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Epworth HealthCare is a provider of acute medical, surgical and rehabilitation services in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The group has four divisions: Epworth Richmond, Epworth Eastern, Epworth Cliveden, Epworth Freemasons and Epworth Rehabilitation, with rehabilitation sites at Richmond, Camberwell and Brighton. With over 1,200 beds and more than 4,000 staff, Epworth HealthCare is Victoria’s largest not-for-profit private hospital group.
Epworth Hospital opened in March 1920, as a community hospital initiated by the Annual Methodist Conference. The first matron was Ethel Gray, a Melbourne-trained nurse who had recently returned from serving as a matron in hospitals in France and England during World War I. A donation of £6,000 by Sir Aaron Danks led to the purchase of the mansion “Yallcowinna”, situated in one and half acres of gardens in Richmond. Renovations to convert the mansion into a hospital cost £3,324, part of which was donated by Dr. Georgina Sweet and her father in memory of Dr. Margaret Sweet who “gave her life during the 1919 influenza epidemic”. The influence of the Methodist traditions can be found in the name Epworth, as this was the name of the village where John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, was born.
There proved to be such a need for the hospital that within five months patients were being turned away and the nurses were being housed in tents while renovations were undertaken to increase the number of beds. Building works have continued apace throughout Epworth’s development, and are continuing with further development of new wards and medical centres throughout the Group.
In 1980, Epworth was incorporated under an Act of the Victorian Parliament, The Epworth Hospital Act. This Act was modified in 1997 to create the Epworth Foundation as the principal entity under the Act. In 1998 Epworth acquired Bethesda Hospital from The Salvation Army. Bethesda, meaning "place of healing" was originally opened in 1906 for the care of the sick and needy in Richmond and Collingwood.
In 1910 Bethesda was registered as the first non-public Nurse training School in Australia. With the opening of the Epworth Centre, built across the boundaries of the two older hospitals, full integration into a single entity was achieved for the Richmond campus. This meant Epworth Richmond had become the largest not for profit private hospital on one site anywhere in Australia.
Early in 2002 Epworth acquired Box Hill Gardens Medical Centre and Day Surgery Unit, which is now staffed and managed by Epworth HealthCare. In September 2003 the Group acquired Brighton Rehabilitation Centre, now known as Epworth Rehabilitation Brighton, expanding the current number of rehabilitation beds and services available for patients and establishing a musculoskeletal research centre. Epworth opened the Tattersall’s Cancer Centre in partnership with Peter MacCallum, to become Australia’s most advanced radiotherapy centre.
In 2004 Epworth became the first hospital in Australia to acquire a state-of-the-art robotic surgical system. A Gastrointestinal Oncology Centre was established in 2005. Epworth Eastern in Box Hill was completed and officially opened by the federal minister for health, Tony Abbott on 2 August 2005. Epworth was awarded the 2005 Australian Private Hospitals Award for Quality and Excellence. The entire Epworth group was recognised in this award for clinical excellence.
The Epworth Breast Service also opened in 2005, with a multidisciplinary team offering a patient centred service specialising in breast disease. In July the new Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Unit opened as part of Epworth Rehabilitation. Epworth Freemasons became part of the Group in May 2006, bringing Epworth's overall bed capacity to more than 1,150. Epworth Rehabilitation expanded to include a site at Camberwell with the purchase of Cedar Court in August.
Epworth Richmond has 531 beds and is equipped with quality facilities and latest technologies including a 15 bed Intensive Care Unit, 18 operating theatres, Australia’s first da Vinci robotic system, day surgery facilities, catheter laboratories, community care and Hospital in the Home. With over 42,000 admissions, more than 1500 staff members and 1200 accredited visiting specialists, Epworth Richmond is a leading healthcare provider in Australia.
The Epworth Richmond Emergency Department is the only private emergency department in Victoria that is accredited to accept time-critical patients. Annually, the Emergency Department treats more than 28,000 patients.
Epworth Eastern, situated in Box Hill is the largest not-for-profit private hospital in Melbourne’s Eastern Corridor. Opened in 2005, this state of the art hospital has 223 beds, an 8 bed Intensive Care Unit, a 6 bed Coronary Care Unit and private rooms. Its principal focus is on cardiac, vascular, orthopaedic and general surgery, oncology, urology and endoscopy services.
Epworth Eastern maintains state of the art equipment, including one of Epworth’s two da Vinci operating robotic systems, digital operating suites, a computerised medication administration system, and operates in a fully wireless environment.
Epworth Freemasons operates on two sites in East Melbourne – Clarendon Street and Victoria Parade. Its facilities include 210 inpatient beds, a Day Procedure Centre and a Critical Care Unit.
A key specialty is women’s and related health services including maternity, women’s health and breast clinics, breast and gynaecological surgery and in-vitro fertilisation. Epworth Freemasons offers comprehensive cancer care, and a full range of surgical services.
Epworth Rehabilitation operates from six locations - Richmond, Hawthorn, Brighton, Camberwell, Thornbury and Dandenong, with a multidisciplinary team offering both inpatient and outpatient programs to cater to the needs of a range of rehabilitation patients.
Epworth Rehabilitation is one of the largest private sector rehabilitation services in Australia specialising in the clinical management of patients following hip and knee joint replacement, orthopaedic surgery, neurological events such as stroke, cardiac events, acquired brain injury and pain management issues.
- Lincoln, Merrilyn. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.