was a highlight and I am proud to have dedicated my career in Melbourne to work for Monash Health.

If you weren’t working in your current role, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t working in my current role, I would still be involved in the nursing profession, but I can’t imagine not working for Monash Health and being in a management role.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

We have a relatively new four legged addition to our family – a four month old Toy Cavoodle Puppy whose name is Raven. He is just gorgeous!

Meet Jess

Meet Jess Sneider, Associate Nurse Unit Manager at Monash Medical Centre.

What is your role and what does it entail?

I work as a midwife on the postnatal ward at the moment and I’m doing a rotation as ANUM which means I’m in charge of various shifts.

Before this I was rotating between birth suite, ward and clinic. As a midwife our job is about supporting women and their babies and making their transition into parenthood a positive one.

What motivated you to become a midwife?

I have always loved newborns, I remember always volunteering to babysit neighbours or family friend’s kids. I started to become interested in healthcare and nursing when I was in high school and decided that nursing and midwifery would be a good avenue for me. It is such a broad career and provides so many opportunities.

What has your journey been like at Monash Health?

I started here in 2016 and completed a combined graduate year in nursing at Casey Special Care Nursery and midwifery at Clayton. I stayed on in the midwife role and am now challenging myself to be an ANUM in the post natal ward until the end of August.

What are your career highlights?

Every day is a highlight at work, it’s such a special time in these women’s lives and it is wonderful to be able to be there and to support them.  One of my favourite shifts was getting to deliver twins vaginally. It was so exciting delivering them one after another!

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

I think the most rewarding part is being able to support women and their families during such a special time in their lives. Sometimes we have women here for many weeks and then we get the opportunity to see them deliver.

If you weren’t a midwife what would you be doing?

I think I would be a hairdresser.

A fun fact about me is…

I used to be heavily involved in performing arts and singing is my hidden talent.

Meet Cathy

Meet Cathy Oddie, Family Violence Lived Experience Consultant in our Mental Health team at Monash Health.

Cathy says she is filled with gratitude for the opportunity to bring her personal and professional experiences together in a role that will help shape our response to family violence.

“It’s quite ground-breaking of Monash Health to employ someone with lived experience; to see that it has its own merits.”

“It shows that this is not tokenism or tick a box. They respect people’s time and effort to come in and share their experience to help make things better for others.”

“It’s an amazing thing to feel invited in not as ‘less than’ but treated as an equal. It’s a deeply emotional thing to be shown you have value.”

“I think that’s courageous and pioneering and I hope other health services pay attention,” Cathy says.

Cathy has been a family violence survivor advocate for over 10 years and has lived experience of two long term abusive relationships and all recognised forms of family violence – “It had a devastating impact in all ways, especially on my health and wellbeing.”

“But going through all of that and surviving as I have, has led me here. Prior to the abuse I never had anxiety, depression or PTSD. Like many who have experienced family violence, there are health factors I now live with and manage.”

“But I’m well aware that even in this place I am in a space of white privilege – I’m employed, I come from a good family, I understand how systems and organisations work and still I have found it so hard to navigate. If someone like me has these issues, imagine if I had factors such as a mental illness, drug and alcohol issues, or didn’t speak English,” Cathy says.

How does it feel when you watch/hear others tell their family violence stories?

It is really important that we don’t ever become desensitised. Even for someone like me with lived experienced of family violence, I can have an emotional response and be shocked and that is important. Behind the stats are real, human lives and we need to remember that.

It would be fair to say that it is constantly challenging to put yourself out there and make public your most private stories, but I have learnt from the experience of the Royal Commission into Family Violence – and other experiences along the way – that to make a significant difference for others affected by family violence, it’s important to be identified.

Why do you describe this as your ‘dream job’?

If someone had told me as a high school student that I would have ended up in this role I would have been horrified, because of the life experiences that would mean I would have to go through. But now I’ve gone through these challenges it becomes so apparent to me the importance of a role like this and I am filled with gratitude that Monash Health has created a role like this.

In 2007 after enduring six years of violence, I was very angry and frustrated about how I had been continually failed by systems and services. I started in the Safe Steps survivor advocate pilot program and it allowed me to channel all that emotion in a productive way.

What are you hoping to achieve?

Change the narrative, change the system; I’m deeply passionate about breaking down the silos of the family violence and health systems.

Health services need to have a united cohesive response to family violence. There needs to be collaboration across disciplines and whilst some things in different practice areas are done differently, there will be better outcomes for those affected by family violence – and perpetrators – if there is better sharing of information and everyone takes the same, consistent approach.

What role can health professionals play in helping people who have experienced family violence?

Based on my experience, it can be easy to treat the health issue that’s presenting because we’re scared to ask the harder questions.

I presented at a local GP with burns and broken bones explicitly disclosing what had caused the injury… they treated the injury. They didn’t ask. There was no acknowledgement of what I’d said. There was no help or referral. They didn’t check whether I had outside support or help. Often it is assumed that people know what to do and have chosen not to.

Sometimes I was sent back into the situation that caused or triggered my illness or injury! People are not supported to know the referral pathways.

Don’t assume knowledge. In a health service we have a responsibility to take a few more moments – don’t be afraid to ask the question because you never know how much you could change someone’s life. The other thing to know is that your response to disclosure is so important. Not acknowledging a disclosure just reinforces the isolation that person is feeling.

How do you react to being asked the question ‘Why didn’t you leave?’

I think it really focuses on you being the one with weaknesses. What I like to focus on is strength; what gave you the strength or courage to leave.

The reasons people experiencing family violence choose to remain in abusive relationships are complex and varied. It is important that health professionals are aware that on average it can take a person experiencing abuse several attempts to safely leave a violent relationship and that they are at a much greater level of risk during this time. We need to shine a light on the behaviour of the perpetrators.

What other experience do you bring to the role at Monash?

In my previous role I was seeing the devastating effects of financial abuse – 90 per cent of people affected by family violence suffer severe financial impacts.

I have worked in the financial sector for the last four years. I was with HESTA as a business development and policy coordinator. One of the things I did there was put forward the idea of family violence being one of the compassionate grounds for the early release of super. This policy change is currently part of a series of recommendations being made to the Federal Government’s review on this issue.

I also had seven years at Centrelink, so my experience of family violence is not just my lived experience but also professionally assisting others.

I’ve also worked for North Fitzroy Prevention and Recovery Care and Uniting Care.

 

Congratulations Tracey Stephens

We are very proud to announce that Tracey Stephens has been nominated as a finalist in the national 2019 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards. Tracey plays a pivotal role at Monash Health as the Aboriginal Health Liaison Midwife and Aboriginal Graduate and Cadet Support Officer.

She is recognised for improving maternity and health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and babies for implementing culturally appropriate and safe maternity health care services.

An advocate for Aboriginal health, Tracey liaises with the community and acute hospital services to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies have access to appointments and adequate healthcare. To achieve this, Tracey has partnered with numerous external organisations and internal teams to ensure women are informed about the services they can access and all aspects of healthcare are addressed during their time at the hospital.

Tracey developed The Bubup Bag which is a new initiative to ensure Aboriginal expecting mothers and their families have the resources and information they need during and after pregnancy. All Aboriginal women who engage with Monash Women’s will be offered a Bubup Bag, as well as support from Tracey. The bag acts as a great conversation starter within our Women’s and Newborn service and aims to create a culturally aware and safe environment within our maternity departments.

As a result of Tracey’s hard work, the number of Aboriginal babies born at Monash Health has doubled, there has been a decrease in no shows for prenatal appointments, and she has built a strong partnership with the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) who now offers increased health programs that complement their current maternity services.

As a long-term advocate for culturally safe maternity practices, Tracey regularly provides cultural awareness training and services within hospitals to ensure they’re culturally sensitive when delivering care. In 2017, Tracey was awarded the Sally Gould Award recognising her achievements as a midwife and for her substantial contributions to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians through her work.

Through her determination and hard work, Tracey has been fundamental in improving the maternity care provided by Monash health to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

1. What does it mean to you to be a finalist for the Midwife of the Year Award in the 2019 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards? 

It’s very humbling to be nominated, but I am very excited because the role that I have been in for the last 15 months, is the exact reason why I became a midwife. I have always wanted to be a midwife that supports Aboriginal families and communities.

The importance of having Aboriginal midwives working with Aboriginal women, babies, and families is so important, and it’s my passion. I am proud that our numbers have increased, our KPI’s have improved, and through this, we have implemented so many great improvements across our healthcare system.

2. What do you plan on doing with the prize money if you win?

Originally I had planned on getting some much need resources for our team, but I have always wanted to pursue further education for myself. Therefore I would use the prize money to further educate myself. I have a strong passion for cultural safety and everything about Aboriginal Health.

3. What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?

Absolutely everything, it’s my dream job. I come to work because I love my role, and it doesn’t feel like work. Every day, I get the opportunity to work with women to achieve the best outcomes in their birthing journey. After birth, I am able to follow these women into the community and watch health babies and competent mothers thrive.

4. What tips do you have for young people pursuing a career in midwifery? 

It is the most rewarding job; I wish we had more Aboriginal midwives and more Aboriginal Programs that are in the mainstream hospital to support the Koorie Maternity services and the people who don’t go through this program. Monash Health and Bunurong work extremely close and have a close relationship. Michelle, Kel and I collaborate and complement each other. I consider them a close knit part of the fantastic work we do at Monash Health, and how great we are working for our community.

 

The Dr Hope Foundation raises $40k for the Monash Health Clinical Cancer Trials

Congratulations to the Dr Hope Foundation for raising over $40,000 at the Dr Hope 2019 Masquerade Gala Ball on Friday 5 April to support Clinical Cancer Trials at Monash Health.

Over 200 people attended the glamorous event hosted by special guest Madeline Slattery from 9 News for a night of fine dining, music and entertainment.

The money raised will be used to employ an additional Doctor and increase participant numbers in Clinical Cancer Trials at Monash Health.

Thank you to everyone who attended and generously donated to raise awareness and funds to support our Clinical Cancer Trials.

A special thank you to Effie Atkins, Kerry Georgiou and the Dr Hope Team for all of your hard work and support to host this incredible event!