14/10/2010 - 00:00

Profitability a community concern

14/10/2010 - 00:00

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ST John of God Hospital may most commonly be thought of as a birthing hospital but there’s a lot more than meets the eye to the medical giant, with a foundation in the same name involved across a range of community services and healthcare projects.

ST John of God Hospital may most commonly be thought of as a birthing hospital but there’s a lot more than meets the eye to the medical giant, with a foundation in the same name involved across a range of community services and healthcare projects.

The healthcare group has a long history in Western Australia, with seven sisters of the St John of God Irish ministry arriving in Perth in 1895 to start care for the typhoid-stricken gold rush state.

Fast-track to 2010 and St John of God operates four hospitals in WA and seven others across Australia, while the St John of God Foundation sits in the background, providing services to the most marginalised groups in society and filling gaps in palliative care, research centres and hospices.

Until earlier this year, the foundation was run independently of St John of God Healthcare Inc (Healthcare), the organisation under which the hospitals are run, but in February the foundation was put under the auspice of Healthcare.

The foundation now has major arms of operation – with Social Outreach and Advocacy now running the hands-on community work, including the five supported accommodation outfits under the Horizon House banner – while the fundraising and administration work operates under the jurisdiction of Healthcare.

St John of God Foundation chief executive Josephine Casserly told WA Business News the change in structure had provided the foundation with greater support in a financial sense and also in a human resource capacity.

“In the not for profit, there is myself and one other person and two admin staff and yet we have raised over $40 million in our 15 years here. We have done pretty well on small staffing. Now as well as raising the money, those projects have so much strength,” Ms Casserly said.

The foundation may not have always had the administrative support from the hospital, but having the St John of God name behind the operations of the foundation has meant greater support.

Ms Casserly and her team recently raised $20 million to build the Comprehensive Cancer Centre, aided by philanthropist Jack Bendat, adjoining the St John of God Subiaco. She said nurturing relationships and building on the respect St John of God’s name commands in WA was important to sustaining ongoing community support for the organisation.

“Without the sisters’ reputation and the hospital’s reputation in Perth, undoubtedly, Jack would not have got involved. As he said, they have been here for 111 years, they are going to be here and they are known as a first-class organisation,” Ms Casserly said.

“It is keeping those relationships alive and well and keeping them involved and informed of where their money is going without giving them an onerous task.

“Our healthcare system is a not for profit; we’re still profitable it’s just our profits go back into redevelopment of our hospitals and our caregivers, rather than shareholders.

“That is the difference with not for profits; it doesn’t mean you are not profitable, you should be, or you are not a good steward, but the shareholders in St John of God’s sense is the community.”

 

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