Sydney Adventist Hospital was selected to join six other Asia Pacific organisations as a Cognitive Institute Safety and Reliability Partner. CEO Dr Leon Clark explains how the partnership supports their organisation’s goals. 

Sydney Adventist Hospital has been Sydney’s largest and most comprehensive private hospital since opening its doors as Sydney Sanitarium, ‘the home of health’ on January 1, 1903. It is still fondly referred to as ‘The San’ but has grown from 70 beds to now more than 500 registered overnight beds, 20 operating rooms, a 24 hour Emergency Care department and an Integrated Cancer Centre. We have 2300 staff, including 1100 nurses, 800 Accredited Medical Officers (AMOs) and 70–80 employed doctors (Career Medical Officers, registrars and staff specialists).

Although size and capability are important in order for us to meet the needs of our community, we have always sought to give the best possible care in line with our mission:  ‘Christianity in Action’. This desire has driven us to invest significantly in programmes that increase our awareness of clinical risks and to develop process improvement strategies to minimise those risks and create the best possible environment for our practitioners and our patients.

This has led us to consider some of the work undertaken and published by the group from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and to embark on a journey with the Cognitive Institute to support safer and more reliable practice. Vanderbilt has chosen the Cognitive Institute to be the first major international partner to deliver this work across the Asia Pacific Region and we are pleased to be one of seven Asia Pacific healthcare organisations selected to be a Safety and Reliability Partner.

We anticipate that the programme will give us a focus for engaging with our AMOs, our nursing and allied health staff, improving communication and collaboration in the interest of patient safety and better outcomes.

For more than 100 years we have operated a School of Nursing on site. Also, we are now a full Clinical School of the University of Sydney Medical School with an Associate Dean and tenured academic staff so that teaching and research have become an important priority. Our first cohort of medical students graduated last year.

A significant element of our strategy is the establishment of Centres of Excellence in key disciplines and the development of databases to assess and improve clinical outcomes. We expect that the Cognitive Institute programme will build AMO acceptance of using outcome data and peer benchmarking to improve the quality of their practice.

Open disclosure has been an important part of our culture of honest and open communication and, for more than ten years, has been associated with a significant reduction in malpractice claims. However, our managers and executive appreciated a recent Cognitive Institute Open Disclosure Training workshop and are keen to engage further during the forthcoming sessions.

Finally, we have been challenged by the thought of the ‘deep dive’ but recognise the need for culture change and the benefits of ‘getting it right’ with expectations of reliability and active participation in the process of creating real and lasting change, rather than collecting and analysing information with little expectation of significant long term benefit. If we achieve this alone then it will have been worthwhile.

Dr Leon Clark
Chief Executive Officer, Adventist HealthCare


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