SOUTH Gippsland Hospital (SGH) in Foster is celebrating 2022-2023 for being “one of our most successful years of operation” as noted by Board Chair David Pollard at the Hospital’s 82nd Annual General Meeting on Thursday November 30, 2023.
“Our high-level achievements [are] a credit to all involved, including our community who have once again been extremely supportive of our organisation,” the Chair said during his report to the AGM in the SGH Community Health Centre’s RJ Fleming Room.
Present at the AGM were Mr Pollard’s fellow Board members; the SGH executive management team together with staff and volunteers; SGH Honorary Life Governors; SGH Auxiliary members, neighbouring regional health service representatives, and members of the local community.
Especially invited to attend the AGM were immediate past Board Chair Sue Pilkington, and Auxiliary members Jan Taylor and Sheila Hill, who later in the meeting were each presented with an Honorary Life Governorship in recognition of their respective service to SGH.
Ms Pilkington completed her nine-year tenue as a Board member, the latter six years as the Board Chair, on June 30, 2023, with the 100-page South Gippsland Hospital Annual Report 2022-2023 as her final contribution to the rural health service.
Between them, Ms Taylor and Ms Hill have sold more SGH Auxiliary raffle and event entry tickets than they could possibly count throughout the many years they have both cheerfully volunteered their time, energy and skills to the Auxiliary’s range of fundraising activities.
Mr Pollard said the Annual Report provided full details of all aspects of SGH’s services and activities, performance measures, goals and attainments, governance and management, its workforce, and financial results for 2022-2023.
After acknowledging the Corner Inlet district’s Traditional Custodians and confirming the minutes of SGH’s previous AGM held on Thursday February 23, 2023, Mr Pollard went on to cite SGH’s impressive array of accomplishments in 2022-2023.
“[In November], we were announced as the WINNER of the Premier’s Small Health Service Award 2023, which was assessed on the results of the 2022-2023 financial year,” he said.
“The Premier’s Small Health Service Award is the most prestigious award a health service can receive in Victoria, and you may recall, we were finalists in the same category in 2022.
“We were also recently announced as the WINNER of the Gippsland Primary Health Awards’ Populations Category for supporting vulnerable people in our community through the Day Respite Service.
“We won these awards for many and varied reasons,” Mr Pollard told the AGM.
“With a 100 per cent achievement against the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards re-accreditation audit in July, we started the financial year well.
“Our focus on partnerships, safety, workforce capability, and community engagement to provide high-quality healthcare services provided further evidence of our calibre,” he said.
“There is a positive workplace culture for our 190 employees, and we have consistently strong ratings in employee satisfaction and consumer satisfaction surveys.
“Through participation in the People Matter Survey, conducted in late-2022, it was evident that there were some very encouraging and pleasing signs that SGH was heading in the right direction, with indicators demonstrating improved positive workplace culture, excellent senior leadership, and an excellent safety and care culture”, Mr Pollard said.
“SGH actively promotes diversity and inclusion and collaborates with various organisations to improve health and wellbeing in the community, and the year has once again witnessed service growth in Community Care.
“We have also maintained strong financial performance, and responded to COVID-19 challenges,” he said.
“Another key feature of the last year has been our enhanced consumer participation and engagement, with many new consumer representatives joining SGH, in service development and on various committees.”
Finalising the SGH Strategic Plan 2023-2025 in early 2023 was an important milestone for the health service, and Mr Pollard told the AGM that “our vision to deliver the best and safest care for our community is to be achieved through the implementation of four focus areas.”
The interconnected focus areas are; Caring and Quality Services, Sound and Aligned Funding, Valuing all our People, and Purposeful and Positive Partnerships.
Mr Pollard observed that important progress had been made in all four areas since the introduction of the Strategic Plan, which was the “result of extremely good governance of the organisation”, and the committed and generous support of the local community.
“GREAT PEOPLE … DO GREAT THINGS”
SGH Deputy Board Chair and Finance Committee Chair Graeme Baxter presented the Treasurer report, which he said “represented the whole SGH organisation, which includes the Board, the Hospital’s staff and volunteers, and the members of our local community, who contribute so much along the way.
“That is what enables us to have such great people to do great things for the health of the community,” he said.
Mr Baxter stated that the financial year 2023 saw the shift away from government- provided COVID-19 funding, leading to further challenges for patients, staff and the Hospital.
“We still have COVID-19 in the community, but not the funding for it, however with the SGH staff team living, working and breathing for the Hospital and the community, local people continue to receive the best possible care, “ he said.
Mr Baxter paid tribute to SGH Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paul Greenhalgh and his team for the way they “managed and contained costs in this challenging and often unpredictable environment” and for “staying within budget”.
He gave snapshots of SGH’s financial position, including its Net Assets increasing from $10.1 million in 2022 to $10.9 million in 2023, and its capital projects and acquisitions such as plant and equipment rising by $247,803 over the year.
SGH achieved a Net Operating Result of $100,050, and a Comprehensive Result of $80,348, which Mr Baxter said, “picks up a $979,058 upwards revaluation of buildings”.
Additional government grant income was received, with $682,0000 for sustainability, $300,000 for financial support, and $295,000 for winter retention of staff, along with infrastructure funding of $129,000, and growth in the Home Care Package Program of $466,000.
Mr Baxter said the SGH “Auxiliary has once again made a wonderful contribution of $40,325, to purchase hospital beds, pressure care mattresses, vital sign monitoring machine and a blast chiller.
“SGH received a number of direct donations totalling $173,050, both capital and operating, which have helped us improve our hospital facilities and services and enable other equipment upgrades.
“A special thank you to all of those in the community who have been so generous,” he said.
“While overseen by the Board and the CEO, it is important to note that these results are delivered by the entire team at the SGH and we thank them all.”
Mr Baxter recommended that the Board adopt the 2022-2023 financial report “because it’s been through the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office and the Victorian Parliament, so I reckon it must be alright!”
CEO REPORTS ON “HIGHLIGHTS”
SGH CEO Mr Greenhalgh began the presentation of his report to the AGM with a series of “highlights” in the Strategic Plan’s four focus areas.
Heading the Caring and Quality Services’ line-up was the Hospital’s 100 per cent score in the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards re-accreditation.
“SGH met all 251 of the re-accreditation criteria, which is something I’ve never seen before in my 30 years in health care,” Mr Greenhalgh said.
“Then the People Matter survey of the Hospital’s staff showed that 85 per cent of staff gave a positive response to safety culture, which was equal highest in the State, and also that 96 per cent would recommend a friend or relative to be treated at SGH.
“We were finalists in the Premier’s Small Health Service Awards in 2022, then we won it in 2023, and while it might be hard to go back-to-back, we’re certainly going to give it a good crack in 2024!” he said, screening SGH’s 2023 Awards ceremony promotional video clip.
Mr Greenhalgh proudly cited two more positives for SGH, including “positive consumer feedback” from patients and clients, as well as the start of the “amazing and innovative” Positive Ageing Service, which encourages older people to be more proactive and to engage with the health service so they can live independently for longer.
He also gave a “shout-out” to SGH Director of Community Care Samantha Park and her team for their commitment and for their Gippsland Primary Health Awards’ Populations Category win for the Hospital’s Day Respite Service.
In the Valuing all our People area, Mr Greenhalgh commended the Hospital’s “caring team of staff and volunteers”, and the way the team “adapted to requirements through COVID-19, again!
“Speaking of positives, we also have a positive workplace culture, and an engaged team of staff, with 82 per cent completing the People Matter survey, which was one of the highest rates in Victoria, and 96 per cent of the respondents said they are proud to tell others they work for SGH,” he said.
“We’ve introduced staff wellbeing Initiatives, and Jackie Goodman joined the Executive as our Quality and Risk Manager, continuing the work of Paul Greco, who retired during the year.”
Mr Greenhalgh screened an album’s worth of photos of SGH staff on the job, naming each one, telling the meeting what their roles were and acknowledging the importance of their contributions to the Hospital.
Highlights of the Sound and Aligned Funding focus area included those already mentioned by Mr Pollard and Mr Baxter, along with $465,000 for electrical switchboard upgrades, and generators installed in all three SGH precinct buildings.
Mr Greenhalgh also noted the $300,000 received for medical equipment; $8000 for the Community Health Centre’s security camera system, and Gippsland Primary Health Network funding for the Positive Ageing Service and for expanded social work services.
He thanked the Hospital’s volunteers and the Corner Inlet district community for their efforts and their kindnesses, and listed the amounts generated by fundraising activities and through donations including Murray to Moyne cycling team’s $22,000; $7000 from the walk for Fleur Stefani; $40,000 from the SGH Auxiliary; $25,000 from the South Gippsland Community Health Foundation, and $27,000 from the SGH Annual Appeal.
As an introduction to the Purposeful Positive Partnerships focus area, Mr Greenhalgh showed a video featuring the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Community Transport Service, which started at SGH earlier this year, before going on to praise volunteer drivers who make this service possible locally.
He also cited the way Latrobe Regional Health elective surgeries continue to be carried out at SGH, the development of the GEM@Home sub regional model of care, and the delivery of the South Coast Prevention Team, of which SGH is a member.
Mr Greenhalgh said the “Local Health Precinct”, consisting of SGH, the Foster and Toora Medical Centre, Prom Country Aged Care, and South Gippsland Radiology, “remained united” in their ongoing commitment to making integrated health services available to the community.
During 2022-2023, SHG maintained and strengthened its regional and local partnerships with the Gippsland Health Service, and with the Bass Coast, Koo Wee Rup, and Gippsland Southern health services.
The Hospital also continued its education agreements with GippsTAFE, Federation University and Torrens University, and boosted its already strong relationship with South Gippsland Shire Council.
Mr Greenhalgh gave an overview of SGH’s work during the year, which saw 862 admissions, 41 babies born, 640 surgery cases, and nearly 3000 urgent care presentations, along with 100 Home Care Package clients and almost 20,000 hours of Commonwealth Home Support Service rendered, among many other community and allied services.
Examples of feedback SGH has been given from consumers were displayed including this quote from a day surgery patient in March 2023, who wrote, “Your hospital community should be proud of how they run the ship! It beats some Melbourne hospitals hands down!”
Mr Greenhalgh noted the role of SGH’s consumer representatives, who are members of the local community and who offer commentary, advice and suggestions on and about the Hospital and its services from the community’s point of view.
Finally, Mr Greenhalgh thanked all of the people who are involved in and with SGH in a myriad of capacities, from the Board, executive, staff and volunteers through to health service providers and partners, professional advisors and, of course, the Corner Inlet district community.
“LET ME SHINE A LIGHT” ON CEO PAUL
Former SGH Board Chair and now a new Honorary Life Governor Ms Pilkington expressed her thanks for being given such an award, telling the AGM that “it’s been a huge privilege to have served South Gippsland Hospital for nine years as a Director, the last six as Board Chair.
“Our continued success highlights the strength of this health service and its people: Board, Auxiliary, volunteers, those who support SGH with services and in any other way, but in particular, the exceptional staff and our executive management team, led by our Chief Executive Officer Paul Greenhalgh,” she said.
“As Board Chair, you get an insight into the work of the CEO that few others see.
“Paul is always the first to acknowledge others so let me shine a light on him for a change,” Ms Pilkington said.
“The fact that South Gippsland Hospital has a very positive reputation in the community and with the Department of Health and key partners is due in no small part to the considerable effort Paul makes as the public face and leader of this health service.
“Paul stepped into the role of interim CEO in April 2020 when health services in Victoria were in the early stages of preparing a response to COVID-19,” she said.
“He was appointed CEO just nine months later, having led our team through what was then one of the most challenging periods of operation that any health service could face. He has continued that high standard of leadership ever since.”
“SGH becoming a finalist in the Premier’s Small Health Service of the Year Awards in 2021 -2022 and then winning that Award for our performance in 2022-2023 speaks volumes about Paul’s capability and the skill he brings to SGH.
“It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to have worked alongside a CEO who understands how to bring out the best in his organisation. We are so lucky to have him,” Ms Pilkington said.
“The work we’ve all done together to reach these heights will continue with the CEO and the current Board. It was an absolute pleasure to have been a part of the journey thus far.”
Read the South Gippsland Hospital Annual Report 2022-2023, along with Annual Reports of several previous years, via the About Us and Reports and Publications buttons on the SGH website at www.southgippslandhospital.com.au