Eastern Health ECMO Service Surpasses Expectations

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Eastern Health’s ICU team has been nominated for the Safer Care Victoria Award for Quality and Safety Improvement as part of the Victorian Public Health Care Awards, for successfully implementing a sustainable Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) service.

ECMO is a lifesaving, resource-intense treatment which critically ill patients in the eastern metropolitan region of Melbourne had limited or no access to prior to 2019.
Eastern Health ECMO Clinical Lead, Dr John Dyett talked about the importance of providing this service to the community.

“The real key for us was improving equity of access… because it was only available in a couple of places in a comprehensive way, in Victoria. What we were able to bring to the eastern Metropolitan Community was really an improvement in the equity of access to this life saving technology that they hadn't previously enjoyed timely access to. That has meant patients getting lifesaving treatment that they otherwise would not have lived long enough to get,” Dr John Dyett said.

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Since its inception in 2019, the ECMO service has managed 47 patients, including approximately 15 per cent of the state’s COVID ECMO patients.

Eastern Health’s previous lack of experience with ECMO was overcome through rigorous system design and comprehensive education and training programs for medical and nursing staff. Financial barriers to service implementation are a common challenge, and in this case the Eastern Health Foundation provided a model of community partnership to fund the improved equity of access to ECMO in the eastern metropolitan region of Melbourne.

Director of ICU Services, Associate Professor Owen Roodenburg had a very clear vision on how to move forward with the project.

“We were required to demonstrate the quality of service; we certainly couldn't embark on this in a way that didn’t meet the standards that were already established. So we had to meet and exceed expectations and do that before we started [the ECMO service] to get the confidence of our own organisation, our partners in the community, our patients, and the community of specialists,” he said.

“We believe we are now doing this in an exceptional way.”

The Victorian Public Healthcare Awards present an opportunity for Victoria to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of our healthcare workers and public health services. The finalists will be announced in July.