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TAS Country : November 18th 2010
6 Tasmanian Country Friday, November 19, 2010 News HEALTH CENTRAL: From Ouse a team provides health services to an area covering 12.5 per cent of Tasmania. Pictures: RAOUL KOCHANOWSKI TOP TEAM: Tracey Turale, left, and Sandy Carmichael. Health hub outdoes There was a huge public outcry when the Ouse Community Hospital closed, but the new community health centre has certainly won over locals, writes Jennifer Crawley OUSE hospital is gone but its replacement is here to stay. The Central Highlands Community Health Centre is transforming the way health services are delivered in the heart of Tasmania, said nurse manager Sandy Carmichael. The health centre provides health promotion, education and home care right through life. However, she said parts of the community still found it hard to accept the old days of inpatient care and casualty are over. There was an enormous public outcry when the State Government made the decision to close the Ouse hospital. ''The negative emotions are still there and always will be,'' Ms Carmichael said ''We want to get the message across that this is growth for us, we don't simply just look after aged and sub-acute any more.'' The health hub of the Central Highlands caters for about 2400 residents spread out over rough and rugged terrain that covers 12.5 per cent of Tasmania. Many live alone down dusty tracks accessible only by 4WD. Ms Carmichael said some lived in tiny rural pockets, and many were elderly and had lived in the Highlands since they were born and intended to stay there. ''It's really important that we keep our elderly as independent and in the home,'' she said. Health promotions worker Tracey Turale said a lot more people were helped by the health centre. ''I'm really surprised by the number of single elderly men living alone,'' Ms Turale said. The weather is the biggest hurdle when trying to reach residents. ''When the snow comes there are places in the Great Lake that we can't access and the roads can be closed for up to three days,'' Ms Carmichael said. Local networks are used to check on clients, and nurses make phone contact when they can't make outreach visits. ''We make sure that they have firewood and food by one means or another,'' Ms Carmichael said. Health promotions worker Ms Turale said: ''We definitely serve a lot more people.'' It can take 1½ hours for a nurse to reach a client, be with them for an hour and 1½ hours journeying back. There are seven vehicles and a disabled-access bus on the road most days. The use of technology allows nurses to give clients health care that is the first of its kind in Tasmania. Cars are fitted with mobiles loaded with Wi-Fi software. Nurses consult with specialists via the phones, which send and receive data. The Central Highlands is the only place in Tasmania where in-home monitors are used to take vital observations such as blood pressure, pulse, weight and blood-sugar levels. The information is read by GPs based at Bothwell and Ouse. ''It's accurate information,'' Ms Carmichael said. ''Before, when the patient came in to to see the GP their blood pressure might be high because of anxiety. When they are at home it's normal.'' The Central Highlands team readily admits it doesn't have everyone on their books, but it is working on it. Day centres are held at Ouse, Bothwell, Bronte Park and Mienna. ''In 2009 we had six elderly people as clients, now we have 50 who regularly come to the day centre,'' Ms Carmichael said. A physiotherapist visits residents in their homes to do falls assessments and nursing staff have been trained in foot care to free up appointments with the podiatrist. The 20 staff change roles to suit client demands, away from the traditional nurse-patient relationship. ''From a staff perspective we have gone on a journey together,'' Ms Carmichael said Manager of the Central Highlands health centre for the past three years, Ms Carmichael worked in community health on the Tasman Peninsula for 20 years. She lives at New Norfolk. ''I love working in the community,'' Ms Carmichael said. ''I like to provide really good health outcomes to a wide range of people.'' Four independent living units are almost completed at the rear of the health centre. The units have been designed for the elderly, and Ms Carmichael is clearly impressed. ''They are for the frail aged with disability,'' she said. ''They have lovely wide halls.'' Health promotion is high on the agenda for staff, who teach families with young babies and primary schools children how to blow their noses properly, hand hygiene and healthy eating. Hearing and bone-density checks are conducted at the centre. ''Looking into the future, we are setting up a mothers' support group,'' Ms Carmichael said. ''Now that's something we have never been able to do before.''
November 11th 2010
November 25th 2010