Key facts:

  • $2.5m donation from La Trobe Financial Charitable Foundation
  • $108k to increase ICU capacity by a third
  • $15m donated to Epworth over four years

More critically ill people from Geelong and southwest Victoria will benefit from an expansion of the intensive care unit (ICU) at Epworth Geelong.

A generous donation by La Trobe Financial enables the Epworth Geelong ICU expansion from nine to twelve rooms, treating people recovering from major surgery and serious illness. The $108k donation for three intensive care beds is part of a $2.5m donation by La Trobe Financial Charitable Foundation to Epworth, Victoria’s largest not-for-profit private hospital group.

Another $51,000 will be spent on patient monitors, benefitting patient care at the bedside.

Dr Lachlan Henderson, Group Chief Executive, Epworth HealthCare said the additional donation will benefit the local community as thousands of patients wait for elective surgery.

“As the pandemic unfolded, La Trobe Financial was the first to offer Epworth help in March 2020, by donating $1 million to purchase PPE to keep our patients, staff and doctors safe. They continue to generously support Epworth,” Dr Henderson said.

“As we emerge from the current COVID-19 wave, we know there is a large number of patients who require elective surgery that was delayed over the last two years due to the pandemic.” 

“Surgical waiting lists are significant and we will be incredibly busy treating a large number of patients,” Dr Henderson said.

Donation to benefit patients for years

Greg O’Neill OAM, La Trobe Financial President & CEO commented, “Our Charitable Foundation is proud to play an important role during the pandemic and for years to come.”

“One person alone can’t solve all societal challenges but working together to rebuild our communities must be our mantra post this pandemic. There is much to be done in both the physical and mental health areas to build people’s confidence and belief in a positive future. We need an army and the power of corporate philanthropy to now support organisations like Epworth in these times,” Mr O’Neill said.

“We are simply in awe of all the healthcare workers across Australia and the way they have conducted themselves and placed themselves, often at risk, to save lives of others. This is one small way we can thank them for their untiring service and outstanding professionalism, benefitting Epworth patients for years to come.” added Mr O’Neill.

The ICU at Epworth Geelong expanded to nine beds at the start of the pandemic to treat private and public patients, thanks to the support of generous donors including the Costa Foundation and other philanthropists.


Associate Professor Nerina Harley, Director of Epworth Geelong Intensive Care Unit, said the addition of another three beds in the ICU is perfectly timed with complex neurosurgery to increase.

“Last month, in a first for the region, we welcomed the arrival of a $2.4 million intraoperative CT scanner for use in complex brain and spinal surgery at Epworth Geelong,” A/Prof Harley said.

“It is an absolute game changer to have the ICU expanded to care for patients after significant spinal, neuro, upper gastrointestinal and colorectal surgery. To have additional support again from our friends at La Trobe Financial is extraordinary, as it directly benefits patient care and patient outcomes.”

Yvonne Burgess knows too well the importance of the ICU at Epworth Geelong.

In 2018, she spent three months being treated at Epworth Geelong after she developed an auto immune illness called Guillain-Barré syndrome, which causes nerve inflammation.

“I had some achy legs while on a trip to Canada and developed a sore back in Hong Kong on a stop-over to visit my children,” Mrs Burgess said.

“It felt like someone was cutting the back of my legs with a knife and I knew I had to get home. It attacks the nervous system, so at one stage I was paralysed from the neck down.”

Mrs Burgess went to the Emergency Department at Epworth Geelong. She spent a month in intensive care, two months on the ward, and another two months in rehabilitation.

Today’s donation means the La Trobe Financial Charitable Foundation has provided over $15m to Epworth in the last four years.


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