A medical team from Cabrini Health banded together to perform life-saving brain surgery on a single mother from Papua New Guinea.
Sue Grasby RN, a nurse manager at Cabrini Malvern, has been awarded Catholic Health Australia’s (CHA) annual Nurse of the Year Award for 2017.
According to Professor Lee Boyd, Cabrini’s Executive Director of Nursing and the Cabrini Institute, Ms Grasby is a strong patient advocate. “I am thrilled that a Cabrini nurse has been awarded CHA Nurse of the Year,” said Professor Boyd. “She represents all nurses at Cabrini who work so hard every day to provide exceptional care.”
The award recognises Ms Grabsy’s volunteer contributions to healthcare services in Papua New Guinea (PNG). “She and her husband lead No Roads Health expeditions, which focus on providing healthcare for villages in PNG with no road access,” said Professor Boyd. “This commitment is undertaken during her annual leave and at considerable personal expense.”
The award includes a cash prize of $5000 for use in supporting a program or for professional development and a trophy.
Ms Grasby says she is committed to improving the health of the PNG people and engaging in health promotion to prevent illness in remote areas.
The road to PNG
Ms Grasby’s involvement with providing health outreach services in PNG was sparked when she trekked the Kokoda Track with family and friends in 2010. Over eight days, the group passed through many small villages and interacted with local people. The experience provided an understanding of the isolation along the track and lack of access to basic health care and medical treatment.
“I felt the need to respond to the chronic lack of health care that is being suffered by our close neighbours and which we take for granted in our country,” she said. “This experience affirmed my desire to give back and try to make a difference to these people who live in remote villages and lack so much in both access and availability of healthcare.”
In 2014, Ms Grasby began volunteering with No Roads Health. Together with a team of nurses, she returned to PNG to provide healthcare to those most in need. The team travelled by foot, car and boat to six remote coastal villages where many of the people they met had never seen a healthcare worker before let alone a nurse from Australia.
Since then, she has returned to PNG twice a year with No Roads Health, and now works as the clinical leader of the teams who volunteer their time and self-fund their trips. Small teams of health professionals, mainly nurses, support health needs within these remote communities, helping people maintain good health, and relieving health problems where possible. “During my most recent trip in March 2017, more than 640 patients attended our six clinics,” she said.
A trusted presence
During her health outreach trips to PNG, Ms Grasby seeks to support and mentor local PNG health care workers and village health assistants who visit remote villages with the team.
“Our clinics see many children with ear conditions related to life near the ocean, tropical leg ulcers compounded by heat and humidity, and many illnesses and disease processes that can be fatal in these remote areas but would be resolved with a simple visit to a GP in Australia,” said Ms Grasby.
Some villagers will often walk or canoe long distances, up to eight hours, to visit the clinics and the team visits elderly or dying people in their homes if they cannot attend.
Ms Grasby’s work includes extensive assessments for PNG children who have congenital or acquired disabilities, injuries and illnesses, for consideration of corrective surgery in conjunction with Children First Foundation (CFF).
“I am dedicated to improving the health and welfare of these people, all the while learning more about the new ailments that are prolific in these regions, many of which are unseen in Australia,” she said. “This cause has become a personal passion of mine and one which I am sharing with others at Cabrini with the primary focus of being to improve healthcare outcomes for those in the remotest areas of PNG.”
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a mere 150 kilometres (93 miles) from Australia’s northern-most tip yet the difference in healthcare between the two countries is immense.
Many Papua New Guineans have diseases that go untreated because they live in remote, almost inaccessible villages high in rainforest-wrapped mountains. However, in the past two years, Cabrini Health nurses have pushed into these villages to give the only first-world healthcare assessments that these people have ever had – and to do so they flew, trekked, paddled and climbed to reach their patients.
There are approximately 400 doctors in PNG’s 462,340 square kilometres (approximately 178,510 square miles). Only 51 of them tend to the more than 90 percent of the population who live outside Port Moresby. Most people living in the highlands have never seen a doctor and many rarely see a healthcare worker. So in April 2016, Cabrini nurses Sue Grasby, Anne Marie Robinson, Bianca Di Sciascio and Monica Wallace left Australia for PNG with two other Melbourne nurses, each prepared to do whatever it took to improve the health outlook for those they visited. They travelled with No Roads to Health, an adventure travel company that arranges trips to remote regions for healthcare workers. The adventure is secondary to the purpose of nursing.
Once in Port Moresby, they boarded a light plane to Popondetta in the north, where they collected supplies and headed for the coastal village of Buna. Buna sits at the northern entrance to the Kokoda Track and is the place at which Japanese soldiers disembarked for the protracted battle that forged an Australian legend. After a two-hour trip in the back of a truck that became bogged in mud, the nurses arrived safely at the village. This was day 44 of torrential rain for the area, rain, which continued unabated throughout their stay. Here they spent two nights in a traditional guesthouse and operated health clinics each day.
Local people trekked into in Buna from remote villages for health checks and treatment, but there had been no medical supplies delivered to the area for more than three months so distressingly, these nurses, used to modern Australian hospitals with everything at their fingertips, could only provide health assessment, professional advice and treat them with Panadol and Indomethacin, a medication used to treat pain and inflammation.
From Buna via Popondetta and a short plane trip, the next stop was Tufi, a remote town set in pristine rainforest. Topographically spectacular, this region is characterized by lofty mountains and dramatic fjords, but there was little time to admire the scenery. In five days, the group conducted eight clinics, seeing 378 people in total. This area was well provisioned with medical supplies and they had the assistance of a local health worker who rowed his canoe almost three hours each way daily to provide healthcare – mostly unpaid. He, like many of PNG’s health workers, taught our nurses as much as they taught him.
“We treated people with painful backs, knees and necks caused by their hard lifestyle; we diagnosed tropical diseases like malaria, yaws, grille, and tended febrile children, giving penicillin where necessary,” said Ms. Robinson.
During the trip, the nurses took photos for orthopaedic surgeons: two of children with club feet for possible medical evacuation, and one of a child whose fractured leg was repaired by a Cabrini surgeon who wanted a progress report.
On the final day, a man brought them his four-year old grandson. They diagnosed nephrotic syndrome, a condition of the kidneys, and arranged for him to be hospitalized. Knowing that the man was poor and far from home, the group pooled money towards the cost of clothes, food and accommodation so that he could remain with his grandson.
Cabrini’s nurses found the Papua New Guineans to be warm, generous and grateful, smiling broadly despite deprivation and pain. This, and the unstinting hospitality they encountered, made up for the steep, treacherously slippery tracks, the bugs, spiders, lack of electricity and running water and the relentless rain. Some have already booked a return trip. “It was a wonderful way of continuing the missionary vision of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Italian Sister who founded the congregation that owns and sponsors Cabrini in Australia, by providing care to those who cannot afford it,” says Monica “To give hope that will transform people’s lives – and to do it with Cabrini’s values of compassion, integrity, courage and respect”.
On Thursday 28 April, the new Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub, a much needed service in Melbourne’s inner-north, was officially opened by Cr Samantha Ratnam, Mayor of Moreland, and blessed by Reverend Monsignor Anthony Ireland STD EV PP, Episcopal Vicar for Health, Aged and Disability Care in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.
The new service, located on the ground floor at 503 Sydney Road in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, will provide healthcare services for asylum seekers and refugees.
Special guests at the event included Cabrini Sisters General Superior Sister Barbara Staley, MSC; Sister Catherine Garry, MSC; Sister Arlene Van Dusen, MSC; and Sister Sharon Casey, MSC; as well as Cabrini Board Chairman Richard Rogers.
“Cabrini is committed to making a difference to the disadvantage faced by asylum seekers and refugees,” says Dr. Michael Walsh, Chief Executive of Cabrini. “We believe that working collaboratively is the most effective way to address disadvantage and will lead to the best health outcomes for the people we want to serve.”
[The Australian state of] Victoria has one of the highest asylum seeker and refugee settlement numbers in Australia. Many asylum seekers in our community have neither work rights nor access to government benefits such as Medicare, Centrelink, housing or emergency relief.
“Our approach is based on strong partnerships with public and private hospitals, community health agencies, asylum seeker/refugee services and others who want to make a difference to the plight of asylum seekers and refugees,” said Dr. Walsh. “We are grateful to the many agencies who have supported the concept and look forward to others joining with us over time to enhance our capacity.”
In his blessing, Monsignor Anthony Ireland reminded the gathering that pain is not hypothetical, it’s not imaginary, it’s real, and the pain of refugees and asylum seekers is a powerful reality in our community, and in societies all over the world.
What Cabrini and everyone associated with the new Centre are doing, Monsignor Ireland said, is giving witness to the Gospel truths. …Everybody involved is doing precisely what the Gospel [calls forth…]
Initial services will begin in May 2016 with GP clinics and specialist mental health services to be offered first. Chronic disease management, maternal and child health and infectious disease management, as well as social, emotional and spiritual support services, will follow.
“Clustering these services in one location will enhance access and facilitate a person-centred, integrated approach to primary and specialist care for this vulnerable group,” said Dr. Walsh.
Initiates Lenten Rice Bowl Campaign
Cabrini High School will host Catholic Relieve Services Speaker Gabriella Rakotomanga on campus Wed. Feb. 3.
Cabrini, a CRS Platinum Global High School Partner, invited Rakotomanga to kick off the school’s Lenten Rice Bowl offerings with a speech in the chapel. Rakotamanga is native to Madagascar and the country’s Project Manager for CRS, supervising humanitarian aid efforts in the island nation off the Southeast coast of Africa. Ninety percent of Madagascar’s 23 million inhabitants are impoverished, subsisting on less than $2 per day.
In her 25 years of service with CRS, Rakotamanga has held a variety of supervisory positions, including a year as base manager and head of office for the CRS response team in Sri Lanka after that country was devastated by a tsunami in 2004. Rakotomanga will recount her efforts in Sri Lanka after one of the worst natural disasters of this century, and her years in Madagascar combating hunger and disease on behalf of Catholic Relief Services.
Cabrini High School honored Mother Cabrini’s annual Feast Day with a mass, a reception, and a Legacy Brunch as a large gathering of the Cabrini family came together on the school’s campus in celebration of Saint Cabrini’s life Friday, November 13th.
Mother Cabrini’s Feast Day is a momentous day to the many students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and their families who have been influenced by her legacy in New Orleans and around the world.
This year’s Feast Day was especially celebratory because three members of the Stella Maris Provincial’s office of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in New York City were in attendance, Provincial Sr. Pietrina Raccuglia MSC, Provincial Councilor; and former Principal and teacher at Cabrini High School and current member of the Board of Trustees, Sr. Catherine Garry, MSC; and former director of the Cabrini Day Care Center, Sr. Archangel Turco MSC.
In addition to the Feast Day Mass, Cabrini hosted its annual Legacy Brunch, honoring alumnae and their legacy daughters and granddaughters. The brunch/reception was open to special guests, all alumnae, faculty, and staff. During the lunch, many historical artifacts and photos of Mother Cabrini, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, students, the buildings, and the events that are part of the history of the school were shared among the attendees.
Once again the Cabrini-Children First (CFF) Big Day Out was a wonderful success.
This time the children’s ages ranged from seven to fifteen years and their countries of origin were even more diverse: Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Palestine, Zambia, the Philippines and Vietnam. As usual, all the children were awaiting, or recovering from, life changing surgeries and in most instances they had been separated from family for an extended time. The day was a fun distraction and they threw themselves into it.
Staff also jumped into the spirit of the day. Kiley Harkness from Communications took the lead role on this trip and said, “For me, it’s about providing the children the chance to experience the feeling of being part of a group of people filled with love and compassion, while giving them a moment where they forget everything and just have fun. If I make them smile sometime during the day it makes it all worthwhile for me.”
The Cabrini-Children First Big Day Out initiative began in 2004 to support the great work of the CFF in a different way. Staff who engage with Cabrini’s Social and Community Engagement Program through volunteering can form special relationships with the children, some of whom they might meet through Cabrini’s medical evacuation program or at subsequent outings. “A small core of our regular volunteers form friendships and the kids really start to talk, joke and open up,” says Ruth Knight, Community Benefit Program manager. “Staff are always amazed at the transformation of some of the kids. Not just physical, post-surgical correction changes, but the boost in confidence that comes with that. It’s overwhelming.”
On this occasion, eleven staff and family members accompanied the children and all enjoyed two games of bowling before moving the festivities to a nearby park for a picnic. Food supplied by the Cabrini staff included savoury muffins, sandwiches, fruit, chips, jellies and homemade cakes and slices; so the children had quite a feast. It was amazing that at the end of the day they still had the energy to kick a footy, chase a frisbee and play ping pong – but they did. Here they were able to play freely and enjoy just being kids without thoughts of surgery or homesickness.
Current and future patients of Cabrini health service will benefit from lifesaving cardiac, acute geriatric, medical imaging and radiotherapy services, with a new facility to be built at Cabrini’s Malvern campus subject to [the approval of local governing authorities].
Cabrini Chief Executive Dr. Michael Walsh says the new clinical building is an essential and inevitable upgrade given the design and length of service of some of Cabrini Malvern’s older buildings.
“For 67 years, Cabrini has provided care and support to our community with compassion, integrity, courage and respect. The Cabrini Sisters opened the original ‘new hospital’ in 1958 and it has cared for tens of thousands of patients for almost 60 years.
“Over the decades, hospital care has changed and the needs of our community have changed,” said Dr. Walsh.
“In 2015, we are caring for an increasing number of elderly patients, many of whom have chronic cardiac, respiratory and other conditions. Our facilities need new and improved design to meet the needs of these patients and their families and to provide the best working environment for our doctors and staff.
More convenient access to radiotherapy cancer treatment will be a key feature of the new clinical building. “Currently, patients who need radiotherapy have to be treated elsewhere. We will soon be able to provide fully integrated cancer care to meet the needs of the Cabrini community,” said Dr. Walsh.
Dr. Walsh says the new building would include an expanded maternity unit with a multidisciplinary, integrated model of care for pregnant women and their families. “Currently 2000 babies are delivered each year at Cabrini and there is a high level of demand for this service. The new facility will ensure we can continue to offer the very best level of care for the community,” he said.
- A new radiotherapy centre and a contemporary day oncology unit with an emphasis on the patient experience
- Expanded maternity facilities and an upgraded special care nursery
- A new cardiac services unit to urgently treat issues of cardiac rhythm and cardiac failure
- An acute geriatric medical unit to meet the needs of elderly, frail, or cognitively impaired patients
- An improved emergency department, which will enable us to treat our increasingly complex patient presentations
- Medical wards for the treatment of neurology, stroke and infectious diseases
- A greater proportion of single patient rooms across all new levels
Dr. Walsh said the project has been well received by the Cabrini community so far.
“We’re looking forward to keeping the community informed about this project and will provide regular updates on the Cabrini website,” Dr. Walsh said.
“We are here to create something NEW”
…These are the words of MSC General Superior Sr. Barbara Staley, spoken as she offered her opening remarks at the 2015 Provincial Assembly currently in session in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Missionary Sisters and lay leaders from the Stella Maris Province were united in an Assembly for the first time with the Missionary Sisters from Mexico and Central America. In the near future, the MSCs from Mexico and Central America will join the MSCs of the Stella Maris Province in forming a new entity.
Sr. Barbara reflected, “we are living the dreams and visions of our sisters of the past. We are building the future, which we look to with hope. Sisters and brothers, we are living in the rivers of grace and mercy; a grace that comes to us through charism.”
Fittingly, as the Stella Maris Province unites with the region of Central America, the theme of the Provincial Assembly is “interculture-ality”. To explore the implications of this new entity – this new union – Dr. Arturo Chavez, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas, led the Assembly in interactive exercises designed to consider the many dimensions of culture.
Taken from the work of Edward T. Hall and Eric H.F. Law, “culture is the particular way in which a human group interprets life and relates with nature, God, the world and other peoples. Culture is lived and expressed through traditions, relationships, food, music, religion, beliefs, thought patterns, myths and how we act. It is not only how we are, it is who we are. It is our history, our ethnicity, how we think about our families, who we include in our families, how we speak and when we speak, how we think about God and how we relate to God. It is how we relate to each other and how we relate to the stranger.”
Dr. Chavez asked the Assembly to consider the “Iceberg Analogy of Culture” created by Hall and Law. In doing so, sisters and laity contemplated the internal and external aspects of culture. The Assembly was invited to share in conversation about individual family heritage and traditions – how these serve to form an individual and his or her perceptions of others and of the world.
The first step in building an intercultural community, posited Dr. Chavez, is to get to know our own hearts. Being aware of our own heart, we come to a better understanding of our own power and how cultures have formed us.
One session of the Assembly focused on the way in which Cabrinian ministries are addressing the pressing issues of immigration, migration, refugees, asylum seekers and human trafficking. It is through these responses that we see how the Cabrinian charism is living and active in the world today.
Woven into the Assembly program were times for prayer and reflection each highlighting a different country present at the Assembly. Liturgies at the Assembly were offered in Spanish and English in honor of the new reality. In a further spirit of celebration, during Monday’s liturgy, Vicky Lucio renewed her commitment as a Cabrini Lay Missionary (CLM).
Nothing transcends culture like music and dancing. Therefore, no Assembly is complete without its own fiesta! With smiles and laughter, Missionary Sisters and laity shared the floor dancing to the beat of Latin, Swazi and American songs…united as one. For more photos visit: www.mothercabrini.org
In September 2015, Cabrini published the second volume of its history From one pebble, many pearls: perspectives on Cabrini Health 1999−2012 by Melbourne based author Di Websdale-Morrissey.
Sister Pietrina Raccuglia MSC, Provincial Superior of the Stella Maris Province (which includes Cabrini in Australia), officially launches the book at a celebration being held at Cabrini Malvern on Tuesday 22 September
As well as providing accounts of key milestones in the evolution of Cabrini in Australia during the past decade, the book includes a section on the development of the Institute of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart over the past ten years providing a key international perspective.
Cabrini Chief Executive Dr Michael Walsh says he is pleased to present the book, which is the second volume of the history of Cabrini Health in Australia. It begins where the last book Cabrini: a hospital’s journey 1948−1998 by Gwynedd Hunter-Payne finished.
“This book provides perspectives on a period of time in Cabrini’s growth and history from 1999 to 2012. Rather than providing a strictly chronological review, this book focuses on a number of key developments in the evolution of our organisation. The stories have been told with the different perspectives of people who were involved at the time, which I think gives a rich account of Cabrini Health over the past decade or so,” said Dr Walsh.
“It is a tribute to the courage and vision of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (the Cabrini Sisters) who founded our institution and continue to sponsor and guide us today. It honours the Cabrini Health Board of Directors, management, doctors, staff and volunteers – past and present – who worked at Cabrini from 1999 until now. I especially thank our three Board Chairs of this era: the late Jan Bitcon, Professor Peter Phelan and Peter Matthey.”
The book is dedicated to Sister Irma Lunghi MSC (1926-2013) and Sister Regina Casey MSC who both spent many years working tirelessly at Cabrini in Australia and were much loved by all.
In rseearching and preparing the manuscript for the book, the author Di Websdale-Morrissey conducted approximately 100 interviews. She says the project “quickly became a fascinating and involving” one that drew her into life at Cabrini.
“Before beginning the project, I had no real knowledge of Cabrini. What surprised me most was its size and reach: the number of campuses, the size of its staff and accredited doctors; its specialisations; never-ending quest for excellence; and its advances into research and education. It was fascinating to discover that Cabrini is often at the forefront of advances in healthcare within the private sector – the introduction of its palliative care service which is unique in Victoria and so many other firsts. Chemtronics (a biomedical engineering business, now part of the Cabrini Technology group) and the Cabrini Linen Service also amazed me with their size and scope.”
Ms Websdale-Morrissey says she enjoyed the process particularly the many interviews she conducted. “The interviewees sat happily sharing their memories,” she said. “I would often get lost in the stories, laughing, crying, admiring. I hope that the book is overwhelmingly a celebration.”
Details about the book
- Soft cover, 336 pages, dimensions 220 mm X 170 mm
- Approximately 150 full colour photographs
- Design and typesetting by Motion Advertising and Design Pty Ltd (Victoria)
- Printing by Adams Printers Pty Ltd (Victoria)
- Cover photography by John O’Flaherty
- Stained glass windows featured on the book cover and throughout the book were created by Australian glass artist David Wright and are located at in the chapel at Cabrini Malvern, 183 Wattletree Road, Malvern
- Publisher is Cabrini Health Limited, which holds copyright
For a copy of the book, please call Cabrini’s marketing and community relations department on ph (03) 9508 3553 or firstname.lastname@example.org