The Cunnamulla Primary Health Care Centre is wrapping up its first six months and the management staff and health professionals say they’ve seen a lot of positive change to the community’s health care.
In August last year a new model was started which brought together the Cunnamulla Aboriginal Corporation for Health (CACH) and the Cunnamulla Medical Centre.
For the first time, doctors are wanting to return to work in the town, some Indigenous people are for the first time receiving health checks, and both staff and clients want the best health outcomes for Cunnamulla.
Rebecca Dunn who has been responsible for the integration says doctors are now able to access a patient record database at both medical centres, as well as the hospital, which allows seamless care for patients wherever they are seen.
“More local people are accessing GPs than previously and preventative health drives are being launched, including a skin check clinic day with Dr Philip Bailey who is trained in skin medicine.
“Our doctors are requesting return placements as we’ve marketed the town as a good place to work and it is paying dividends.
“They like our reinvigorated model of care, the lifestyle balance and are enthusiastic about their work within our community which impacts positively on the continuity of patient care,” says Ms Dunn.
Doctors are now shared between CACH, the medical centre and the Hospital which comes under the agreement signed by CACH, and two hospital and health services – the South West Hospital and Health Service (SWHHS) and Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service (DDHHS).
Patients can now attend either clinic, with visiting doctors alternating between both clinics.
“The number of clients with a local postcode has jumped considerably, indicating that many people who had either gone out of the town for treatment or were not seeing a doctor, are now being treated at the clinics,” says Ms Dunn.
“Significantly, there is an increase in chronic illness management and the number of referrals to allied health services.
“Aboriginal health workers are working alongside GPs, and staff and management from both clinics are working together,” she says.
Since the shift in the health service set up, outcomes have improved with a large number of Indigenous people now receiving Medicare 715 health checks.
Early detection, diagnosis and intervention for conditions causing morbidity and early mortality have all improved.
Easy Wing Quality Practice Manager Sonja Street says the attitude towards visiting the doctor has completely changed, and it’s a change for the better.
“Prior to the collaboration, very few patients received these checks, but now we average up to 10 or 12 each week, and there has been a significant escalation in referrals.
“With pathology testing done on consultation, there is an appointment made within five to seven days to get the results whereas previously there was often no follow-up,” she says.
“It’s too early to say that we’ve reduced chronic diseases or changed lifestyles, but patients are now turning up for their appointments, engaging with a GP and being placed on health care programs.
“We’ve also ramped up the use of telehealth so our patients can speak with specialists without travelling nine or 10 hours,” says Ms Street.