Local reproductive unit scores a world first
Monday, 5 February 2001
In its 22 years of existence, Repromed has managed quite a few impressive 'firsts.' Repromed, the corporate name of Adelaide University's Reproductive Medicine Unit, provides fertility services. The unit's work is distinguished by its use of the latest research in reproductive medicine and, in initiating much of that research, the unit has played an international role in helping infertile couples realise the dream of a child of their own.
More than four thousand babies owe their start in life to Repromed's clinical fertility treatments, which have been consistently ranked among the best in the world. The unit introduced Australia's first artificial insemination program; using frozen sperm from the first sperm bank in the country, which Repromed established in 1971.
Repromed was also the first South Australian unit to achieve IVF pregnancies. It was as the first Australian unit to develop blood hormonal assessments for tracking an IVF cycle, as well as mobile incubators for fertilised eggs, cells and embryos. The list of notable achievements fills a page.
"The desire to have your own children is a basic human aspiration which does not discriminate for age, gender, race, social or financial status," said Professor Rob Norman, Head of the unit. "Some couples are shattered when they discover that they can't have children naturally," he said, "but medicine now offers hope to most who are faced with infertility."
The unit's list of 'firsts' includes many technical innovations, but for patients, especially those rendered vulnerable by failure to have a child, an emphasis on technique and procedure can sometimes come at the cost of sensitive treatment. Patients' emotional needs can be overlooked in the quest to deal with their physiological problems.
Repromed's latest award shows that it is well ahead in that field, too. The unit has just become the first company in the world to receive new certification devised by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).
The accreditation award (ISO 9001:2000) recognises the commitment of management in developing, maintaining and improving the quality of customer service, monitoring client feedback and responding to it. It acknowledges the unit's expertise with a management system widely used in business, but rarely seen in medicine.
"Our system ensures that all staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities, and how they should perform them," said Ms Sue Opie, Quality Manager. "The system checks that this is happening through regular audits, and if improvements opportunities or problems are raised, then something is done about it," she said.
"After an appropriate time we go back to see if changes we put in place are working," said Ms Opie. "If not, we try another option. It has to be flexible, and staff benefit if they are open to trying something new."
Awards mean good publicity and recognition, but in this case the award will help to encourage good practice in other medical units. "Certification is a great asset to our business," said Ms Opie. "Our hope is that other IVF companies and medically based practices will want to gain their own accreditation," she said.
The award will be presented by Mr Ross Wraight, CEO of Standards Australia, on 6th February at Adelaide's Wakefield St Hospital, where Repromed operates one of its clinics.
The presentation ceremony will be followed by a short talk on 'Quality and Consumer Expectations' from Ms Sandra Dill, the Executive Director of ACCESS, a national infertility consumer support organisation. The public are welcome.
Photos available at: /pr/media/photos/2001/
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Mr David Ellis
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The University of Adelaide
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