For the second time in 18 months, Minister for Health the Hon. Stephen Wade MLC on Tuesday visited local hospitals on Yorke Peninsula for meetings with local medical practitioners and stakeholders and the value of such direct contact cannot be overstated.
Specific topics discussed in detail included staffing at Wallaroo hospital and the current locum model and associated admission procedures for both public and private beds, rural training pathways for medical students, the ongoing issue of the need for extended medical imaging services, the draft Rural Medical Workforce Plan, and the plans for the imminent upgrade of the Yorketown Hospital theatre and recovery suites.
Following meetings with representatives from Kadina Medical Associates, the Northern Yorke Private Hospital and Copper Coast Council, the Minister was pleased to launch a new rural maternity care trial program at Wallaroo Hospital which was clearly welcomed by the gathering of staff and local parents and babies in attendance.
The day also afforded the first opportunity for the Minister to meet with members of the newly formed Yorke and Northern Local Health Network Board which commenced operation in July, the Maitland Hospital the venue for an informal talk with board representatives Julianne Badenoch, Liz Malcolm and John Voumard and Director of Governance and Leadership Support Leanne Stringer.
At Yorketown Hospital, the Minister and I, with Yorke Peninsula Council Mayor Darren Braund, viewed the outdated surgical facilities that are soon to be upgraded and discussed the specific building plans due to go to tender, with contractors to be appointed by October and construction to start in December.
The commitment I made during the election campaign for improved services at Yorketown Hospital was very important to me and the tender process for this major work signals the first step in delivering those improvements.
DON Sharon Godleman and Nurse Unit Manager Simon Taylor guided the tour and reported staff had had input into the final designs, further sharing with the Minister the importance of the works planned that will ensure the hospital can continue to provide vital endoscopy procedures such as colonoscopies.
The Minister also toured the Accident and Emergency department, recognised as the next area in the hospital that requires investment given the significant surges in demand on its resources that is experienced over summer when staff manage an influx of an estimated 50,000 visitors on top of workloads servicing the region’s permanent residents.
The Marshall Liberal Government committed $605,000 to Yorketown Hospital in the 2018-19 State Budget to upgrade the surgical facilities and employ more staff, and to complement this investment further allocated $303,952 in the 2019-20 Budget to seal the Yorketown airstrip to ensure medical retrieval services can operate in all weather conditions.