Pursuit of Excellence

Ballarat Health Services

Striving for excellence is what BHS has been doing for many years, on behalf of the population of this thriving community of nearly 90,000 people, situated some 110km to the northeast of the Victorian capital Melbourne in the centre of the Goldfields area. BHS is the largest regional health services and principal referral centre in the Grampians Region. The organisation’s patient catchment boundaries extend from Bacchus Marsh to the South Australian border, an area of more than 48,000 square kilometres.

Nearly 250,000 people, or 4.4 per cent of the Victorian population live in the Grampians region, and Ballarat is at the centre of some of Victoria’s most important freight, tourist and commuter transport routes, which strengthens its role as a regional service hub. Housing and infrastructure developments in the western corridor of the city are increasing and population estimates indicate an increasing trend for commuting between Ballarat and Melbourne over the next ten years.

Established as a single entity public Health Service in 1997, BHS combined the Ballarat Base Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Centre and Grampians Psychiatric Services. BHS maintains a strong commitment to clinical teaching with strong links to the University of Melbourne, Deakin, Australian Catholic and Federation Universities. BHS also maintains a high profile in the residential aged care and community service sector within the region.

BHS operates from two major sites, Ballarat Base Hospital site and the Queen Elizabeth Centre. Each site is located close to the central business district with the remaining residential, day centres and community sites located throughout Ballarat. BHS is the major employer within the City of Ballarat with over 3,800 employees who deliver care to patients and clients as well as supporting their families and visitors in the acute, residential aged care, sub-acute, community and mental health settings. The clinical and corporate team is supported with a growing volunteer community of more than 300 members who are dedicated to assisting patients as vital members of the healthcare team.

According to a new Strategic Plan (2014-2017) adopted earlier this year, expansion will continue as BHS sets an ambitious pace of improving its service to the community. The plan states: “The partnership with consumers, families, carers and the community is embedded in the BHS service provision,” reads the Plan. “Consumer participation which informs planning, redesigning service delivery and assessment of health outcomes has been incorporated into all clinical healthcare streams. Patient and family centred goals to deliver ‘better, healthier and safer’ healthcare are supported by the recent system wide expansion of consumer input. BHS is a learning organisation in which the voice of patients and community has shaped the design and delivery of services, the most recent of which is the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre.”

At present, the community is working around a major redevelopment of the main facility at Drummond St, which is causing some temporary headaches but will be well worth it when everything is completed. Work on the new multi-deck car park and helipad are continuing on schedule; drilling for the car park and helipad support pylons, with a 90 tonne piling rig on site, took place in March. BHS Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Rowe, said it was an exciting period of growth and the car park/helipad project would have significant benefits for patients and visitors. “We have recognised the need for additional parking for some time. It is pleasing to see works on the project progressing well at this stage,” said Mr Rowe at the time.

Mr Rowe also thanked the community for their patience during construction. “We understand there will be a period of significant disruption to parking during the works, however, we hope the community will appreciate the long term benefits of this project.” He said many BHS staff had made use of off-site parking arrangements during the car park works. “Staff have been very accepting of the arrangements put in place for their parking during the project.”

He said that other capital projects at BHS were also progressing well. “Works on the new MRI building are also progressing well. Building works on the Spiritual Centre have also been completed, with landscaping of the garden area still to be undertaken,” Mr Rowe said. Work on the new Pharmacy and Diagnostics waiting area was due for completion in May. Following this, works on the demolition of Yuille House was scheduled to commence mid-year.

Work on BHS’s new $1.25 million cancer accommodation project in Pleasant Street leaped ahead at the end of May with the installation of the pre-fabricated accommodation units on site. The project will provide six new accommodation units for patients receiving treatment at the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre and their carers.

Capital Building Projects Manager, Gerard Kennedy, said the fully self-contained units are a modular design. “Each unit has the ability to sleep up to four people which will allow families to stay together when a loved one is undergoing treatment at Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre. This is a major step forward on this project and allows for the final stages of the project to take place fairly quickly.” The new units are located at the former Pleasant Homes site on Pleasant Street, Ballarat. The site will also house BHS’s new Mother Baby Mental Health Unit, which is currently being planned. The project was funded by both the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, and the cancer accommodation units are expected to be completed by July.

The strategic plan now in operation is designed to enable BHS to “expand its flexibility in service configuration according to seasonal, ordinary and extraordinary demand periods and in response to the needs of other smaller health services… Key reform initiatives across the care continuum are being actively pursued and will build on the clinical service achievements gained in the previous strategic plan.” The population of the region may be ageing – a central plank of the new plan and one of its main targets – but the thinking behind the region’s healthcare is as active and forward-thinking as ever.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

June 19, 2018, 8:00 PM AEST