Excellence at St Vincent’s in 2023 - from clinical care to leadership

Congratulations to all staff who were recognised at our 2023 Excellence and Service Awards.

St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (SVHM) is proud of the patient-centred care, future-thinking initiatives and urgent interventions we have been able to deliver this year.

Here are some of our highlights from 2023 - projects, initiatives and individuals which were selected as winners.


Pictured: SVHA Board Member Anne Cross AM, BHHP and Colonoscopy Recall Program team members, SVHM Chief Executive Nicole Tweddle.

Clinical Excellence - Better Health and Housing Program

The Better Health and Housing Program (BHHP) is a housing-led healthcare model that provides people experiencing chronic homelessness an opportunity to stabilise, address their health needs and transition to secure housing. It is a partnership between St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Launch Housing and the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Using a trauma-informed and strengths-based approach, the BHHP works collaboratively with clients to achieve their self-determined goals, recognising their lived experience and right to self-determination.

The care coordination team includes nursing and allied health staff with experience in homelessness, mental health, emergency and family violence.

The first of its kind in Australia, the BHHP demonstrates how innovative, integrated, housing-led healthcare models can break the cycle of poor health and homelessness, and recognises the need for a long-stay, recovery-focused approach to support people experiencing homelessness.

On admission, all BHHP residents had at least one unmanaged health condition. On program completion,78% had a GP for primary care and 63% accessed planned healthcare.

Of the planned exits, 100% achieved and have maintained permanent housing.

Residents were also four times less likely to present to St Vincent’s Emergency Department and three times less likely to require an acute hospital admission.

Clinical Excellence - Albury/Wodonga Colonoscopy Recall Program

St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne was part of the Department of Health-led recall program for patients requiring a repeat colonoscopy after original tests were found to be incomplete.

We set up and facilitated nurse-led triaging services, consultant gastroenterology specialist clinics and colonoscopy theatre sessions to review and treat over 250 patients.

The coordination required to deliver this work an urgent timeframe was significant, and the team completed this in a very short space of time, without hesitation.

The team worked alongside the Department of Health and partner hospitals to ensure safe models of care were developed. A team of gastroenterologists was put together and included doctors who travelled to Albury Hospital and completed colonoscopies at this health service so local patients didn’t have to travel to Melbourne.

SVHM clinics and theatres were coordinated to provide additional endoscopy sessions to treat these patients while ensuring no impact on existing endoscopy patients.

The project leaders took a patient-focused approach to this situation, noting it was an incredibly anxious time for the patients involved. The team went above and beyond throughout, ensuring that all patients received the care that they required.


Pictured: SVHA Board Member Paul O'Sullivan, MDMT project members, Nicole Tweddle.

Operational Excellence - SVHM Complex Surgical Multi-Disciplinary Meeting

The Complex Surgical Multi-Disciplinary Team Meeting (MDTM) was established to provide a platform for the pre-operative, multi-disciplinary discussion and planning of surgical patients, and to facilitate patient-centred clinical decision making for high-risk, complex surgical patients.

It aims to explore the underlying benefit of surgical intervention and promotes discussion around treatment goals in accordance with patients’ preferences.

The MDTM relies on the involvement of clinical specialties including perioperative medicine, critical care medicine and anaesthesia. Working with the Director of Surgery and referring surgical teams, this group provides a virtual network dedicated to the care and discussion patients.

The objective of the MDTM is not necessarily to expedite surgery – it is to formulate a comprehensive plan for each patient’s care based on their surgical diagnosis, proposed surgical procedure, patient preferences for treatment and medical risk assessment.

The success of the MDTM is not measured by number of patients who progressed to surgery, but by the number of patients the forum had an opportunity to present, advocate for and discuss. It has demonstrated it is an effective way to achieving excellent outcomes for patients, with a growing number of surgical teams seeking to have their patients discussed at the MDTM.


Pictured: SVHA Board Member Jill Watts, Dr Laura Ross, Nicole Tweddle

Research Excellence - Dr Laura Ross, Rheumatologist, Rheumatology department

Dr Laura Ross recently completed her PhD, for which she received numerous awards including the 2023 St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne TJ Martin Award.

Amongst other topics, Dr Ross’ research involves the development of an activity index for scleroderma. This has involved an incredible amount of work, completed in a short period of time.

Dr Ross has already been widely published in high impact journals and, in 2023, was invited to present at the European Rheumatology Conference, for which she won a prize as one of the most notable research abstracts.

Her research will change the way scleroderma is assessed and treated on a global scale, with the potential for exponential improvement in patient morbidity and mortality.

Dr Ross holds herself to exceptionally high standards and encourages the same in others. She always acts in the best interests of the patient and continually challenges people's thinking, to ensure patients receive the highest level of care.

Dr Ross advocates passionately for her patients and tries to foster inter-departmental relationships to ensure the best patient outcomes. She mentors junior staff and donates hours of her time to those with an interest in research, from medical students to PhD candidates.


Pictured: Helen Dixon and SVHA Chief Executive Officer Chris Blake.

Leadership Excellence - Helen Dixon, Deputy Chief Pharmacist, Pharmacy

Helen demonstrates a commitment to the hospital’s mission, vision and values through her wonderful 'servant leadership' attitude and calm, calculated responses in challenging situations. She has been instrumental in creating a work-positive culture within pharmacy, which prides itself on working collaboratively to aspire, achieve and innovate.

Helen was central in the setting up and general operations of the Royal Exhibition Building and Campbellfield COVID-19 vaccinations hubs and, upon returning to her role at Deputy Chief Pharmacist, has been an outstanding support to many individual staff members and the broader pharmacy team.

Helen knows that the role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas but to create an environment where great ideas can happen. Her leadership focuses on a service vision and care that doesn't yet exist, and the ability to communicate this to the team.

As part of Helen's leadership, she is always looking for opportunities to help young staff members to further develop their talent and encourage them to lead to succeed beyond what they thought possible.

Leadership Excellence - Thomas Wilson, Senior Psychiatric Nurse, Mental Health

Thomas continually strives to be a leader in excellence. Tom is driven by his strong moral compass for justice for the consumers we work with, placing them at the forefront of every decision he makes in his leadership role.

Tom has shaped the education team into an independent, self-sufficient team and inspires the team to be the best educators they can be. He advocates for his team and has helped support our Early Career Staff to grow into well-rounded clinicians who share the same values.

Tom was asked to leave his substantiative position to take on a management role within an area of the service that needed a leader like Tom to thrive. He took this role on in his stride, has made huge differences in the community and has started project work which will make a huge impact on consumer care. He is also undertaking a range of projects that include reducing occupational violence and aggression.

Tom is always honest and approachable in his work and comes to work every day with an enthusiastic attitude.

Tom has worked in our mental health team for eight years, during which he has been a nurse unit manager, associate nurse unit manager, senior nurse and community manager.