CEO Primary Matters – 17 June 2020

It is with great pleasure that I return to Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) following a highly constructive year as Acting CEO at Ballan District Health and Care (BDHC).

During the past twelve months, I have worked in a small rural health service which included residential aged care and a GP clinic providing a range of primary care services. This experience has allowed me to witness first hand the complexities of primary care.  I saw the struggle of smaller health services and funding, and the difficulties in recruiting GPs, GP supervision, responding to COVID-19 and transferring to telehealth consultations.

I have been amazed by our residents in aged care, the wisdom they have to offer and the resilience they have shown despite restrictions to visitor access. At the BDHC Opportunity Shop I saw the social determinants of health in action – unemployment, homelessness, and the impacts of family violence and mental illness. The opportunities in this space are endless. I saw the health system introduce changes like telehealth (which we have been talking about for years) overnight. I have also seen the high numbers of chronic disease patients who haven’t attended appointments and the huge health risks they are facing.

Though the pandemic has been frightening to us all at times, it has created new opportunities for the way we deliver care to our communities. Many primary care providers across western Victoria have gone above and beyond to ensure their clients’ health is maintained as best as possible to counteract the viral risks. We showcased how Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital went about this a fortnight ago, but all primary care providers deserve commendation for how they’ve managed the pandemic response.

Returning to WVPHN with this knowledge and experience, I have the utmost confidence that WVPHN will continue to grow to improve the delivery of services to boost primary care provision in our region. I also look forward to working closely and collaborating with all primary health care providers across the region to improve the health of our communities.

I hope to meet as many of you as possible in the near future and discuss how WVPHN can better support the important work you all do.

Voluntary Assisted Dying

WVPHN acknowledges the one year anniversary of the introduction of the Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation into Victoria on Friday 19 June.

The state was the first jurisdiction to introduce this legislation as part of a broader focus on a compassionate approach to palliative care and support for people facing serious and terminal illnesses.

By having access to an assisted dying process, a terminally-ill patient and their medical practitioner can explore advanced care planning and end-of-life options together.  This may include better palliative care options and support, but may also include discussions on assisted dying.

Rowena Clift

Chief Executive Officer