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Austin AGM inspires

26 November 2019

Austin Health's 2019 AGM gave many in the audience 'goosebumps' after inspiring presentations from Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr Natasha van Zyl and consumer Rodney Vesovic.

Austin Health Board Chair, Judith Troeth AM, and CEO, Sue Shilbury, highlighted the past year's achievements including the results of the Victorian Health Experience Survey which saw 98% of patients rate the care they received at Austin Health as good or very good, and 96% of patients give their overall experience the same rating.

"I'm extremely proud to be the Chair of one of Victoria's largest and most reputable health services," Ms Troeth said.

"Austin Health and our 9,500 staff and volunteers do an incredible job serving the community and providing outstanding care to the people who need us most."

Dr van Zyl delivered an amazing presentation showcasing nerve transfer surgery that has been pioneered by Austin Health and is giving quadriplegics back the use of their arms and hands.

Dr van Zyl took the audience through the surgery process, and showed videos of patients before and after surgery to highlight how those patients who had little or no movement in their arms or hands previously are now able to reach, grab objects and flex their fingers.

"I love my patient cohort - they are my heroes," she said.

"Their approach to life and the challenges they face is inspirational. It really is unbelievable."

Consumer Rodney Vesovic told the audience how he was self-medicating to manage his mental illness and experienced an overdose two years ago but has now transitioned back into the community after receiving care from a variety of Austin Health services.

"I realised I needed to change as I had family and friends who cared for and loved me," he said.

Rodney was referred to Austin Health's Hawdon Street Community Clinic, Prevention and Recovery Care Service (PARCS) and Community Recovery Program (CRP).

His attitude changed at CRP after meeting CRP Manager, Vesna Karopoulos.

"She didn't just treat me with care, but with kindness," Rodney said.

"My mental health used to define me," he said, "but my advice to staff working with mental health patients is just to be kind, take a step back and look at the person as another human being."

CEO, Sue Shilbury, said the presentations from Dr van Zyl and Rodney were wonderful.

"Hearing about the breakthroughs in patient care that we are leading and the impacts we are able to have on the lives of our patients was inspiring and another reminder of the great work being undertaken everyday across Austin Health," she said.

Austin Health's 2018/19 Annual Report and Quality Account are now available here.

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