CARING FOR PEOPLE WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS

10th June 1999

 

Opening The Coral Pentecost Centre at Wesley Mission's Wandine Hospital 

 

Australians still have a fear and a shame about acknowledging the presence of mental illness among us. 87% of Australians believe they are unlikely ever to experience mental illness. Yet the fact is that one in five adults will experience an episode of mental illness during his or her lifetime. Most will not require hospitalization, but will be treated by General Practitioners using a mixture of antidepressants, rest cure and good luck.

 

However, revolutions have taken place in the treatment of mental illness with dramatic reduction in the times taken for treatment, the percentage of people requiring hospitalization, and an amazing decrease in the percentage of people requiring long-term care. However, with the increasing longevity of men and women, there is an increase in the number of people living long years with forms of senility, Alzheimer’s Disease, and dementia.

 

About 1:100 Australians experience schizophrenia during their lives. Today about 180,000 people are effected, with the disease mostly developing in later teenage years. About 1:50 teenage girls suffer from Anorexia and Bulimia which produces tragic consequences if not effectively treated. About 1:12 Australians experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. This includes the onset of various phobias and stress disorders, often as a result of significant losses and traumas. About 1:7 Australians are effected by depression. This illness takes many forms and can be effectively treated once the right form of treatment is diagnosed and that requires professional psychiatric help and possibly hospitalization.

 

For each of these, and for other unnamed physical, psychological and mental illnesses, Wesley Mental Health Services are available with the very best of facilities and personnel. When Christians face these issues we are particularly pleased that they can find Christian hospitals with care that understands their faith and hope. Wesley Mission in 1946 opened Waddell House as the first private Christian psychiatric hospital in Australia.

 

When I became Superintendent of Wesley Mission in the late 1970's, I saw Waddell House as a keystone for our future ministries in mental health care. I indicated that I wanted to embark upon a major program of expansion, rebuilding and property acquisition. I frequently took chapel services and took a direct interest in this development of that hospital. In 1985, we built a modern thirty eight bed fully acute Private Hospital, specializing in psychiatric care. I took a personal lead in the fundraising to enable this to be accomplished.

 

Wesley Private Hospital comprises Waddell House with its consulting rooms and community dining and recreation facilities, the Peterson Chapel, the Mabel and Franklyn Barrett Wing, with 38 individual rooms and sunny gallery, the Parkin Pavilion, the Milton St Doctors Rooms, the Arthur St properties, three half ¬way houses providing specialized facilities for the care and treatment of psychiatric and emotional disorders, four properties in Milton Street for additional medical suites, a Day centre, and a block of four three bed-room flats to accommodate up to 14 people while undergoing day care treatment. The Hospital provides a full range of therapeutic modules emphasizing individual psychotherapy, rehabilitation, transitional therapy, and pharmaco therapy.

 

Programs are carried out within a positive Christian context. Patients are referred from local medical practitioners to our twenty specialists. Wesley Hospital also provides community based accommodation on the campus for sixteen people, who because of their special need for a supportive environment, benefit from living close to hospital support. The success of this program is demonstrated as residents gain new strength and independence, returning to their family and work. Wesley Hospital is fully accredited by the Australian Council of Hospital Standards to provide a full range of psychiatric services and is committed to the pursuit of excellence in patient care. Wesley Hospital is also an accredited teaching Hospital for the Medical Schools of both the Universities of News South Wales and Sydney.

 

In January 1988, we commenced discussions with Mr. and Mrs. Pentecost and their partners concerning the purchase of Wandine Private Hospital for a total price of $12 million. The purchase was most protracted and took the whole year to finalize. This was neither the fault of Mr. and Mrs. Pentecost and their partners nor Wesley Mission. Nor was it an argument over price. The months of delay were the result of Wesley Mission having to gain the approvals of two Uniting Church Boards whose membership composes people elected to their positions. Some of these people have strong political views opposing the Church operating a Private Hospital. One Board has actually published papers opposing such a move in spite of the fact that the Uniting Church in Victoria operates the largest private hospital in Australia, and the Uniting Church in Queensland operates the Private Hospital regularly judged the best in Australia.

 

The Boards received professional advices that conflicted with each other, including professional advice that contained errors that Professor A.H.Pollard of Wesley Mission had to correct. Wesley Mission had to use all of its persuasiveness to help Synod Board members make decisions that were beyond their normal experience. But eventually, after twelve months of intensive research and debate the deal was approved, albeit, with the normal string of provisos, ifs and buts, requirements and reportings that are normal from uncertain committees.

 

The acquisition of Wandine Private Hospital not only gave Wesley Mission a modern 30 bed hospital strategically located in one of Sydney’s most important geographical areas, but also the capacity to increase our spread of Christian care. The doctors associated with Wandine appreciated our Christian values, which is a tribute to Coral Pentecost and her own Christian values. Immediately we set about renovating and extending the property in English Street backing onto the Hospital with the intention of providing up-graded medical suites, consulting rooms, lecture rooms, chapel, and day therapy centre. In due time we plan to add a second storey with ten additional rooms for patients for which we have approval.

 

Eighteen months after the first discussions about the purchase of Wandine, Wesley Mental Health Services commenced an extension of its day services and therapy programs in the magnificent Norman Cull building which we built in Carlingford. This new work now gives us facilities to care for people with mental health problems in Sydney’s West, South and North. There is no greater thrill than seeing people return home having been made whole.

 

The healing of the mind is one of the most important miracles resulting from medical science and Christian care. The role of Christian faith among our psychiatrists, doctors, nurses and therapists, and the specific role of the Chaplain is of utmost importance. Our volunteers, from the front desk and the patient trolley to those engaged in the Chapel services and patient visitation are of extreme importance to both the Hospital and the patients. Our nursing service gives expert care in a homely environment. This care is achieved through staff education and support enabling the nurses to fulfil their professional responsibilities in a loving manner, respecting the patient’s own right to decision making and responsibility. The well being of the patient is uppermost with their care and comfort ensuing from professional nursing. This has been recognized in our achievement of the accreditation standards of Australia, and, in Wesley Hospital, of the International ISO 9000 standards.

 

It is still vitally important for people to keep private health insurance to allow you the choice of doctor and hospital. It is even more important these days when bed availability in public hospitals is rarely there when you need it most. As part of our philosophy of care and commitment to meeting the needs of people in the community, Wesley Mission is paying up to $300,000 a year to the hospitals to pay for benevolent patients, so that free hospital care can be given to people in necessitous circumstances.

 

In fifty years Wesley Mission’s Mental Health Services have grown in an outstanding Christian ministry that places us in leadership among private psychiatric hospitals in Australia.                         

 

We need to provide for future programs that could see treatment for addictions, stress management, alcohol and tobacco abuse, and other specific disorders. Greater involvement in the healing process from family members, friends and community networks will be seen in coming days. What is out of order and dysfunctional is usually not just a person but a family, or a relationship or a community of acquaintances, and we cannot heal one without the support of the others.

 

We are proud of fifty years of caring for the mentally ill, in a world where the illnesses and their treatments have changed but public perception has not. Wesley Mission has a proud tradition of care what is enhanced by each moment. The third millennium will bring its new challenges and Wesley Mission is looking to Wesley Mental Health Services and its Hospitals to continue its role of being on the cutting edge of care. We thank God for the past and trust him for the future¬.

 

I have much pleasure in naming this building: THE CORAL PENTECOST CENTRE.