Annual Carols by Candlelight a joyous evening

Sweet music wafts to wards

img_0945Toes were tapping and heads were swaying as music students from the University of Western Australia treated patients, visitors and staff at St John of God Murdoch Hospital to a musical performance in October.

The ensemble gathered in the patient lounges of the hospital to play a variety of traditional pieces such as the Water is Wide and The Ash Grove, as well as well-known melodies such as Here Comes the Sun and I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.

Violinist Kate Milligan said performing at the hospital provided her and her fellow musicians with a great opportunity to play music to patients who might be feeling unwell, lonely or perhaps even bored.

“It’s a wonderful thing to play for people who might really need some enjoyment or relaxation,” Ms Milligan said.

“Music and health care is such a fascinating area as music has the potential to be not only therapeutic, but medicinal, in people’s recovery.”

These concerts form part of the students’ assessment in one of their units, Music in the Community.

St John of God Murdoch Hospital has held a number of jazz concerts for patients and hosts visiting primary schools who sing carols at Christmas time.

Art Curator Connie Petrillo from the hospital says holding the concerts in the lounges enables the music to float down the corridors into patient rooms.

“Often patients will come to watch the concerts but it is equally valuable for the patients who are too unwell to listen from their beds,” Ms Petrillo said.

“Music, as with other art forms, can have incredible benefits on health and we are looking forward to growing this program at the hospital.”

Remembrance Service to provide comfort

The recently unveiled Chapel at St John of God Murdoch Hospital will provide the venue for a new Remembrance Service for families in the community who have experienced the loss of a baby.

Pastoral Services Manager Jenni Ashton says our society doesn’t always recognise this grief so it can be difficult for people to acknowledge their loss.

“We hope to create a therapeutic space for guests to remember and feel supported, as they take time to acknowledge their loss, grief journey, and their hopes for the future,” Ms Ashton says.

“Families are often expected to ‘get over’ their miscarriage at some point but we should remember that sometimes, grief has no time limit.”

Grief can reappear at milestones, such as on the expected due date or the anniversary of a miscarriage. Feelings of loss can also reappear with pregnancy or when a families’ own baby is born. For some, the experience of grief is minimal.

Ms Ashton says her team at the hospital aims to provide people with support that is appropriate to how they are feeling.

“We use whatever we can to help people cope with their loss. Support can come in the form of someone to talk to, comforting words, naming and recognition of life certificates, facilitating cremations and creating memorials,” Ms Ashton says.

“We encourage people not to be anxious, to ask questions, and to be open to the process of grief that often impacts people in unexpected ways. We try to help them to understand their reactions and look for ways to adjust to their loss.”

All are welcome.

When: 10.30 am, Saturday 24 September 2016

Where: Chapel, St John of God Murdoch Hospital, at main entrance to hospital.

RSVP: email or phone 9311 4772 by 19 September.

Refreshments will be provided.

Funding for falls

Professor Leanne Monterosso. CEO St John of God Foundation Josephine Board and Dr Gail Ross-Adjie.

Professor Leanne Monterosso, CEO St John of God Foundation Josephine Board and Dr Gail Ross-Adjie.

Researchers from the Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Research at St John of God Murdoch Hospital, Dr Gail Ross-Adjie and Professor Leanne Monterosso, have been awarded a Babe Norman Research Grant to enable the Centre to continue its extensive research into patient falls.

The grant will enable completion of the first phase of the Centre’s research into identifying the incidence, cost and outcome of falls after total hip and total knee replacement surgery as well as identifying which patients are at high risk of falls. It will also fund the second phase of the study which will develop, implement and evaluate a falls prevention program for high risk falls patients.

Dr Gail Ross-Adjie says clinicians cannot underestimate the impact falls have on a person’s recovery and wellbeing.

“Contrary to what some people think, falls are not necessarily a minor event and can lead to significant injury and hospitalization,” Dr Ross-Adjie says.

“It can set a person back, physically and mentally, as well as put stress on hospital resources.”

“Some patients never recover from a fall and completely lose their independence.”

“We are very grateful for this grant which will certainly help us discover more about why falls occur and how best to prevent them.”

The research grant will award the department $75, 000 over a two year period.

The Rosemary Norman Foundation was established by former nurse Rosemary Norman and named after her father, Reginald ‘Babe’ Norman.  Rosemary is committed to supporting high quality nursing research in Australia that will improve bedside nursing care, and importantly longer-term patient and family health outcomes.

In addition to extensive research on the incidence, risk factors and healthcare cost of falls, the Centre has embarked on research in the areas of women’s health and wellbeing after cancer, indigenous maternity care, the possibility of intergenerational tension in the nursing workforce and employee engagement, amongst others.

Prospective new studies for this year include survivorship after cancer treatment, breastfeeding outcomes and identifying palliative care needs in emergency department patients.

Hospital awarded for empowering patients

Director Marketing and Community Relations Roshan Weddikkara, Chief Executive Officer John Fogarty and Quality Manager Kimberley Montgomery.

Director Marketing and Community Relations Roshan Weddikkara, Chief Executive Officer John Fogarty and Quality Manager Kimberley Montgomery.

St John of God Murdoch Hospital was recognised for its commitment to empower patients to get involved in their health with an award at the 2016 Health Consumer Council Awards.

The hospital came highly commended in the Organisations category, for which the team at Murdoch demonstrated how they involved patients and their families in their care, improving health outcomes and patient experience.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer John Fogarty said the hospital has implemented a number of initiatives over the past year to help empower patients to be informed and make decisions about their health, whilst they are in hospital and after they go home.

“We believe when patients are truly a part of their care; when they are armed with the necessary information and feel comfortable asking questions, their needs can be met in the best possible way,” Mr Fogarty said.

“This approach helps us provide care that leads to better health outcomes for our patients, their families and our community.”

Through these partnerships, the hospital has improved health outcomes for patients in the areas of falls, pressure injuries and medication safety. Key to the success of this nomination, was the Working Together To Care patient safety card aimed at involving patients and their carers in preventing falls, pressure injuries, medication errors and health-care associated infections.

The hospital also has a number of working committees that involve patients and their families to continually look at ways to improve clinical quality and patient experience.

Mr Fogarty says the hospital will continue to strengthen its relationships with its patients to discover new and improved ways to deliver the hospital’s services.

“This award is testimony to the great strides taken in this area across our hospital, and we look forward to even greater inroads into consumer participation and partnerships into the future.”

If you would like to have a say in your care, you can join the Murdoch Community Consultative Committee (MCCC), which is made up of patients, former patients, visitors and families, who give their input to help improve the experiences of our patients. Please contact Carolyn Ryder on 9428 8634 or







Ancient practice brings much needed comfort

Reflexologist Josephine Jolly brings relaxation to hospice patients.

Reflexologist Josephine Jolly brings relaxation to hospice patients.

At a difficult time in their lives, patients and carers are unwinding with complementary therapies offered in the Footprints Day Centre at the St John of God Murdoch Hospice.

Qualified practitioners provide the free therapies, including reflexology, Reiki and massage, to patients who are in palliative care and to their carers who need a moment to relax.

Volunteer Reflexologist Josephine Jolly, who has experienced breast cancer in the past herself, says the practice is particularly beneficial to those who are experiencing great stress in their lives.

“For those who have a terminal illness and for those who take care of people who are very unwell, reflexology can offer a break from the unrelenting stress,” Josephine says.

“It is a true honour to provide comfort and calm to someone when their time is precious and limited.”

Reflexology is an ancient practice, first recorded as a pictograph on the Egyptian tomb of Ankhamor in 2330 BC. Reflexologists apply pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands or ears, believing this corresponds to different organs and systems and benefits the person’s health and wellbeing.

In- and outpatients at Footprints Day Centre find not only does pain in their feet, legs and other part of the body diminish after sessions, but their anxiety levels are also lower.

Maria, a patient at the hospice, says reflexology helps her whole body relax and gives her relief from the nerve pain in feet.

“It is so good to get some relief,” Maria says. “I miss it when I don’t get to my session.”

Kay, who cares for her father, says reflexology gives her an hour of relaxation and helps her feel more rational.

“I am then in a better frame of mind to care for my dad,” Kay says.

“I also find that I feel able to safely express some of the issues that cause me stress, knowing that these will be kept confidential. When I walk out of Footprints I walk away a different person from the one that went in!”

Although reflexology is not used to diagnose or cure health disorders, it is widely used to complement other treatments.

“Used in conjunction with traditional medicine and treatments, we really see the physical and emotional benefits of complementary therapies at the hospice,” Josephine says.

“They really do have an extraordinary power to make you feel better when you didn’t think it was possible.”

If you are a Reflexologist and would like to volunteer at the Murdoch Hospice, please email or visit



Centre to provide sleep solutions

The Murdoch Sleep Centre has opened at St John of God Murdoch Hospital to help provide diagnosis and treatment for people with sleep difficulties such as snoring, Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and insomnia.

Sleep Physician Dr Scott Phung says most issues related to sleep are first managed by general practitioners but some people need further assistance to combat insomnia, snoring, sleep apnoea and other problems.

“When people find themselves battling to sleep for more than a month and it impairs their daytime function, it’s time to look into the causes of their night-time wakefulness,” Dr Phung says.

“Other people present with problems of daytime tiredness or sleepiness without any sleep disturbance other than snoring.”

“At the Centre, we monitor sleeping patients overnight to gain a clear, and accurate, picture of what is really happening at night-time.”

Dr Phung and his colleagues use a polysomnogram to monitor breathing, heart rate, snoring, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, brainwaves, respiratory effort, body position and leg movements. These data are collated to form an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan is then put into place.

After their sleep issues are resolved, patients report a significant improvement in their quality of life.

“Getting a good night’s sleep, both in terms of quantity and quality of sleep, reduces health risks, helps you cope with the challenges of life and generally contributes to a much better quality of life.”

“Patients are delighted with how their lives are turned around – it’s very rewarding to see.”

The Murdoch Sleep Centre is a collaboration with Sleep Studies Australia.

GP Education Program launches

medical stethoscopeSt John of God Murdoch Hospital is very pleased to launch a new GP Education Program for all general practitioners in its geographical catchment.

The program will include a comprehensive range of interesting education sessions throughout the year, with all of the sessions being accredited for QI and CPD RACGP points. The sessions will be held at the hospital.

The program will contain a broad range of topics from many specialty areas that are relevant to general practitioners.

The first session for the year is on prostate cancer diagnosis and management with an expert panel discussion.

If you would like to find out more about the GP Education Program, please email

Hydration message needs diluting

waterKeeping hydrated is an accepted part of being healthy for many of us, but recent research suggests that drinking excessive amounts of fluid when exercising might not be so beneficial for our health.

Professor Emergency Medicine Ian Rogers from St John of God Murdoch Hospital says the message to ‘drink, drink, drink’ is a relatively new one and just a generation ago, people only drank when they were thirsty.

“We now see everyone carrying water bottles and sports drinks to meet their assumed fluid quota for the day,” Professor Rogers says.

“Not that long ago, people drank when they felt thirsty, which was just fine.”

For athletes, keeping hydrated is seen as a critical component of performance ability, but when water, sports drinks and other hypotonic fluids are consumed excessively, the kidneys are unable to excrete the excess fluid. This lowers the sodium level which is needed for the organs, particularly the brain, to function properly.

This condition is known as Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia (EAH) and its symptoms include headaches, vomiting and altered mental status such as confusion. In extreme cases, it can lead to seizures and even death.

Although globally rates of EAH are low, it has been reported across a large cross-section of sports and activities. Athletes who have suffered with varying degrees of EAH include triathletes, soldiers, marathon runners, footballers, hikers, rowers, kayakers and Bikram (hot) yoga participants.

In 2013, a participant in the Rottnest Channel Swim was treated for EAH after drinking excessive fluids. She ultimately recovered well, but only after specialist critical care treatment.

Professor Rogers is one of an international panel of experts whose aim is to eliminate deaths associated with EAH.

“These deaths, although rare, can be avoided with education about the dangers of drinking excessively,” Professor Rogers says.

“Drink according to your thirst – your body knows when you need to drink more.”

Professor Rogers was one of seventeen international experts who convened in the USA in 2015 to review the current data and update previous guidelines on EAH. The delegates represented four countries and nine medical and scientific sub-specialties pertaining to athletic training, exercise physiology, sports medicine, water/sodium metabolism and body fluid homeostasis.

Stitches in waiting room ease patients’ anxiety

tapestry picsmallPatients waiting for surgery at St John of God Murdoch Hospital are enjoying the skills of three talented weavers who are interpreting a painting by Perth artist Elizabeth Marruffo in a waiting room at the hospital.

Karen Vernard, Connie Ward and Toni Potulski have been hard at work recreating painting since last July, which was painted especially for this project and inspired by the embroideries made by the Otomi people of Mexico.

Ms Marruffo is delighted at how her work is progressing and the impact it has on the patients and visitors at the hospital.

“I feel very privileged that it is unfolding in this context and extremely grateful that the tapestry weavers are dedicating so much time and effort into realising the project,” Ms Marruffo said.

“It’s beneficial for people to be able to see art in unexpected places and be exposed to the mysterious ways things are made.”

“I do believe that being surrounded by great art and thoughtful architecture is good for any persons’ wellbeing.”

The tapestry depicts the artist herself and the tree of life, surrounded by colourful imagery on a muted background.

Curator Connie Petrillo says the project has turned the waiting room into a vibrant space for patients, who are often nervous and apprehensive before their surgery.

“So many people are talking about what an amazing project it is,” Ms Petrillo says.

“It’s a wonderful thing to watch both the tapestry take shape and see how everyone is getting involved in the process.”

The tapestry is expected to be completed in the middle of this year and will become a part of the hospital’s extensive art collection.