$2.5M donation targets pandemic waiting lists


Epworth HealthCare’s hospitals are gearing up to help thousands of patients whose surgeries were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a $2.5 million charitable donation focused on reducing waiting lists. 

The Victorian group’s longstanding partnership with La Trobe Financial had already brought in $1 million to buy safety equipment and respirators at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, and now the latest contribution will fund hospital upgrades and provide support for patients.

“We accept this donation with immense gratitude, as it will enable Epworth to prepare our hospitals for increased surgical activity and help alleviate the significant backlog of surgical cases,” Group Chief Executive Dr Lachlan Henderson said. 

“There is now a backlog of patients due to elective surgery restrictions over the last two years. Some patients have struggled while they wait for their operations, and this money will assist us to accelerate that work.” 

Dr Henderson said all the group’s hospitals were ready to increase surgical volumes as the state moved out of COVID-19 restrictions, including Epworth Richmond, Victoria’s largest private surgical facility. 

“It will require our staff and doctors to do more than we’ve ever done. The additional donation from La Trobe Financial will ensure we can meet the needs of our community,” he said.

The $2.5 million donation from La Trobe Financial’s Charitable Foundation will fund a range of upgrades, including:

  • A dedicated ear, nose and throat theatre
  • An intraoperative ultrasound system to provide surgeons with real-time imaging during operations to remove brain, pancreatic, prostate and bladder tumours
  • An ultrasonic tissue ablation system that removes tumours in the brain, without effective healthy surrounding tissue
  • 40 observation machines to monitor patients’ vital signs at the bedside
  • New intensive care unit beds
  • Renovations to two units near Epworth Richmond to provide accommodation for regional patients and their families
  • New cars to expand Australia’s first privately-run 'Hospital in the Home' unit.

In building a post-COVID future, La Trobe Financial’s President and CEO Greg O’Neill said the country needed “an army and the power of corporate philanthropy to now support organisations like Epworth in these times”.

“We are simply in awe of all the healthcare workers across Australia and the manner in which they have conducted themselves, and often placed themselves at risk to save the lives of others,” he said. 

“This is one small way we can thank them for their untiring service and outstanding professionalism which will benefit Epworth patients for years to come.”

Epworth Geelong's nine-bed ICU will be extended to 12, thanks to the donation

La Trobe Financial’s foundation has now donated over $15 million to Epworth in the last four years, including $5 million for the state-of-the-art cardiac catheterisation unit at Richmond and $6 million for da Vinci surgical robots across four hospitals.

Epworth Geelong will receive nearly $160,000 in the latest tranche to add three new beds to its intensive care unit (ICU) along with new bedside patient monitors.

ICU Director Associate Professor Nerina Harley said the expansion would be perfectly timed to cope with an increase in complex neurosurgery, following the recent arrival of the hospital’s new $2.4 million intraoperative CT scanner.

“It is an absolute game-changer to have the ICU expanded to care for patients after significant spinal, neuro, upper gastrointestinal and colorectal surgery,” she said. 

“To have additional support again from our friends at La Trobe Financial is extraordinary, as it directly benefits patient care and patient outcomes.”

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