Hospital CEO reflects on the lives transformed over the past 10 years

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Macquarie University Hospital and Clinical Services CEO Walter Kmet discusses the patients and staff who have contributed to the numerous medical milestones achieved over the past decade.

“On the ten-year anniversary of Macquarie University Hospital, it is a time to reflect.

At the beginning of this journey, we set ourselves an immense challenge – to create a health setting unique in Australia but well-established as a model of excellence overseas.

High-quality hospital care integrated with advanced training and research saw the birth of Australia’s first non-profit, fully integrated private hospital on a university campus.

Since we opened our doors in 2010, we have worked steadily to achieve many milestones along the way.

Introducing new techniques to Australia, performing world-first procedures, investing in state-of-the art technologies, building streamlined clinics, participating in important international trials and bringing the best medical professionals to work with us – these have all laid the strong foundations of our first decade.

Today, we have a well-honed strategy centred around seven clinical areas. Each of these key areas responds to community needs by providing essential care, and leads health care into the future through innovative practice that can treat rare, emerging and complex conditions.

Our culture of collaboration, within what is now MQ Health, has become entrenched in how doctors, researchers, trainees and all medical staff see our organisation and work together to solve problems to deliver excellence in healthcare.

Our record of surgical innovation and its benefits to patients is extensive, but some examples of our success are indicative of what we are all about – giving patients the best treatment available, taking on challenging and complex cases and, not only returning quality of life, but saving lives.

At Macquarie University Hospital, we performed the southern hemisphere’s first percutaneous repair of a tricuspid heart valve using MitraClip technology – a last resort for an otherwise fit and heathy man who had developed aortic disease at a young age.

A young woman who had to have her bladder removed, due to a high-grade carcinoma, underwent a minimally invasive procedure that fashioned a neo-bladder using her own small intestinal tissue – all done robotically inside the body.

Combined ophthalmology and ENT surgery endoscopically removed a large, rare orbital tumour located deep within the eye socket of a nine-year-old boy. Importantly, the challenging procedure successfully preserved his vision.

Twelve years on from being diagnosed with a benign skull-base meningioma, a patient at the height of her career is delighted that the Gamma Knife treatment she had at our Hospital has ‘stopped the tumour in its tracks’.

In an advanced surgical procedure, our orthopaedic surgeons utilised external fixation and percutaneous minimal-incision surgery to correct a foot deformity, followed by a total ankle replacement, in a complex case of long-term severe rheumatoid arthritis.

And a double above-knee amputee, also a young war veteran, who had bi-lateral transfemoral osseointegration surgery at Macquarie University Hospital in 2014, says the surgery changed his life.

Finally, primary care is now a fully-fledged service, helping students, staff and our local community access all areas of health – including aged care, preventative medicine, mental health and men’s health services.

There are dozens more of these types of examples, and it’s impossible to list them all here. Perhaps some of these examples are most impressive when they bring into place genuine team-based care and collaboration, in areas in which there is so much more opportunity. It is in this approach and one that emphasises ongoing relationships with patients and integrated care that the future lies.

And so I’d like to acknowledge all the staff and other professionals, including specialists and surgeons, who have been with us for many years. Thank you for your engagement at the frontiers of health and medical care in Australia – and globally. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the excellence for which we have become known. In all of these achievements it is telling that, in my experience, patients remember us most when we understand them and care for them personally.

Many of our staff have been with us for 10 years and a special shout out to all of you, and many more of you who will stay with us for a long time. We hope that our culture can continue to develop as such, so we all feel like it is the best place to be, to develop both personally and professionally.

To our many partners, like MQ Health Neurology and MMI that have become part of MQ Health in the past 12 months, and to those who have clinics and services that help us provide a better service – your contribution has been an essential ingredient in  our journey.

Ten years on, and we can safely say that we’ve proven that our unique model is bearing fruit and, as we continue to invest and upgrade our outstanding facilities, has become sustainable in Australia.

In these recent challenging times, perhaps more so than most in the past, we’ve consolidated a position of future sustainability not only as part of Macquarie University but in the health system more broadly.

I look forward to shaping the next decade with you.”

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