The respiratory unit at Prince Henry’s Hospital was founded early in the 1960s when a lung function unit was established under the direct care of Dr. Murray Maxwell and Dr. Douglas Gauld. Initially only spirometry was performed until use of a diffusing capacity machine enabled more comprehensive measures of lung function.
In 1968 Dr. Edmund Tai joined the unit from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. His appointment as a full time staff physician saw the respiratory consultative service develop and a respiratory ward was established in Ward 4 south. In the early 1970s Dr. Doug Gauld purchased one of the first fiberoptic bronchoscopes which led to the establishment of a diagnostic bronchoscopy service. During this time thoracic surgical services were provided by Dame Joyce Daws and Mr. Eric Cooper. Notable registrars in these early days included the late Professor Ludwig Engel, and Professor Richard Ruffin the past President of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.
In the late 70s under the direction of Dr. Edmund Tai, respiratory services were provided by Dr. Douglas Gauld, Dr. Murray Maxwell, Dr. Ray Chapman, Dr. Peter Holmes, and Dr. Peter McLaughlin.
Monash Medical Centre was established in 1987 following the amalgamation of Prince Henry’s Hospital and the Queen Victoria Medical Centre. It is the tertiary referral hospital for the Southern Health network that provides medical care for approximately 1.5 million people in the southeast region of Melbourne and Gippsland.
After retirement of Dr Edmund Tai in 1995, the Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine grew exponentially under the directorship of Prof Nicholas Freezer. The current director is Professor Philip Bardin. The department is now one of the largest respiratory and sleep medicine centres in Australia. It is well recognised for the very high standard of clinical care it provides and for the excellence of the clinical and laboratory research. At present the department employs 86 staff.
The department provides a comprehensive clinical service for adults and children with respiratory diseases and sleep disorders. It employs adult and paediatric respiratory and sleep physicians, scientists and nurses to provide clinical, sleep and diagnostic services. It is one of three Victorian cystic fibrosis centres and the only one offering care to children and adults. The only Victorian paediatric sleep service is located at Monash.
The Department in partnership with the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the Royal Children’s Hospital, provides tertiary paediatric respiratory care under the umbrella of the Victorian Paediatric Respiratory Service (VPRS). The VPRS also provides a clinical referral service to the children of southern New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.
It has close affiliations with Monash University and provides undergraduate teaching for the Faculty of Medicine. It is also recognised by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) for post graduate education for doctors who to train as adult or paediatric respiratory and sleep physicians.
A Monash research precinct was established by the Federal Government in 2001. The Department of Respiratory Medicine has Director’s of Research and close links with the research precinct through the Monash Institute of Medical Research (MIMR), the Ritchie Centre for Baby Health Research and Monash University.