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|St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney|
|Location||390 Victoria St, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia|
|Care system||Medicare (Australia)|
|Affiliated university||University of Tasmania|
University of New South Wales
|Network||St Vincent's Health Australia|
Adult Major Trauma Centre
St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney is a leading tertiary referral hospital and research facility located in Darlinghurst, New South Wales, an inner suburb of Sydney. Though funded and integrated into the New South Wales state public health system, it is operated by St Vincent's Health Australia (who also operate St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne). It is affiliated with the University of Tasmania College of Health and Medicine and the University of New South Wales Medical School.
Foundation of initial hospital
St Vincent's Hospital was established in 1857 by five Irish Sisters of Charity, who had migrated to Sydney in 1838 with a mission to help the poor and disadvantaged. Some of their early work included helping victims of the 1853 influenza outbreak and families of prisoners in the nearby Darlinghurst Gaol. Three of the hospital's founding sisters had trained as professional nurses in France, and they brought their knowledge to the colony; they established a hospital that was free for all people, but founded especially for the poor, on a non-sectarian basis.
Foundation of present hospital
The present hospital was founded in the neighbouring suburb of Potts Point, on a site which is now St Vincent's College. As demand grew, a new hospital with 150 beds, designed via architect Oswald Lewis, was built on its present site in Victoria Street, Darlinghurst in 1870. The building was remodelled and enlarged after World War I; it is now known as the De Lacy Building, after one of the founding sisters.
Forming part of the St Vincent's Local Hospital Network, the hospital is now a facility of St Vincent's Health Australia, a component of Mary Aikenhead Ministries. The hospital was previously administered by the Sisters of Charity, who transferred ownership to St Vincent's Health Australia.
In 2006, building work commenced on Stage 1 of the St Vincent's Research and Biotechnology Precinct, a joint partnership between the hospital, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Additional construction commenced within 2008 upon a new facility within the grounds of St Vincent's; it will encompass a mental health, drug and alcohol, and community health unit. In 2008, building work commenced on a new facility within the grounds of St Vincent's that will encompass a drugs and alcohol, mental health and community health unit.
Despite large increases within the quantity of patients admitted in recent years, in 2004 St Vincent's was forced to close beds in the past because of inadequate government funding.
This resulted in further pressure placed on Sydney's already over-stretched health care system at times, with subsequent increases in: the number of patients on waiting lists for elective surgery; the time spent on those lists awaiting surgery; the time spent waiting to see a doctor in the Emergency Department; the time spent awaiting transfer to a ward if admitted; and in the number of days upon which ambulances needed to be turned away, due to the closure of the Emergency Department for all but life-threatening only (LTO) admissions. From January to March 2007 an entire surgical ward was forced to close in order to cut costs; this, in turn, placed tremendous pressure on the rest of the hospital.
Heart, lung and bone-marrow transplantation
St Vincent's is a leading medical, surgical and research facility. It has been at the forefront of innovation in areas such as heart, lung and bone marrow transplantation. The first Australian heart transplant was performed on 23 October 1968 by a team led by Harry Windsor on a 57-year-old, Richard Pye, who survived for 45 days after the operation. The hospital was also the first Australian hospital to implement a successful cardiac transplant program. While Windsor led the team, the surgeon who conducted the first successful transplant in 1982 was Victor Chang, a Chinese-Australian cardiothoracic surgeon. One of the first patients to receive a new heart at St Vincent's was 14-year-old Fiona Coote who, on 7 April 1984, became Australia's youngest and first female heart transplant recipient at the time. In 2014 the world's first dead heart transplant was performed at St. Vincent's on 57-year-old Michelle Gribilar who was suffering from congenital heart failure. A few weeks later 43-year-old Jan Damen, who also suffered from congenital heart failure, received the world's second dead heart transplant.
HIV/AIDS and IV drug use treatment
The hospital was also one of the first health care facilities in Australia to begin treating AIDS patients when the epidemic reached Sydney in the early 1980s. This was a direct result of the hospital's close geographic position to the predominantly gay areas surrounding nearby Oxford Street and the injecting drug using population of notorious red-light district, Kings Cross. Dr Ron Penny and Dr David Cooper are credited with diagnosing the first patient with AIDS in Australia at St Vincent's in October, 1982.
As the AIDS epidemic grew in Sydney, the hospital led the way in the compassionate treatment of the sick and the dying, continuing to apply the original values of the Sisters' mission. This early exposure to the frightening implications of a possible pandemic was responsible for St Vincent's becoming one of the leading centres of immunology research and practice in the world.
The hospital was also one of the first health care facilities in Australia to suggest the idea of a needle exchange program, in an effort to stem the spread of the virus among IV drug users in the local community, an idea that was highly controversial at the time, and raised the possibility of criminal charges against doctors and other health care workers who implemented it. The hospital instituted Australia's first needle exchange program in 1986.
The immunology ward of the hospital was highly regarded and strongly supported by the local gay community, who staged numerous charity events to raise money for AIDS care. However, on 24 November 2007, the hospital announced that this ward would be closed because beds allocated for HIV care were not being used due to advances in HIV treatment (namely, more effective anti-retroviral medications), resulting in fewer patients needing to be admitted for HIV/AIDS related conditions. These patients will, in future, be admitted onto an oncology ward of the hospital. The decision initially upset sections of the HIV community in Sydney, given that the hospital is regarded as one of the leading HIV health care facilities in Australia and that the announcement was made only days before World AIDS Day on 1 December. This was soon rectified after hospital management held discussions with leaders of HIV/AIDS groups in Sydney, explaining the reasons for the ward closure, and highlighting an increase in outpatient and ambulatory care services that will be provided in future for these patients. The hospital leased the ward to the Royal Australian Navy while its Balmoral Navy Hospital was refurbished, using their own staff, but making use of St Vincent's pathology and radiology services.
In 1996, St Vincent's joined the Sisters of Charity Health Service, which already encompassed 17 other health care facilities and which is now Australia's largest not-for-profit health care provider. The hospital was extensively upgraded in 2001. The hospital is a primary teaching facility, and offers a wide array of clinical experience to students studying medicine and nursing in particular. It was originally affiliated with the University of Sydney from 1923 to 1968, when it changed affiliation to the University of New South Wales. It also has links with University of Technology, Sydney, Australian Catholic University, University of Tasmania and University of Notre Dame Australia, making it one of Australia's leading teaching hospitals.
By 2009, the hospital comprised over 320 medical and surgical beds, and treated more than half a million patients from throughout Sydney and New South Wales each year.
Mental health and homeless care
In 2020 the Emergency Department was the first in Australia to implement a Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre (PECC), in response to the high number of people with a mental illness residing in the inner suburbs of Sydney, as well as the increasing incidence of people affected by illegal, psychoactive drugs such as heroin, GHB and crystal meth.
In line with the Sister's original mission, the hospital oversees the largest population of homeless people in Australia (many of whom also have a mental illness), concentrated in the neighbouring suburbs of Kings Cross, Surry Hills, and Woolloomooloo. The hospital's catchment area also includes some of Sydney's most affluent suburbs, including Vaucluse, Paddington, Bellevue Hill, Rose Bay, Point Piper and Darling Point.
St Vincent's is a recognised trauma centre, resulting in the majority of major trauma cases that occur in and around the inner city being referred to St Vincent's, despite Sydney Hospital being geographically closer to Sydney's central business district.
St Vincent's Hospital was the first hospital in Australia to develop a specialised Emergency Department (ED) in 1983 under Dr Gordian Fulde. Fulde was the third person to register for the examinations in emergency medicine established by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in the United Kingdom in 1983, and the first person to pass them. Fulde was appointed the Director of Emergency in 1983 just a year prior to founding the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine in 1984, and he pioneered the development of specialised emergency medicine in Australia at St Vincent's ED. Fulde remained Director until 2016, making him the longest-serving director of an Australian ED. St Vincent's ED is regarded as having one of the busiest emergency departments in Australia, and is reason why it features in the 2012-2015 Australian television series Kings Cross ER: St Vincent's Hospital.
The hospital maintains a dedicated Aboriginal health unit. In June 2020 the hospital implemented a new Indigenous Flexi-Clinic aimed at improving the care of Aboriginal patients.
The Darlinghurst campus comprises St Vincent's Hospital, St Vincent's Private Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospice, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. The hospital has a sister affiliation with The Mater Hospital, Sydney, based in North Sydney.
Given its proximity to these other facilities, St Vincent's has linkages with these research institutes and other facilities and has earned international recognition in the field of medical research. It is at the forefront of developing new therapies for the treatment of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, infectious diseases, asthma and diabetes. Since 2008, the St Vincent's Centre for Applied Medical Research has operated a number of research programs which are engaged in research pertaining to immunology and cell biology, relevant to diseases such as cancer, HIV-Aids and inflammatory disease. This centre is a collaboration between St Vincent's Hospital and the University of New South Wales.
Many notable people have died at St. Vincent's Hospital, including:
- Australian cricket player Victor Trumper
- Dame Nellie Melba
- Prime Minister Joseph Lyons
- Australian cricket player Phillip Hughes
- Dr David Cooper, who first diagnosed HIV in Australia and went on to become a world authority on HIV
- Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti
- Australian television presenter Jonathan Coleman
- Australian singer-songwriter and record producer Billy Thorpe
In the media
St. Vincent's Emergency Department features in the 2012-2015 Australian television series Kings Cross ER: St Vincent's Hospital.
In 2016 a government-ordered review found the hospital made “factual errors” and “key omissions” after it was revealed 78 patients, including 30 who had died, were under-dosed with the chemotherapy drug carboplatin, finding the public was misled on the treatment. In 2017 a parliamentary committee report investigating the chemotherapy dosing matter was leaked to the ABC which reported that the committee could not discount the possibility there was a cover-up. The hospital rejected the claims within the report "in the strongest possible terms".
In 2018 a five-time lotto winner donated $50,000 to the hospital's cardiac services.
In July 2021, footage of patients in the hospital's intensive care unit infected with COVID-19 was released publicly showing the effects of COVID-19. The NSW Government used a photograph of an infected patient from the ward as part of its campaign to urge the public to stay home in an attempt to curb the spread of the Delta variant.
- "2017 Annual Report". St Vincent's Health Australia. 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
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- Anne-Maree Whitaker, St Vincent's Hospital 1857–2007: 150 years of charity, care and compassion, Sydney, Kingsclear Books, 2007, pp. 2–3. ISBN 9780908272884
- Whitaker, 2007, pp. 5, 13, 56–57.
- "Administrator, National Health Funding Pool, Commonwealth of Australia". St Vincent's Local Health Network Report, March 2014. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
- "Our Heritage – St Vincent's Health Australia". St Vincent's Health Australia.
- Pell, Cardinell George (6 August 2006). "Hidden treasure of people's faith and love". The Sunday Telegraph, Style Magazine. p. 83.
- Patty, Anna (22 May 2004). "No room unless you're about to die". The Sunday Telegraph, Style Magazine. p. 3.
- "Hospital forced to shut ward". The Sunday Telegraph, Style Magazine. 22 February 2007. p. 7.
- "Flashback: Australia's first heart transplant operation". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
- McDOUGALL, BRUCE (1 March 2014). "Chang's legacy still beating". The Sunday Telegraph, Style Magazine. p. 66.
- Browne, Rachel (3 April 2014). "Fiona Coote celebrates life 30 years since her first heart transplant". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- Patterson, Robbie (23 October 2014). "World-first dead heart transplant at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital a game changer". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- "Doctors in Sydney transplant 'dead heart'". SBS News. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- Alexander, Harriet (24 October 2014). "Heart and parcel: medical breakthrough gives three a new lease of life". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- "St Vincent's Hospital a "safe haven" during the HIV/AIDS crisis". Star Observer. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- Van Reyk, Paul (1 March 2014). "Life during wartime: nursing on the frontline at Ward 17 South at St Vincent's Hospital". Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- Levi, Joshua. "A hero of the early days of AIDS". ajn.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- "Professor David Cooper on fighting HIV/AIDS for three decades". Radio National. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
- Benson, Kate (13 June 2010). "Doctor took the law into his own hands". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- "Needle exchange program marks 20 years". ABC News. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- Benson, Kate (27 November 2007). "HIV beds moved to make way for navy". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- "Health - Sisters of Charity Australia". Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- "Australia's first specialist Psychiatric Alcohol and Drug Unit to care for Sydneys's most vulnerable - News". www.health.nsw.gov.au. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- "Australia's first specialist psychiatric alcohol and drug unit opens". www.9news.com.au. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- Chin, Caroline N.; Sullivan, Kate; Wilson, Stephen F. (February 2011). "A 'snap shot' of the health of homeless people in inner Sydney: St Vincent's Hospital". Australian health review : a publication of the Australian Hospital Association. PMID 21367331. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
- Coopes, Amy (25 January 2016). "Senior Australian of the Year award for emergency medicine pioneer". UNSW Newsroom. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
- Aston, Heath (25 January 2016). "Sydney emergency doctor Gordian Fulde named Senior Australian of the Year". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
- "Professor Gordian Fulde". Radio National. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
- "How one hospital fixed an age-old problem mid-pandemic". www.abc.net.au. 5 March 2021. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
- "St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney". Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
- "UNSW Eureka Prize finalists celebrate a wealth of research and leadership". UNSW Newsroom. 28 July 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
- "St Vincent's Centre for Applied Medical Research (AMR) – AMR". www.amr.org.au. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- "St Vincent's Centre for Applied Medical Research (AMR) – AMR". www.amr.org.au. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
- "Obituary - Victor Thomas Trumper - Obituaries Australia". oa.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- "Obituary - Dame Nellie Melba - Obituaries Australia". oa.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- Henderson, Anne (2011). Joseph Lyons: THe People's Prime Minister. UNSW Press. p. 430.
- "Hughes condition 'incredibly rare' with only one other case resulting from cricket ball". www.abc.net.au. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- Miranda, Charles (19 March 2018). "Pioneering Aussie HIV doctor dies". Courier Mail. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- Cormack, Lucy (3 April 2021). "'An Australian fashion icon': Carla Zampatti, 78, dies in hospital one week after fall". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- Mitchell, Georgina (10 July 2021). "Radio and television presenter Jonathan Coleman dead at 65". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- "Public service to honour Billy Thorpe". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 28 February 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- "Off-protocol prescribing of chemotherapy for head and neck cancer: Final Report" (PDF). 31 July 2016.
- "St Vincent Hospital's chemo scandal: Patients underdosed". NewsComAu. 5 April 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- Press, Australian Associated (6 April 2016). "St Vincent's hospital's chemotherapy scandal sparks call for inquiry". the Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
- "St Vincent's Hospital 'possibly covered up chemo dosage scandal'". www.abc.net.au. 17 May 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
- Macdonald, Emily (22 June 2018). "Five time lotto winner donates cash". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
- "ON THE FRONTLINE: Inside the coronavirus ICU ward at a Sydney hospital". 7NEWS. 14 July 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
- Davies, Lisa (16 July 2021). "The photo that urges you to stay home". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
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