Celebrating the 91st anniversary of St Vincents Hospital in Lismore are mother and daughter, Julie (in her original nursing uniform) and Amanda West, both nurses.
Celebrating the 91st anniversary of St Vincents Hospital in Lismore are mother and daughter, Julie (in her original nursing uniform) and Amanda West, both nurses. Cathy Adams

St Vincents marks 91 years

KEEPING a workforce able to maintain patient service levels is one of the main challenges for St Vincents Private Hospital Lismore, according to its chief executive, Bob Walsh.

The hospital is celebrating 91 years of medical services to the North Coast this week.

"This is going to be one of our major challenges: to ensure that we have a workforce that continues to deliver a service to a level of standard that we expect," Mr Walsh said.

Australia's health system was dependant on a "viable and vibrant" private hospital system, and that is what St Vincents is.

With about 400 staff attending more than 12,000 patients a year on average, the level of service provided by the hospital is as important as the level of technology used to ensure patient recovery.

A good example of the hospital's ability to keep staff over the long term is registered nurse Julie West, who has worked at St Vincents since 1977 and in the eye unit for the past 25 years.

She has been a nurse for almost 35 years, and one of her daughters, Amanda, is now also a nurse at St Vincents.

Ms West said she was not the longest serving staff member at the private hospital.

"There are some members of staff that have been here a little bit longer than me. In the reception area there is a lady who has been here for 40 years!

"The hospital has changed significantly in this time. I did my training via the hospital set-up, while nurses now go to university. That was a major change that happened in the '80s," she explained.

Asked about the improvements in patient care and technology, Ms West said: "The operations that we do now are less invasive. Recuperation times are shorter, which benefits both patients and staff directly.

"In the eye unit, a cataract patient would be in hospital for a week. Now they are in hospital for three and a half hours. That is because of better technology and better methods of treatment."



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