Three years leading Hawkesbury District Health Service

It’s been three years since St John of God Health Care took over management of Hawkesbury District Health Service and committed to grow and expand services. Chief Executive Officer Strephon Billinghurst describes the changes and expansion he and his team have led in that time.

28 March 2019

Q. Over the last three years, what do you think are the service’s key achievements?

Hawkesbury District Health Service CEO Strephon Billinghurst

We have grown and expanded our services to meet the region’s needs; however some of the success stories that have resonated with me most are the smaller day-to-day wins.

Some recent feedback that stuck with me was from a mother who previously had sub-optimal experiences at our Emergency Department and had subsequently avoided coming here.

Recently, circumstances meant she reluctantly brought her child in. She was amazed at the standard of care, the change in the department and was so pleased she brought her child to us.

I was really proud of that, as providing exceptional patient care is what we are all focused on.

Q. How is the hospital delivering on the promise to grow and expand services?

When we took over the operation of the Hawkesbury District Health Service public-private partnership in 2015, we promised to invest in the hospital’s future.

Since then we have been working closely with Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District and the local Community Board of Advice to grow and enhance services in this region.

Our expanded surgical services include the recommencement of endocrine services and breast surgery, while we are also undertaking additional ear, nose and throat, orthopaedic and urology elective surgeries. This has, in part, led to a 15 per cent increase in public waiting list operating theatre activity.

On top of this, we have established new services to the community including our day chemotherapy unit which operates as a satellite service to Nepean Hospital to provide cancer services to the community, and our sleep studies services.

Most recently, we set up a Chronic Airways Limitation Management (CALM) pulmonary rehabilitation program which has been offered through New South Wales but never before in this region.

Hawkesbury District Health Service chemotherapy

Q. What about investments in infrastructure and equipment?

In the past three years, we have purchased new beds for our wards, as well as additional scopes and microscopes for investigative procedures such as endoscopies.

Our gynaecologists and obstetricians now have access to instruments to provide keyhole surgery. This is a really important offering for our community as it goes towards reducing patients’ length of stay and their risk of infection and pain. Furthermore, we have upgraded our theatres with new anaesthetic machines and monitoring equipment.

Many of these upgrades are behind-the-scenes improvements that our patients may not notice, but are essential to enabling our clinicians to provide the very best in modern medicine.

Q. What are you most looking forward to over the next 12 to 18 months at Hawkesbury?

I am looking forward to continuing to work with the amazing group of caregivers we have at Hawkesbury to deliver the level of care our community expects and wants, and to identify ways in which we can go above and beyond.

Our contract with the New South Wales Government expires in 2022, so we are focused on doing everything we can to renew our contract and continue providing care to the community as we have done for the past three years.

We are also reviewing our clinical services plan to ensure we are delivering the healthcare services that the community needs and securing funding to deliver those services in demand.

This year, we are also looking to host a hospital open day where we can invite the community behind-the-scenes and provide an opportunity to meet our caregivers. We are very conscious that we are simply the caretakers of this facility, and the hospital is owned by the community. We want everyone to feel welcome at Hawkesbury District Health Service and I am looking forward to inviting the community inside.