HOPES that Yarram’s shortage of doctors will soon be addressed were raised at last Tuesday night’s public meeting organised by lobby group Chrisy.
Yarram and District Health Service chief executive Colleen Boag indicated the service was close to signing an agreement to employ another doctor at Yarram Medical Centre, adding to the current arrangement of practice principal Dr Greg Ivanoff, supported by a registrar, occasional locums and visiting specialists.
King St Clinic owner Dr Qubian also indicated he would soon be able to employ another doctor, in addition to his wife Dr Abbas.
The community’s concerns about the town’s shortage of doctors and lack of information about the availability of medical services were raised at Chrisy’s inaugural public meeting on July 30.
In response, YDHS management released architects’ drawings of the new integrated health care centre, construction of which is scheduled for later this year, and has undertaken to be more proactive in communicating with the public.
“We recognised your concern was primarily around communication, and we want to ensure your voice is heard,” Mrs Boag told Tuesday night’s meeting.
She said the health service would be upgrading its website, provide a regular update to the local newspaper and make more frequent use of social media.
YDHS board chair Frankie Maclennan explained the board had been able to secure three new members with specific financial and clinical skills.
She said the board was currently developing its new five year plan and assessing what services the community would need, how the health service would respond to the introduction of the NDIS and was about to engage community consultation through the service’s consumer partnership consultative committee and social media and the local press, with a completion date of the end of November.
Audience members expressed their concerns about the lack of paediatric services and the shortage of respite care services for children with disabilities and special needs.
Dr Qubian outlined his belief a doctor’s primary responsibility was to his patient and to be able to competently do that, without burning out, he was unwilling to be on call 24 hours a day.
Some in the audience questioned why Dr Qubian did not service patients at the hospital, despite his unwillingness to gain, or apply for DHS certification to work there.
It was explained the governance requirements of the health department hospital meant Dr Qubian could not work there without the certification he declined to apply for.
Latrobe Regional Health Service chief executive and former YDHS chief executive Peter Craighead called on the community to support the health services staff and not take out frustrations, about the lack of doctors providing 24 hour service, on the YDHS’ staff.
“You really need a reality check here — you have a wonderful hospital and you have got to get behind it, not bag the shit out of it,” he said.
A number of audience members suggested there was no attempt by Chrisy or themselves to degrade or deride YDHS staff, but a shared concern to improve the provision of health care in the town.
Chrisy convenor Kim Hatton undertook to arrange a follow up meeting in October to address issues raised.