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/.

When you walk into the reception area of the newly refurbished IMPACT Community Health Service (ICHS) at Agnes Water, you might feel like you have stepped into a different world. A large wall mural of the Paperbark Forest, a local tourist attraction, greets you with its serene beauty and calming effect. The mural is the work of Kim Cooke, a local photographer and artist.

Kim was approached by ICHS Practice Manager Pamela Mackie to create a feature wall for the reception area as part of a $150,000 major refurbishment project funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care. Ms Mackie wanted something that reflected the local area and surrounding environment. She also wanted a positive and relaxing space for the patients and staff, with staff identifying the beauty of the paperbark forest and Ms Cooke’s photography talents. Kim immediately agreed to the idea of the Paperbark Forest. “The Paperbark Forest images symbolise our environment and what we are about. Giving feeling in my imagery is so important,” she said.

Kim is no stranger to the Paperbark Forest. She has been taking photos there for years, capturing its charm and atmosphere. She said the forest was one of her favourite places to photograph, as well as a popular spot for portraits. “The Paperbark Forest is such an iconic tourist attraction in our town. It is such a beautiful spot and has a special feel to it. You have to experience it to understand,” she said.

Kim selected one of her photos of the forest and enlarged it to fit the wall. She also added some effects to make it look more realistic and immersive. She said she wanted to convey a sense of calmness and well-being through the image, as well as a connection to nature. “For me, the Paperbark Forest symbolises health and wellness. It is part of nature and our landscape, which is calming and makes us feel good. Just walking through the forest is therapeutic,” she said.

The feature wall was installed a few weeks ago, and it has received positive reviews from patients and staff alike. Kim has been overwhelmed by the response. “When I was taking photos the other day, a patient walked in, and her reaction was priceless. She said it made her feel like she was really there and that it made the room so inviting. She said we need to add stepping stones across the floor which then carry on into the image.”

Kim said she was honoured and privileged to have been asked to supply a photographic image of her work as a major feature and talking point in town.

About Kim Cooke

Kim’s passion for photography started when she was a child, and she has been pursuing it ever since. She has a corporate graphic design background, which gives her an edge on being more creative with her images. She also incorporates her art into her photography, creating stunning effects and textures. Her motto is “Photography is my Passion. Creating is my Reward.” Learn more about Kim and her work by visiting her website here.

About IMPACT Community Health Services

ICHS is located at 2 Rafting Ground Road, Agnes Water. 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. Find out more on the website here.

IMPACT Community Health Service (ICHS) is excited to announce that residents can now book their appointments online for the opening of its new GP-led Integrated Health Service on Monday, November 13.

This marks a significant milestone in ICHS’s commitment to providing comprehensive, patient-centred care to the Discovery Coast community.

The Integrated Health Service, led by Clinical Lead Dr Dani Buchanan, offers a range of GP, community health and allied health services tailored to meet the evolving healthcare needs of the region’s community. This 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.

“We believe that this integrated approach, led by a dedicated team of professionals, will empower our community to lead healthier, happier lives,” said Pamela Mackie, ICHS Practice Manager.

The convenience and accessibility of having a GP within the community healthcare service cannot be overstated. This holistic approach to healthcare integrates GP services with nursing and allied health, providing a one-stop solution for all healthcare needs.

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.

Residents can now book their appointments at https://ichs.org.au/.

Dr Dani Buchanan, a proud Agnes Water local with extensive experience in rural healthcare and emergency medicine, is looking forward to getting started with the “great team” at ICHS.

“I’m looking forward to the project growing over the next couple of years into something that is really valuable for the community,” he said.

For more information about IMPACT Community Health Service and its new GP-led Integrated Health Service, please visit https://ichs.org.au/.

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."

Shore Care Family Practice, a well-established healthcare provider in the Discovery Coast region, will relocate within the IMPACT Community Health Precinct as a significant refurbishment project begins this month.

Shore Care’s relocation from Building 1 to Building 2 represents a significant opportunity for growth and the enhancement of healthcare services for the local GP provider. It also marks the commencement of IMPACT Community Services' major refurbishment project, made possible by a $150,000 grant from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care.

Earlier this year, IMPACT Community Services secured a long-term, 10-year lease from Gladstone Regional Council for both buildings within the health precinct, paving the way to explore future service delivery in alignment with community needs.

IMPACT’s Managing Director Tanya O'Shea said the refurbishment project was entering an exciting phase.

“Shore Care's relocation to Building 2 is a positive step forward, signifying a wonderful opportunity for growth and further improvement of healthcare services in the region,” Mrs O'Shea said.

Shore Care Family Practice’s principal doctor Andrew Jackson said IMPACT’s support had been instrumental in helping the practice establishing itself.

“We have always been very grateful to IMPACT accommodating us in our current location, even though it was at the expense of their own space,” Dr Jackson said.

“Their support was instrumental with helping us set up and commence our practice.

“This relocation will not only allow us to return the much-needed space for IMPACT Community Health Service, but it will also support Shore Care Family Practice’s own endeavour to extend the services we provide.

“We certainly look forward to continuing to provide top-quality services to the Discovery Coast and beyond for many years to come.”

Following Shore Care's move, work will begin on the first of three stages of refurbishment on Building 1, with an expected completion by October.

Throughout this period, visitors to IMPACT Community Health Service may experience some changes in the building’s layout to accommodate the refurbishments. However, IMPACT remains dedicated to delivering uninterrupted, high-quality health services to the community.

“We understand that there might be some minor inconveniences during the refurbishment period, and we appreciate the understanding and cooperation of our community,” Mrs O'Shea said.

"These refurbishments will significantly elevate the health service standards on the Discovery Coast. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing accessible and comprehensive healthcare services to the growing population of the Discovery Coast Region."

She said she expected to share exciting updates as IMPACT’s Discovery Coast Model of Care Project progressed.

Gladstone Regional Council Mayor Matt Burnett said he looked forward to enhanced health services that would benefit Discovery Coast residents.

"I am pleased to see the progress being made and eagerly await the improved healthcare services," Mayor Burnett said.


Picture: CHANGING TIMES: Dr Andrew Jackson, of Shore Care Family Practice, and IMPACT Community Health Service Practice Manager Pamela Mackie look forward to improved healthcare services for residents across the Discovery Coast region.

More than 70 people were treated for urgent illnesses and injuries at IMPACT Community Services’ Pop Up Care Clinic in Agnes Water over the Easter Long Weekend.

Over four days, Dr Dani Buchanan and nurses Pamela Mackie and Kristin James treated a wide range of urgent care needs including wounds requiring sutures, respiratory complaints, ear aches, dental issues, possible broken bones, vomiting and shortness of breath.

One patient required transfer to Bundaberg and subsequent transfer to Brisbane for specialist care, with another patient requiring a cardiac review.

IMPACT Community Health Service Practice Manager Pamela Mackie said the Pop Up Care Clinic was a “resounding success” and was overwhelmed by the support from the community and the positive feedback from those treated.

She said the Pop Up Care Clinic was part of a wider initiative to assess and address the medical needs of the Discovery Coast community, and to work towards providing accessible, affordable and appropriate medical care to residents and visitors of the region.

“Our focus is now to analyse the data that we collected during the clinic so we can look for ways to improve access to health care in our region on a more permanent basis,” Ms Mackie said.

“A number of people who attended the clinic indicated that if the clinic had not been available they would have suffered through their condition or simply have done nothing and hoped they got better rather than travel to Bundaberg or Gladstone 1.5 hours drive away.”

A patient receives stitches at the Pop Up Care Clinic

Nurse Kristin James said: “There was a fantastic show of community support and by the number of people who attended it proves the demand for future clinics to be held.”

IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O’Shea said the feedback from those who attended the clinic highlighted the need for such services to continue in the region, as well as the inequalities in access to healthcare between urban communities and their rural counterparts.

“As an organisation, IMPACT Community Services is dedicated to our mission of improving lives, and part of this is providing accessible and appropriate medical care to residents and visitors to the Discovery Coast region,” she said.

Mrs O’Shea added that local residents and visitors to the Discovery Coast expressed an outpouring of gratitude for the care provided by the Pop Up Care Clinic over the long weekend. One anonymous care recipient wrote: “What an answer to prayer for the long-suffering population of this district.” Another added: “Thank you for offering this amazing service. There are limited services in Agnes/1770 and even if you are unwell it’s a two to three week wait to be seen by a doctor. The community really need this added service.”

The Pop Up Care Clinic was made possible by funding from Country to Coast QLD (CCQ) PHN, and was undertaken as part of the wider Discovery Coast Model of Care Project, a major strategic project being funded by IMPACT Community Services to assess how to best meet the medical needs of the growing population in the Discovery Coast region.

The project aims to reduce the demand on emergency resources, support General Practice, expand allied and community health services and to provide residents with appropriate, affordable and accessible primary health care.

A Pop Up Care Clinic will operate in Agnes Water over the long weekend in a bid to reduce pressure on local emergency services and nearby hospital emergency departments.

IMPACT Community Health Service (ICHS) will operate the pop up clinic from their health precinct at Rafting Ground Road, with Dr Dani Buchanan and Nurses Pamela Mackie and Kirstin James, to treat non-life threatening medical emergencies.

ICHS Practice Manager Pamela Mackie said the Pop Up Care Clinic would provide Discovery Coast residents and visitors access to health care services without a 3-hour round trip to Gladstone or Bundaberg over the Easter period, 7 to 10 April inclusive.

“Residents and visitors to our beautiful region will be able to seek treatment for issues such as possible sprains or broken bones, cuts requiring stitches, minor ear or eye problems, burns and scalds and minor illnesses such as fever, infections and rashes,” she said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to provide health care in our community during peak holiday period and public holidays when our GPs are closed.”

Ms Mackie stressed that the Pop Up Care Clinic would not be equipped to provide care for life threatening emergencies, and if life is in danger 000 should always be called without delay.

Those needing medical assistance will be able to drop into the pop up clinic without an appointment, and all services provided will be fully rebateable to Medicare card holders. Patients will be prioritised according to the urgency of their injury or illness. The clinic has been co-designed with input from the Country to Coast  QLD (CCQ) PHN, local GPs, Queensland Ambulance Service, the community and Rotary, who have donated a portable ultrasound for use not only in the pop up clinic but also for locally based practitioners.

Nurse Kirstin James applies a dressing to a patient's leg

Dr Buchanan said that he was pleased to return to the community. “This pop up clinic will provide vital access to urgent care for our community, and whilst this is a one off clinic I am hopeful that we can deliver services such as this in the future.”

The ICHS Pop Up Care Clinic will operate at the IMPACT Community Health Precinct at 2 Rafting Ground Road, Agnes Water between 9am and 5pm.

You can read more about the ICHS Pop Up Care Clinic at https://impact.org.au/ichs-pop-up-urgent-care-clinic/

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

At IMPACT Community Health Service (ICHS) in the Discovery Coast we pride ourselves on being there for the community whenever and however we can – rain, hail or shine.

And the recent deluge has proven no exception.

ICHS Child Health Nurse Pip Burton recently assisted paramedics with a homebirth after a local resident went into labour during a flash flooding event.

Unable to get to Bundaberg or Gladstone or even home from the Queensland Ambulance Station due to road closures, the woman and her family ended up at her surf instructor’s home with paramedics and Pip to support her through the birth of her child.

Having worked in the region for 17 years, Pip said not once had she been called to assist with a homebirth before!

When Pip’s experiences with homebirths went from none to one, she was on a day off, moving house when the call came in from the ICHS practice manager.

Pip said the paramedics were already incredibly busy and wanted her present to support them, and the mother during and after the delivery.

When she arrived at the surf instructor’s house, it turned out that Pip knew or had some connection to nearly everyone in the room which helped ease any nerves.

She said through her work as a child health nurse and learning to surf she had previously met the owner of the home, the soon-to-be mother of two and one of the paramedics.

Pip said from when the baby was crowning to their arrival, “it all happened pretty quickly”, and both the mother and father were super calm throughout the delivery.

Thanks to technology, Pip and the paramedics were able to speak with a midwife via Facetime for the delivery of the placenta and check for blood loss.

Once the weather cleared a helicopter was able to get through and take a healthy mum and bub from the sports and recreation precinct to Gladstone Hospital.

Pip said the baby was born around 1.50pm and the helicopter landed close to 5pm.

Impact Community Health Service (ICHS) operates out of IMPACT Community Health Precinct, located at 2 Rafting Ground Road Agnes Water.

To get in contact with the ICHS team phone 4902 2000.

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.

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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