Year in review
The year 2020 will be remembered as a time of significant and unprecedented challenges, as the world battled the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. In the months from March to June 2020, Ballarat Health Services’ agile response and commitment to our region served us well. During that period there were 14 positive COVID-19 cases treated. We recorded no fatalities, and transmission was contained rapidly whenever a case appeared.
Ballarat Health Services’ community leadership role, from community education and support, through to testing and in-patient care solidified the standing of Ballarat Health Services at a time of great uncertainty.
We are very proud of the skill, dedication and flexibility shown by our staff, and the support and trust received from patients and families during this time. While there was fear and uncertainty, there was also great collaboration and support.
Ballarat Health Services is the main public referral health services, and main teaching, training and research provider to a catchment population of around 250,000 people across the Grampians region. Find out more about our 2019-20.
We are the largest employer in Ballarat, the main teaching, training and health research provider in the region, and we have extensive partnerships with local universities and training organisations. We welcome people with our shared values of teamwork, respect, accountability and compassion.
A key aspect of our BHS2022 strategy is a commitment to improving staff culture, recruitment and development. Our commitment to this was realised with:
- the commencement of the new Executive Director People and Culture, Claire Woods in August 2019
- launch of a new HR Management system Mercury in September 2019
- mandatory values-based behaviours training Know Better, Be Better for all staff
- celebration of our staff during BHS Together week in November
- the leading role our staff provided in responding to the coronavirus pandemic
Supporting our community to make informed choices about their health, with the aim of reducing preventable illness and disease is central to our health promotion and community services under the banner of Your Health. Prior to social distancing requirements, Ballarat Health Services enjoyed regular opportunities to invite the community onsite to increase awareness of health concerns. Once gatherings were no longer possible, creative, collaborative digital communications were developed. Of note:
- Launch of a new website bhs.org.au
- The Men’s Health webpage
- Collaboration with local Council and industry, including Be Kind Ballarat
- 2019 NAIDOC Week, including launch of the Medicinal Garden
- Healthy Choice Vending machine launch
- Teddy Bear Hospital event
An important role within our region and our community is supporting smaller health services to continue collaborative work on governance, workforce and education.
We were delighted to share our work as the lead teaching, training and research provider in the region through our partnerships with several local and national higher education providers, TAFEs and registered training organisations. In addition to being able to further the development of our healthcare staff, our partnerships also enable us the opportunity for collaborative research.
Our 250 volunteers adapted to limitations brought about by COVID-19 and continue to provide compassionate care and support where possible across our services. We were delighted to recognise their dedication with CEO-awarded service recognition certificates, which were sent to every volunteer.
Mental Health Awareness Workshop
Building on the success of previous training sessions for volunteers, Sue Jakob, Manager Volunteer Services, organised a mental health awareness workshop for volunteers on Wednesday July 17th.
Designed to build common ground and improve volunteer knowledge, the mental health awareness workshop at QEC was well attended with up to 40 volunteers participating, asking questions and sharing their experiences of volunteering in mental health. Also challenging the stigma and discrimination often associated with mental illness.
Click here to read the full article.
David Keene (aka Santa Dave)
Santa Dave is one of our truly incredible volunteers here at BHS. During the year he is very busy organising Christmas gift donations from local Ballarat businesses for our patients.
Santa Dave delivered Christmas gifts and spread Christmas joy to patients in the Paediatric Ward, the Special Care Nursery, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (BRICC), Wellness Centre and waiting areas, the Day Oncology unit, Oncology Clinics, the Dialysis unit, the Medical Day unit and the Emergency Department.
BHS would like to thank Santa Dave for so generously donating his time and good-will to organise such an amazing undertaking which has such a positive impact on so many!
Scrubs for Staff
COVID-19 Infection Control practices led to the use of more scrubs. In response to the increase in demand for scrubs throughout COVID-19, the ‘Scrubs for Staff’ Program was initiated.
Scrubs are protective garments, usually a uniform top and pants, designed to be used by doctors, nurses and health workers.
In collaboration with the Fundraising team, Volunteer Services established this scrubs sewing program and finalised a pattern, instructions, material and a distribution process so that volunteer made scrubs could be distributed to the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit.
Click here to read the full article.
Ballarat Health Services relies heavily on the generosity of our community and donors to provide equipment and services that enhance the health services we deliver.
In the months before our world changed, community fundraising: supported the cancer Wellness Centre through Dry July; donated two patient transport vehicles to our volunteer BRICC drivers; bought an Istat machine to monitor newborns; celebrated the QEC Ladies Auxiliary as they head towards their 100th year; played football for our Wellness Centre; held a Gala Ball for our Emergency Department; celebrated 10 years of Santa Dave; and through your philanthropy, funded vital equipment for breast surgery and eye surgery.
From the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we were overwhelmed with an outpouring of generosity from our community. More than 97 individuals and businesses stepped up and donated thousands of dollars, or lent a much-needed hand. Our staff gratefully received donations of PPE, meals, pamper products, and offers of accommodation.
The fundraising team raised $1.2 million with the support of community events, bequests, our two major annual appeals (EOFY and Christmas), and successful applications to trusts and foundations.
We pay special thanks to members of the Ballarat Health Services Foundation Council, a volunteer community-run organisation which has increased its funds under management to $5 million and continues to invest and manage Foundation funds with substantial year-on-year growth.
It is important to acknowledge that the successful response to the virus in our facilities was born out of many years – indeed decades – of dedication to providing compassionate, reliable, world-class healthcare. It was not a matter of luck. Our clinical teams and infectious disease specialists comprise highly skilled staff, who were able to advise leaders on an organisation-wide response in a coordinated and timely manner. An outbreak in one of our nursing homes was quickly and safely managed, due in large part to the clinical skills of our nursing home staff.
Prior to our response to the pandemic, our focus on providing quality healthcare to our region through every life-stage was demonstrated through numerous projects and initiatives aimed at enabling our growing and ageing population to be cared for in their community. The pandemic has accelerated many exciting new patient and staff care initiatives that will be the cornerstone of our services for many years to come.
Highlights from this period include:
- COVID response: dedicated staff managing the many risks and concerns related to transmission, and maintaining access despite challenging conditions
- Development within the Emergency Department of a respiratory zone as part of our COVID response
- Commencement of a Carer’s Wellbeing Partnership - Carer Gateway
- Establishment of the Hospital Outreach Post-suicide Engagement (HOPE) program
- Introduction of Neuropsychology consulting within Residential Aged Care
- Ballarat for Kids (B4K) - a coalition of more than 20 Ballarat organisations working together with parents and carers to create a city where every child can thrive
- Kindergarten, primary school, and youth homeless dental education programs
- Education into schools via Ballarat CASA programs ‘Respectful Relationships’ and ‘Consent and the law’
- Appointment of a specialist family violence advisor
- Recruitment and training of expert staff in response to legalisation of Voluntary Assisted Dying
- Implementation of a clinical documentation improvement program to improve patient information flows
- The development of BHS at Home, a program to fast-track the delivery of community-based patient care
- Opening of the mental health PARC facility (Grampians Prevention and Recovery Centre)
- Recruitment of Psychiatry Registrars with the intention of developing a Psychiatry training program.
- Reduction in the use of community treatment orders for Mental Health Service clients, which is pleasingly below than the state-wide benchmark
- Recruitment of paediatric emergency physicians in the Emergency Department
- Delivery of the Physician Training Program that resulted in a 100% pass rate for the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) exams, alongside fully recruiting to advanced training positions in general medicine, cardiology, infectious diseases, neurology, renal, respiratory, and haematology. A significant expansion in terms of training capacity, success rates, and recruitment and retention of Medical Registrars
- Opened a new medical ward (3S) to enhance access to care for patients
- Development of a Symptom and Urgent Review Clinic (SURC) for oncology patients, which includes pathways for treating side-effects directly via the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (BRICC), rather than via Emergency Departments
- Enabled the implementation of chemotherapy services close to home for Maryborough residents, who were previously having to travel to Ballarat for consultations
- Broader and expanded Gastroenterology Services
- Development of a Diabetic Foot Clinic
- Expansion in haematology capacity, which has allowed not just for an increased outpatient service, but also an inpatient service for both malignant and non-malignant haematological conditions, resulting in the development of a haematology team
- Re-established of plastic and reconstructive surgery services, with the appointment of an experienced plastic surgeon
- The development of a daytime emergency surgery service with dedicated consultant surgeons
- A ‘same day’ total joint replacement service has commenced
- Awareness communications for
- palliative care services
- Safer baby collaborative
- Infection control - the role of vaccinations in infection prevention
- Women's Health (live 2019 campaign)
- Annual Research Symposium
- Restart a heart
- Compassionate Cities partnership
- Aboriginal art competition
- Telehealth services
- COVID-19 local health information
Have something to tell us? We welcome all feedback from patients, family members or carers. Tell us more.