San beats COVID challenge to pass tests

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Sydney Adventist Hospital has successfully passed its accreditation for National Safety and Health Quality Standards, despite a challenging test period during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New South Wales’ largest private hospital, also known as the San, has been granted three years of accreditation under the second edition of the requirements, which were introduced in 2017.

The San Day Surgery Hornsby, also owned by Adventist HealthCare Limited (ACHL), achieved the same accreditation.

Five surveyors spent four days at AHCL at a time when more than 100 staff were furloughed on any given day due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The not-for-profit healthcare group’s CEO Brett Goods said he was extremely proud of the outstanding accreditation results. 

“We are also delighted that the surveyors noted that for an organisation of AHCL’s size and complexity, to gain accreditation in a single event without the need for high-priority follow-up of recommendations is not common across Australia,” he said.

“The results are testament to the commitment that both leadership and staff have to patient care and to the excellent clinical and medical services that we offer.”

Associate Professor Lynch and Dr Stephen Pillinger mentor consultant surgeons in the robotic colorectal fellowship they started in 2021

An example of the San’s dedication to providing quality treatment is its robotic colorectal ‘super’ fellowship for trainee surgeons.

Established in 2021 by Associate Professor Craig Lynch and Dr Stephen Pillinger, it is the only program of its kind in Australia and provides year-long, high-volume training at the consultant level.

“Most fellowships are designed for pre-consultant level,” Dr Pillinger said. “Our new fellowship, instead, trains a junior consultant surgeon. Candidates are fully qualified colorectal surgeons but are early in their career so they can undertake fulltime dedicated training.

“We felt the private sector needed this level of training because patients choosing a private hospital want to select their own highly-experienced surgeon. 

“It’s difficult to train this way in the public system, and the San’s outstanding high-volume colorectal department has been an excellent setting, given how the fellowship is structured.” 

Last year’s successful applicant, Praveen Ravindran, has completed 87 cases – far in excess of standard colorectal robotic training, where online training and three proctored cases can qualify a consultant surgeon to perform a robotic approach.

“Doing such a high volume alongside the most experienced robotic surgeons means that the learning curve is steep,” said Dr Ravindran, also an Accredited Medical Officer at the San. 

“Every week for almost a year, I’ve been seeing and doing procedures with expert mentors. It becomes more and more obvious through the training how much patients benefit from robotic surgery with an experienced team.”

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