St Vincent’s Everyday Hero – Dr Ivon Burns

Ivon has given tirelessly many decades of care to Oncology patients of St Vincent’s.  Ivon’s first clinical appointment at St Vincent’s  was in 1971 as a Clinical Assistant in the Haematology Clinic. 

He established the Oncology Department in 1977 and was the inaugural Director of the department until 2007.  He retired in 2012, but still holds an Honorary Appointment as an Oncologist at St Vincent’s.

Ivon always regarded providing the best possible care of Oncology patients above everything else in the Department.  If any clinician was ever going to crawl over broken glass to achieve a better outcome for their patients, then Ivon would be that doctor. 

He is a quiet, avid and empathetic listener, has an excellent bedside manner, and has a phenomenal memory for recalling medical and obscure facts about patients that he had seen years earlier. 

This might be where they lived, or what footy team they barracked for.  If any staff ever needed to recall the name of a patient that presented in an unusual way, or had a very rare tumour, Ivon was always the person that you went to – and he could usually recall the name with very little prompting.

He fostered a team approach to the care of Oncology patients well before the term multi-disciplinary care was coined.  The Oncology Department had a dedicated social worker involved in the care of patients from a very early stage. 

He wanted patients to have their scans, be seen by doctors, and receive their chemotherapy treatment all in the same day, thus reducing their anxiety.

He has been a mentor to generations of Oncologists, he also supported other health professionals such as nurses and social workers to pursue higher degrees and attend conferences. 

In the mid 1980s with Dr Snyder they initiated and ran a satellite oncology service in Shepparton for many, many years.  Even when local Oncologists commenced in Shepparton a few years ago, Ivon continued to attend Shepparton and give them guidance.

Dr Burns lives the values of this hospital through his dedicated care of cancer patients.

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