Meet the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Day Surgery Unit | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
 In Lifehouse News

11 February 2016

The Day Surgery Unit (DSU) provides care and treatment for patients requiring cancer-related surgery. The services they provide include endoscopy, plastics and reconstruction surgery, head and neck surgery, gynae oncology surgery, breast surgery, urology, ear nose and throat surgery, colorectal surgery, Mohs, thoracic surgery and upper gastrointestinal surgery. The unit is located on levels three and four at Lifehouse.

The unit’s mission is to provide a seamless service so patients are well prepared and cared for. As Virginia Marshall, the DSU Nurse Unit Manager (NUM), said: “It’s so important for our patients to have a positive experience so that they keep coming back and continuing their treatment.

“Our goal is to make the health system safer and more efficient. We support, nurture and empower patients and their families. We improve patient experience by actively listening and providing clear and comprehensive information. We make sure that safety, support, privacy and dignity are always maintained.”

The Day Surgery Unit sees an average of 375 patients a month. As the unit is made up of two teams, Admissions and Day Surgery, and each patient is seen by both teams, the whole unit undertakes an average of 700 to 800 patient appointments each month.

The Admissions team is made up of four staff. They greet the patient, talk through all the paperwork and work out the billing. They also liaise with the doctors’ rooms for theatre times and lists.

The pre-admission clinic is a service provided for patients who require extra review prior to receiving an anaesthetic for their surgery. The clinic is run by one of the valued nursing team members, and the anaesthetic group, and supported by the Clinical Nurse Consultants (CNCs). The pre-admission clinic involves ensuring the patient is fit for surgery, seeing the patient’s anaesthetist and the CNC for their particular tumour stream, as well as checking blood tests, X-rays and reports from specialists.

On the day of surgery, the Day Surgery team greets the patient and the nurses guide them through surgery. After surgery, the nursing staff ensure the patient has all their follow up appointments booked in, as well as all the information they need to go home safely and what to do in an emergency.

The Day Surgery nursing team consists of 12 staff members, including the NUM, Endorsed Enrolled Nurses and a Personal Services Assistant. Two members of the team are working toward becoming Clinical Nurse Specialists, two are continuing with their nursing registration and one is further developing her skills working in a paediatric chemotherapy unit at another hospital.

The DSU service doesn’t finish when the patient heads home. The day after surgery, a member of the unit calls each patient to check how they are going and if they have any questions. The unit also reviews every patient, either in person or over the phone.

One patient wrote about their time with the DSU: “Dear Virginia, I would be very pleased if you could pass on my very sincere thanks to the wonderful team who looked after me during my recent visits to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. The professionalism of the staff was outstanding. The best I have experienced from any organisation anywhere in the world.

“Every person introduced themselves to me, had a smile of greeting, told me what their role was, what they were doing and why and assured me that if I had any questions or concerns, please not to hesitate to raise them.

“An anecdote to explain. I was in the pre operating theatre waiting area and was asked if I needed a second blanket. Initially I didn’t and said no. Then when I asked, the young male nurse went and fetched one, it was heated! I was very happy about that! He uncovered me and very carefully tucked the additional blanket over my feet, asked if I would like it up to my neck (which I do) carefully tucked around my neck and then replaced the original covers. He was so kind and took my care so personally.”

If you have any questions about the DSU, contact Virginia Marshall on 8514 0412 or

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