NSW community thanks St Vincent’s Hospital

December 16, 2009 by J-Wire Staff
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The NSW Jewish community has used St Vincents Private Hospital centenary celebrations to express its gratitude for supporting Jewish doctors since its inception.

Jewish doctors found it hard to reach the pinnacle of the medical profession within the NSW medical system from the time the hospital was founded in 1857 by the Sisters of Charity until well into the 20th century.

St Vincent’s spokesman David Faktor told J-Wire: “There were deep-rooted prejudices against Jewish doctors in Sydney. Those prejudices no longer exist but since the establishment of St Vincent’s in 1857, the hospital has had a strong association with the Jewish community as medical staff, patients…and philanthropic support.”

He told J-Wire that history shows a glass ceiling preventing Jewish practioners achieving high office in their profession in late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He said: “There seemed little problem for Jews to enter university to study medicine, but many had difficulty in getting hospital positions…but not as St Vincent’s.”

The candle lighters, from left: Leo Tucker, Glen Falkenstein, Professor Bettina Cass, Marika Weinberger, Professor Ron Penny, Sister Sesarina Bau, Professor David Cooper.

The candle lighters, from left: Leo Tucker, Glen Falkenstein, Professor Bettina Cass, Marika Weinberger, Professor Ron Penny, Sister Sesarina Bau, Professor David Cooper.

Faktor pointed out that the hospital had been home base over the years for many Jewish practioners and clinicians considered to be world-class in the fields of immunology, cardiology, HIV, urology and drug and alcohol affected conditions.

The event wasnorganised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and St Vincent’s.

Eight candles were lit on a menorah, each dedicated to one of the values of the hospital – Justice, Compassion, Dignity, Mercy, Respect, Hospitality, Unity and Excellence.

The candles were lit by Professor Cooper, Director of St Vincent’s Centre for Applied Medical Research, Professor Ron Penny, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of NSW, as well as by Professor Bettina Cass, Chair of the Board of Deputies Social Justice Committee; Holocaust survivor Marika Weinberger; student leader Glen Falkenstein; Francis Cochrane, St Vincent’s Health Support Services Manager; Jose Aguilera, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Director of Nursing; Mark Hales, St Vincent’s Director of Mission; and David Faktor, St Vincent’s Manager of Public Affairs.

Board of Deputies President Robin Margo said: “The Jews of New South Wales feel a deep sense of gratitude to the Sisters of Charity and to their Catholic hospitals and all who work in them for the generosity of spirit they showed, ahead of their time, in welcoming doctors and other staff of the Jewish faith, and of other faiths and cultures, to share in their healing work.

“The hospital’s centenary is a special occasion for our community, as it is for all the people of Sydney and New South Wales.”

St Vincent’s Private Executive Director Robert Cusack said: “An area, where Sydney Jewry can be universally proud, is the abundant supply of brilliant and compassionate Jewish clinicians, many of whom are here tonight… We have been blessed with a disproportionately high number of Jewish specialists, who in many fields have actually shaped their departments and in some cases elevated us onto the world stage.

I know that St Vincents’ clinical reputation has long been a major contributor in attracting Jewish clinicians to this Campus, but clearly the mission and values of the Sisters have also  played a major role. After all, the beacon of light that is our values –  compassion, justice, dignity, excellence, unity, mercy, hospitality and respect  shines down brightly on both our communities.

Tonight we celebrate this unity. Thank you for being here and for all that you have contributed to the Sisters of Charity and St Vincent’s.”

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