Discovery Coast Health Professionals Network for Better Care

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IMPACT Community Health Service (ICHS) Discovery Coast hosted its second Health Professionals Network Evening in Agnes Water on Tuesday 23 January 2024, attracting 15 attendees from various health sectors.

The event was an opportunity for health professionals to share their experiences, challenges, and best practices while fostering stronger connections and strengthening the collaboration and coordination of health care services in the region.

ICHS Practice Manager, Pamela Mackie, said, “it’s important for health professionals who often work in isolation in rural environments to have the opportunity to network with other health professionals.”

The event featured presentations by Louise Natusch, Senior Manager Regional Programs (Wide Bay), and Ellen McDermott, Primary Health Coordinator (Wide Bay) from Country to Coast Qld (PHN), who spoke about the rebranding of the PHN and the role of the Integration Team in supporting health providers to deliver quality care to the community.

Prior to the event, Country to Coast Qld representatives toured the newly refurbished ICHS Precinct, where the strategic direction for the precinct and Discovery Coast was discussed.

“IMPACT has strategically prioritised access to health care services in the Discovery Coast undertaking the Discovery Coast Model of Care Project to understand the needs of region and is currently in Stage 2 of the Project developing an Integrated Health Service model with Dr Dani Buchanan joining the IMPACT Community Health Service team,” Mrs Mackie said.

ICHS Discovery Coast offers a range of services such as general practice, community nursing, and allied health, and is committed to improving the health and well-being of the people in the region through innovative and holistic approaches.

IMPACT Community Health Service is committed to improving lives and empowering people through its range of services and programs. To make an appointment or find out more, visit https://ichs.org.au/.

IMPACT Community Health Service’s (ICHS) new GP-led Integrated Health Service is off to a promising start since its launch on Monday, November 13, 2023.

Offering a range of GP, community health and allied health services that respond to the evolving healthcare needs of the growing Discovery Coast region, the service is ready to welcome new patients looking for high-quality and integrated healthcare.

Dr Dani Buchanan, a proud Agnes Water local with extensive experience in rural healthcare and emergency medicine, is thrilled with the progress of the service and the “great team” at ICHS.

“It’s going really well. We have a great clinic here with some very talented staff. The first couple of weeks were a steep learning curve, but we have been really well supported by the community,” he said.

“We’ve seen a mix of holidaymakers and locals, but as time is going on it’s becoming more locals as they come back for further appointments and news gets out there about what we offer. The last few weeks have been busier than I expected we would be. We still have room to grow and capacity to take on more patients.”

“The team is fabulous. We have a good morale and everyone wants to learn and get better. I’m looking forward to the project growing over the next couple of years into something that is really valuable for the community,” he added.

Pamela Mackie, ICHS Practice Manager

ICHS Practice Manager, Pamela Mackie said, “We are delighted with the response from the community and the outcomes we have achieved so far.”

“The convenience and accessibility of having a GP within the community healthcare service is a game-changer. This holistic approach to healthcare integrates GP services with nursing and allied health, providing a one-stop solution for all healthcare needs.  Our community nursing and allied health services are available to support everyone in the community and referrals are accepted from any GP.”

Mrs Mackie also said the interior renovations of ICHS Building 1 were now complete. “The health service now boasts a modern new look and design that enhances the overall patient experience,” she said.

“The feedback so far has been so positive. People are loving the changes and the artwork on the wall is getting so many comments. I’ve been surprised by how many people want to go up and touch it,” said receptionist Veronica Daniel.

Nurse Kirsten James also praised Dr Dani Buchanan for his leadership and mentorship. “With Dr Dani it’s proving to be a really good opportunity to build my experience. He is so knowledgeable and happy to share what he knows. I’m learning every day. I love working with him and the rest of the team here,” she said.

IMPACT Community Health Service is committed to improving lives and empowering people through its range of services and programs. To make an appointment or find out more, visit https://ichs.org.au/

In a proactive move to address prevalent pelvic floor issues affecting women, IMPACT Community Services is set to launch a transformative six-week Diamond Pilates for Pelvic Floor Strength program.

Pilates instructor Kate Rumballe

The program, designed by physiotherapists, aims to empower women through targeted exercises and education, dispelling common misconceptions surrounding pelvic floor health.

For qualified personal trainer and Pilates instructor Kate Rumballe, the motivation behind launching this program at IMPACT came from real conversations with women facing post-childbirth challenges.

“I remember being shocked to learn that the average woman waits 10 years before seeking help for pelvic floor issues, by which time it is much harder to make a difference through exercise alone.”

She believes this is an opportunity to challenge the way society normalises pelvic floor issues.

“Marketing leads us to believe having a leaky bladder is normal. Leaking when you laugh, cough, sneeze, or do high impact activity is NOT normal, and I get very frustrated with how so many people normalise it. The earlier you act, the easier it is to address.”

Commencing in late January, the six-week program will be available to Positive Start Parenting Program participants.

Weekly sessions will progress from lying down to standing exercises, incorporating low-impact movements and small equipment such as balls, blocks, and bands. Inclusivity is a key focus, with exercises suitable for all ages.

Participants will undergo pre-assessments to ensure suitability, and if any concerns arise, referrals will be made to pelvic floor physiotherapists or general practitioners for further assessment.

Beyond physical exercises, the program integrates education and open discussions about women's health, covering topics such as female anatomy, continence, sex, and self-care.

IMPACT’s program will be a women’s only class, to ensure participants feel safe, comfortable and supported throughout their journey.

“Given that many of our participants were young mums and women who have experienced sexual trauma, we decided that it was more appropriate to make this class female only.”

Kate has previously witnessed the positive transformations this course has brought to individuals dealing with mild to moderate continence issues in the past.

“I have some lovely success stories from people who I have taken through this course in the past.” To learn more about this program, call 1800 179 233, or complete the contact form on the IMPACT Community Services website here.

IMPACT Community Health Service (ICHS) is thrilled to announce the launch of its GP-led Integrated Health Service, which will offer a range of GP, community health and allied health services tailored to meet the evolving healthcare needs of the Discovery Coast community. Dr Dani Buchanan has been appointed by IMPACT Community Services as Clinical Lead to the project.

ICHS’s GP led Integrated Health Service has been designed to offer a comprehensive place-based model of health and social care, ensuring that it aligns seamlessly with the unique needs of the growing Discovery Coast region. Complementing the existing array of services provided by ICHS, the Integrated Health Service will serve as a cornerstone in delivering tailored healthcare solutions to the local population now and as it evolves into the future.

The Integrated Health Service will open on Monday 13 November.

Pamela Mackie, ICHS Practice Manager, expressed her enthusiasm for this significant development, stating, "The launch of our GP led Integrated Health Service marks a pivotal moment in our commitment to enhancing healthcare access and quality within the Discovery Coast region. We believe that this integrated approach, led by a dedicated team of professionals, will empower our community to lead healthier, happier lives."

Dr Dani Buchanan, a proud Agnes Water local, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his role as Clinical Lead of ICHS’s Integrated Health Service. Dr. Dani's journey from naturopathy to medicine, combined with his extensive experience in rural healthcare and emergency medicine, makes him an invaluable asset to the community. His passion for general practice, chronic disease management, and emergency care aligns perfectly with ICHS’s mission to provide evolving healthcare solutions for the local community.

Dr Dani said he was looking forward to joining the “great team” at ICHS, stating, "I'm looking forward to the project growing over the next couple of years into something that is really valuable for the community."

The IMPACT Community Health Service is committed to meeting the needs of the Discovery Coast community and providing accessible health care for all.   

We provide a wide range of community health services to our region, including community nursing, allied health (podiatry and diabetes education), exercise programs and mental health services as well as podiatry, nursing and child health in outreach clinics across the Discovery Coast.  

We are continuing to work alongside our consultant, Mark Donato, to assess how we can best meet the needs of our growing community. As part of this, we are currently exploring the possibility of offering a pop-up urgent care walk in clinic in Agnes Water during the Easter school holidays. We will keep you informed of our progress toward making this a reality. 

Urgent care clinics provide care to patients who have an urgent medical (injury/illness) requirement that is not a life-threatening emergency, for example sprains, wounds, sutures, minor breaks and insect or animal bites. This model of care delivery relieves pressure on local GPs and offers another treatment option for Discovery Coast residents and visitors that can help them avoid a 3-hour round trip to the nearest emergency department. Any emergency or life threatening situations such as heart attacks/chest pain, collapse/seizure/stroke, severe abdominal pain, car accidents, head and neck injuries need to be managed by calling 000. 

I'm also pleased to share that in the coming weeks we will be hosting our first Health Professionals Network meeting, which will be a wonderful opportunity to discuss the needs of our region and hear from guest speakers. Many local health practitioners work in isolated practice from their peers, and we believe this is an ideal way in which to introduce individual practitioners into a health practice circle. 

If you are a current or retired medical / health professional who is visiting or living in the Discovery Coast region and you would like to attend, please contact ICHS on 4902 2000. Your input will be highly valued and your contribution to understanding the needs of our region is welcomed. 

If you’re from the Discovery Coast, you’ll know the region is in dire need of additional healthcare. Here at IMPACT Community Services, we’re currently working on a detailed research project to establish what model of health care would best accommodate the needs of the region both now and into the future and we’d love your help.  

If you’re a Discovery Coast local, we want to hear from you. 

Tell us what local health services you think are lacking, how the community could better attract health professionals and what type of services you want to see available locally. 

We want to work together as a community to discover the best possible solution. 

Please take a few minutes to complete our community survey.

Historically, the region has been overlooked when it comes to health care investment.

Even before the pandemic and the mammoth local population increase that came with it, local businesses and services were finding it difficult to keep up with demand. Now, local healthcare services in particular are nearing capacity, with the closest hospitals a 1.5-hour drive away and the two local ambulance staff run off their feet.   

IMPACT Community Health Services (ICHS) is at the heart of healthcare in Agnes Water. Just recently our ICHS Child Health Nurse was called to assist with a home-birth when a local resident went into labour and couldn’t make it to a hospital, due to flooding and weather conditions. Thankfully, together with the paramedics they were able to communicate with the hospital midwife via telehealth and the delivery went smoothly, with both mum and bub doing well. 

As well as nursing services, ICHS also offers a range of allied health programs at our health precinct located at 2 Rafting Ground Road, Agnes Water. In addition, we offer our facility for use by other health providers to deliver their services locally. At present, the precinct is home to a GP and a visiting women’s health clinician, skin specialist, Audiologist and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services which provide community mental health, physiotherapy and breast screening programs.

IMPACT has first-hand insights into how the growth in population has affected the local healthcare sector. We know that health related appointments are increasingly hard to come by, particularly for people who have relocated to the region and are required to register as new patients – with the majority of services offered via our facility unable to take on any more clients as accommodating current ones within a timely manner is already proving difficult. 

These significant challenges are what led IMPACT to undertake this comprehensive research project that ultimately seeks to discover what model of healthcare will best accommodate the fast-growing region.   

The project is currently in the information gathering phase, where we are talking with community, stakeholders and government to inform a future model of care to service our region.

Here at IMPACT Community Services (IMPACT) we are focused on three things: improving lives, creating diverse opportunities and working together. We believe this project is relevant to all three.

We are excited for the future and potential of the Discovery Coast region and are grateful for the community input and support.  

Significant project updates will be provided on this webpage, as well as via our IMPACT Community Health Service Facebook page.

In addition to completing the community survey, please feel free to share any insights into how the significant growth in the population has impacted you and/or your organisation via email to ichs@impact.org.au  or fill in the form below - all contributions will be de-identified and grouped into relevant categories.

Let’s work together to discover what healthcare services our Discovery Coast needs so residents have access to what they need, when they need it. 

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How did you hear about us

With the 2022 influenza season quickly approaching, vaccinating now means greater protection throughout the season.

IMPACT Community Health Service provides flu vaccinations under the National Immunisation Program to eligible people for free.

In this article, IMPACT’s Child Health Nurse and Nurse Immuniser Pip Burton answers some of the key questions around the vaccine.

Are we expecting a bad flu season across the Discovery Coast?

There has been a reduced circulation of the influenza virus throughout the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. This could be related to an increase in hand hygiene and mask wearing, and reduced social contact, along with border restrictions.

However, as Australia opens its international borders and there is greater population movement, influenza may start to re-emerge and circulate widely in the country.

Can I get my Covid-19 and flu vaccination at the same time?

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised the influenza vaccines can be co-administered with COVID-19 vaccines on the same day.

Who is eligible under the National Immunisation Program for a free flu shot?

Influenza vaccines are provided free through the National Immunisation Program to the following people who have an increased risk of complications from influenza:

Who should get the vaccination?

It is important that all eligible groups are vaccinated against influenza.

Those who are medically at risk such as people with cardiac disease, lung disease, immune compromised, chronic illnesses can be at a higher risk of contracting the flu or having severe symptoms.

Queensland Health recommends all individuals aged 6 months and over be vaccinated.

Where can people get the flu shot if they are not eligible under NIP on the Discovery Coast?

With the recent State Government announcement, all Queenslanders will be offered a free flu vaccination as the state faces a severe outbreak of Influenza A.

The vaccines will be available free from GPs and pharmacies from now until the end of June.

We will be offering this service as well by appointment.

When is the best time to get vaccinated?

Vaccinating from April provides protection before the peak season. The best protection from vaccination occurs in the first three to four months following vaccination.

It is important to remember it generally takes from 10 days to two weeks for a vaccine to work.

How do I book at ICHS?

Those who qualify under the National Immunisation Program can phone 4902 2000 to book an appointment.

IMPACT Community Health Service (ICHS) operates out of IMPACT Community Health Precinct, located at 2 Rafting Ground Road Agnes Water. For more information about ICHS and the health support provided, visit here.

The health sector has a range of frontline workers and at IMPACT Community Health Service’s base in the Discovery Coast, one of the first people you’ll see is Veronica Daniel.

The ICHS receptionist is a vital part of the community health team in Agnes Water and the wider region.

Having started her role in March 2020, Veronica said it was an “interesting” time, not only did she have to learn the ins and outs of her role, but how to do so amid a pandemic.

But it was a learning curve she was keen to persevere through.

With a passion for helping and dealing with people, Veronica said she really loves being on the front desk.

“I enjoy helping clients when they come in,” she said

“That would be my favourite thing, I absolutely love being on reception.”

Veronica said they had a nice team at the ICHS, working in a cohesive environment.

“You’re never left drowning, if something happens people are quick to step in and help,” she said.

“It’s a beautiful environment.

“It’s a really nice place to work, we work hard and have fun.”

She said they got a lot of “really nice feedback” from clients expressing their appreciation for the services and the work they we do.

Veronica said it would be great to get even more services available for the community.

The townships and their surrounding areas encompassed by the ICHS are:

• Agnes Water

• Seventeen Seventy

• Baffle Creek / Wartburg

• Rosedale

• Lowmead

• Miriam Vale

• Bororen

• Turkey Beach

Impact Community Health Service (ICHS) operates in the Health Precinct at 2 Rafting Ground Road Agnes Water and from outreach clinics in Baffle Creek and Miriam Vale.

Our Health Precinct provides a range of health services through co-located and visiting health providers, along with Nursing and Allied Health Services provided by ICHS.

The ICHS is open 8.30am-4.30pm weekdays. For more information click here.

The Agnes Water and Discovery Coast region has long been known for its picturesque and laid-back atmosphere but has historically lacked pivotal services to welcome community expansion. 

IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall
IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall

Given the climate created by the COVID-19 pandemic the community is now experiencing significant population growth as people migrate away from hotspot locations, increasing the pressure on existing community services and demanding further resource in the health space. 

IMPACT Community Services’ Discovery Coast Health Precinct has a well-established reputation within the region and is pleased to offer a solution by providing communal office spaces for visiting allied health professionals to operate from. 

One such practitioner that has recently started visiting IMPACT’s Community Health Precinct is Rory Dowdall from Dowdall Optometry Group. 

Rory started his mobile optometry service after the first wave of COVID-19 hit, when subsequent lockdowns left his permanent role at a Brisbane optometry clinic in question. 

He decided to capitalise on the situation and took a chance at paving his own way. 

Over the past 18 months Rory has built up his own equipment and now services 9 locations throughout Queensland. 

After being approached by Checkup Australia he jumped at the opportunity to service the Discovery Coast community. 

“There’s a huge gap in regional services, and Agnes hasn’t had (an optometrist) for over 12 years,” he said. 

Although only contracted for two days a month by the government, Rory has decided to extend his visits to the idyllic coastal town for longer stints given the demand. 

His goal is to be based at IMPACT’s Agnes Water-based Community Health Precinct for 5 days each month to service the ongoing need. 

“Some people I’ve seen have been wearing glasses that are about 10 years old and are falling apart, so I’m glad I can come in, help them out and update their scripts,” he said. 

“I’ve already had a few glaucoma suspects that haven’t been seen for about six or so years, which is pretty scary.  

“At the same time, it’s great that I can come in and provide care for them and make sure they don’t lose visions or have any problems that could have been managed quite easily just because of where they live. 

“We don’t want anyone, just because you live in a regional area, to fall through the cracks.” 

Rory wants to change the way people approach optometry in rural areas. 

The travelling optometrist offers bulk billing for exams and has access to both DVA support and the medical aid subsidy scheme, which provides free glasses for health care card and pension card holders.  

“I just try and make it affordable for everyone,” Rory said. 

“I want to make sure nobody feels like they’re priced out of a service, which unfortunately a lot of the time people feel (is a barrier).” 

Rory said anyone over 65 should be having their eyes checked every year, and people under 65 every two. 

He recommends children should also be checked before starting school and has picked up a number of potential health issues in his patients based on their eye health. 

“I can tell people with high cholesterol, I can pre-diagnose diabetes, I have diagnosed over 50 patients with auto-immune conditions that were unknown to their GPs, so it’s one of those things where a thorough eye check can help not just from an eyes point of view but from a systemic point of view as well,” Rory said. 

If you live in or visit the Discovery Coast region and would like to make an appointment with Rory, phone the IMPACT Community Health Service on 07 4902 2000 or visit the health precinct at 2 Rafting Ground Road, Agnes Water. 

Optometry appointments for the Agnes Water clinic can be made directly online at https://bit.ly/dowdall  

IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall
IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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