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Hunter Eye Surgeons began in 2006 when Dr Peter Davies answered the call of local Ophthalmologists to move to the Hunter Valley, and bring his skills as a vitreo-retinal Surgeon and retinal diseases specialist to the region. To provide the highest level of service, he required the latest imaging technology, such as the new Zeiss OCT macula scanner. After working in several clinics, at the time none of these clinics wanted to make the investment in technology.
So in February 2006, Dr Davies opened his own independent rooms in Broadmeadow, NSW. Starting with his mum Rosemary as the first administrator, the staff slowly grew, one by one, as the need grew. Working out of 135 square meters soon became impossible, so we began to look for larger premises. Two things soon became clear. Firstly, there were lots of emergency retinas requiring urgent surgery, and often these could only be done after hours. Second, there was no perfect hospital for eye surgery, and it became clear to Dr Davies that, in order to control the quality of the surgical results, he needed to control the hospital as well.
So in January 2009, he opened Newcastle Eye Hospital, as the region's first hospital exclusively devoted to eye health. Newcastle Eye Hospital is a licensed day surgery, and is accredited and assessed every year by the NSW Department of Health. We are graded against other hospitals in Australia.
As well as growing demand for eye surgeries, such as cataract, retinal disease, and pterygium, there was a growing demand for macula treatment with eye injections. This revolutionary treatment has preserved the eye sight for hundreds of thousands of Australians since 2006.
The eye injections need to be repeated, sometimes as often as every month, and it became clear that a team approach was required. Dr Davies decided that it was not good enough to schedule the patient's treatment around a doctor's availability. If a particular eye needed an injection in a particular week, then that is what should happen.
And so in 2012, Dr Davies was joined by independent specialist Dr Anthony Hall, an expert in the treatment of retinal disease. Between the two of them, they could cover every week of the year, and provide the perfect level of service for the patients.
Another advantage of Newcastle Eye Hospital for the patients, is that patients can use private health insurance for their eye care. Patients can elect Day Hospital admission for any eye procedure that Medicare grades as level A or level B. Usually this results in significant financial savings for the patient.
In 2023 Hunter Eye Surgeons celebrated our 17th birthday. We have lost count of the number of patients that have received care - thought to be over 70 000 residents of our region. Newcastle Eye Hospital is entering our 15th year of care, and 25 000 patients have had surgery with us at least once. We employ over 60 staff, supporting over 60 families.
But it is always about the one patient having care. It is about you. It was about Joan, the very first patient of Dr Davies in 2006, and we remember her memory. It is about the man with the ruptured eye ball last week. It is about the lady blind from cataract, who now gets to see her children and grandchildren again. It is about the man who needs injections every month, but sees perfectly with them.
It is about you.
What an honour it is for us.
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