Health service reports on successful year

East Grampians Health Service Board Chair Ken Weldin reported at the annual general meeting on another successful year and presented many organisational highlights and significant events.

Mr Weldin said the AGM, held in Willaura this year, is an important date on the Board’s calendar as it gives the Board the chance to publicly thank staff, volunteers, visiting medical officers and the community for their support and efforts over the year.

The AGM reported on the financial year July 2022 to June 2023.

“A key outcome of the last 12 months was the development by the EGHS Board of our Strategic Plan 2023-2027 guided by the Department of Health’s Operational Plan,” Mr Weldin said.

“We feel confident that our priorities align with those of the Department. Our Strategic Plan establishes the direction for the Health Service for the next five years and our major developments, including workforce, service enhancement and capital developments, are predicated on our planning processes.

“Twelve strategic actions have been identified, based on the environmental scan, activity data, forecasts and consultation with our staff and community and the wider health services sector. In the day-to-day management of our health service, we work together with our internal and external communities to provide person-centred safe, quality health care that enhances the healthcare experience.”

Mr Weldin acknowledged the work of outgoing Board members Don Cole, Peter Wigg, Nancy Panter, Danni Walker and Fiona Cochrane for their extensive and valuable contributions to the health service and welcomed Megan Shea, Debbie Rybicki and Lisa Davidson to the Board.

EGHS is grateful for the ongoing support received from the regional office of the Department of Health, and acknowledged the team led by Judith Perkins, Manager Health Service Performance – Grampians.

Mr Weldin said highlights included the opening in October 2022 of the state of the art second theatre, enabling the health service to provide more opportunity for care, being appointed preferred provider for Home Care Services in July 2022, following the exit of home care services from Ararat Rural City and the development of a new GP Obstetrics Model.

Mr Weldin paid tribute to GP Obstetricians Dr Michael Connellan, Dr Pieter Pretorius and Dr Chee Sheng Wong, who have delivered thousands of babies, enabling families to have continuity of safe care, low-risk deliveries close to home, and who made the difficult decision to step back from delivering Obstetric services while continuing to provide continuity of care for families in Ararat.

A new GP Obstetric care model was developed and includes the direct employment of GP obstetricians by EGHS, with two currently employed and EGHS seeking to employ a third.

To complement the work of health professionals, there are over 150 volunteers and four auxiliaries that work tirelessly to ensure that residents and consumers can live as full a life as is practicable.

“Our volunteers and auxiliaries provide much needed continuity to the community through day-to-day activities and fundraising,” Mr Weldin said.

Improving aboriginal health and wellbeing is an important issue being addressed by EGHS.

“The Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officers have helped to create a health service that is culturally safe and appropriate for First Nations people.”

Mr Weldin said the aim at East Grampians Health Service, in line with that of the State Government, has been to implement strategies to increase the flow of patient through-put to decrease the number of people waiting for care.

“We have been working with Grampians Health and the Grampians Health Service Partnership (GHSP), that has been tasked with the job of coordinating a number of health services within the Grampians Region,” he said.

“At the start of the year one of our two theatres and Central Sterile Supply Department were undergoing refurbishment but once up and running, we have been able to provide more care as well as undertaking procedures directly off the Grampians Ballarat Health waitlist.”

Mr Weldin said the Graduate Nurse Program continues to be successful and Federation University’s Diploma of Nursing course continues to have strong local appeal with another intake of 24 student nurses commencing at the beginning of the year.

“In 2024 our health service, in partnership with Deakin University, will have 15 first-year Deakin University medicine students training in Ararat. The students will be recruited from Ararat, Stawell, Horsham, Hamilton and Maryborough. This will enable them to study medicine close to their home environment,” he said.

The Board has several high priority issues it will be working on in the future, including the redevelopment of the Willaura campus.

“We are pleased that Willaura entity planning will be funded by the Department of Health to hopefully achieve the Board’s strategic objective of a redeveloped Willaura campus. This will improve the amenities for the residents, families and staff,” he said.

Other priorities include the development of accommodation for staff to live in while working at EGHS and resolving the issue of childcare provision for staff.

Mr Weldin thanked fellow board members, executive, staff, visiting medical officers and volunteers for their contribution to the health service over the past year.