Chris Blake, St Vincent’s CEO
Last week I was in Griffith to attend the St Vincent’s Private Community Hospital Griffith’s Friends for Life lunch – an annual event to thank the hospital’s donors, community partners, and clinicians for their tremendous and ongoing support.
It was also a welcome opportunity to witness the significant transition that’s underway in Australian health care, particularly when it comes to rural and regional communities.
Firstly, there’s the rapid growth of virtual and in-home care, which really came into its own during the pandemic, but is picking up speed as governments, policymakers, and health and aged care providers seek to deliver services to an ageing population in an affordable way.
But then there's the flow-on effect of this move, which is that hospitals are becoming different places. More and more they are operating as ‘health hubs’ and providing a centre from which services are delivered into wider areas.
Rural Australia is at the forefront of this transition, and it was exciting to hear from our team at Griffith how the hospital has already established itself as a regional health hub delivering a range of services in south-western NSW with support from St Vincent’s hospitals in Sydney.
The St Vincent’s Griffith team, in partnership with Murrumbidgee Local Health District, have commenced outreach clinics across the region targeting heart failure – a much-needed service to ensure people have access to diagnosis and treatment options, something that’s often made difficult by long distances and socioeconomic factors. The clinics have run in Hay, West Wyalong, Lake Cargelligo, and Temora, with the team collaborating closely with local GP and Aboriginal Medical Services.
I was especially proud to hear that St Vincent’s Griffith is helping train the first Heart Failure Transitional Nurse Practitioner for the Murrumbidgee region.
This is a model of care we are going to see – reliant on partnerships; with the same clinical excellence as face-to-face care – mirrored in other specialties, and in metropolitan areas, more and more.
It’s never been more important for communities, particularly those in rural Australia, to be in charge of their healthcare destiny. All of us know that the fairness of our health system remains a challenge in regional areas.
It was inspiring to see how, in partnership with St Vincent’s, the Griffith community has embraced that challenge head on.