- Written by Staff
The Northern Rivers General Practice Network and GP Speak heartily congratulate long-serving local surgeon and educator Austin Curtin (MBBS, FRACS) on being chosen as Lismore’s Citizen of the Year in the 2015 Australia Day awards.
After being educated in Sydney – a university Blue in Boat, he represented NSW in rowing, nationally and internationally - he trained in surgery there and in Belfast.
He has been in practice as a Surgeon on the North Coast since 1985 when he moved here with his family. He holds surgical appointments to Lismore Base Hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital and Casino Hospitals.
With a strong commitment to community development, Mr Curtin has a deep interest in the opportunities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians achieving equality in health outcomes.
He currently chairs the NSW Ministerial Advisory Committee on Rural Health, and was recently elected to the governing council of Southern Cross University, where he was made a Fellow in 2008 and holds an Associate Professorship.
Austin Curtin has a lifelong interest in trauma care, skills that have proved valuable in his role as a Reservist with the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. He performed Army service in Afghanistan in 2014.
Noted Vietnam veteran, Rev Maj (ret) Graeme Davis in the award’s nomination form, “Most wounded soldiers never get to meet face to face the medical team who ‘patches them up’ in an often unfriendly and remote land (I know because I am one such soldier)… it is up to people who survive to speak on their behalf, and say ‘Thank you for saving my life, thank you for giving them a second chance’.”
- Written by Robin Osborne
The chosen 6 hectare site at Ewingsdale, on the approach road to Byron Bay, is being rapidly transformed into the new Byron Central Hospital (BCH), scheduled to be opened by mid-2016.
The enabling and early works stage has included the completion of internal road base preparation, site in-ground drainage, bulk excavation and cut/fill, and installation of temporary site sheds.
More than 15,000 cubic metres of earthworks have been completed, and over 1,500m of stormwater pipe installed to date.
Taking shape is a new facility to replace the smaller hospitals in Byron Bay and Mullumbimby, estimated to cost $80M. Its aesthetic design incorporates a range of enviro-friendly features.
Services to be offered will include 24-hour emergency attention, with 14 ED acute treatment spaces; 43 overnight inpatient beds; low-risk maternity services, 20-bed, non-acute mental health unit; X-ray, ultrasound, CT, and OPG (dental imaging); 4-chair dental service, 4-chair chemotherapy unit, and ambulatory care services.
There will be expanded ambulatory clinic space for visiting medical services, allied health and community health clinics, plus co-location of community and allied health.
BCH will have over 2,400 power points and 700 data points, and some 102,000m of communications cabling and 95,000m of power cabling.
The construction contractor, Brookfield Multiplex, has a strong commitment to Aboriginal participation in its workforce, and using local contractors wherever possible.
- Written by Robin Osborne
“I am currently travelling the country listening carefully to GPs and patients and taking the opportunity to have frank and fearless discussions about constructive ways to protect Medicare for the long term.”
Seldom, if ever, has a new Health Minister started their incumbency with such a statement, but we live in unusual times, not least because Sussan Ley (“Lee”) hails from a rural electorate and is female. Indeed, she is just the second woman in the Abbott inner cabinet, joining Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
The reshuffle of that cabinet in late December 2014 saw the appointment of Ms Ley as a replacement for the much-criticised Peter Dutton, who kept the portfolio after being shadow minister before the Coalition’s 2013 victory.
Sussan Ley is the federal Member for the rural electorate of Farrar, named after William James Farrer, the father of the Australian wheat industry. Fortunately, as her patch covers 250,000 square kilometres of NSW, her skills include piloting aircraft (along with air traffic controlling, farming and tax accountancy).
The immense challenges of the portfolio, compounded by the contentious nature of health service delivery, was highlighted at the time her appointment was announced, with the AMA slamming the government’s handling of the Medicare funding issue.
Before long the Minister had cut short her holiday and returned to the political fray to announce that the $7.00 GP co-payment proposed in the now-shaky 2013-14 Budget was to be shelved.
By late January she had embarked on a round of ongoing consultations with GPs and their representative groups about “protecting Medicare for the long-term”.
She said no deadline had been placed on this process because the government wished to get a “fully representative view” from all relevant groups.
- Written by Staff
In early 2015 Pathology North will be upgrading its information systems. As a result there will be a new mechanism to distribute electronic reports to general practitioners and specialists.
Pathology North has chosen Healthlink as a secure and robust messaging provider already widely used by North Coast medical practitioners. Once installed Healthlink will receive results from Pathology North's systems for incorporation into the practices' electronic medical records.
As part of the change reports will be distributed in HL7 format rather than the now outdated PIT format. This allows the data to be processed at a low level enabling data manipulation and processing. Tracking biochemical parameters like HbA1c over time can improve patient management. The system also facilitates acknowledgement of the receipt of the report an important issue for pathology laboratories' requirements.
The transition to Healthlink is expected to be seamless for current users. Practices who already have a Healthlink account do not need to make any changes.
The installation of the Healthlink software is simple and is performed by Healthlink technicians through a remote session on the practice's computer systems. Practices using Pathology North that do not have a Healthlink account can expect a call from a Healthlink representative to arrange a convenient time for the software installation.
- Written by Staff
A new CEO has been appointed to head the National Health and Medical Research Council. Distinguished medical researcher Professsor Anne Kelso AO will succeed Professor Warwick Anderson AO in this important role, Health Minister Sussan Ley has announced.
“Professor Kelso’s experience and expertise will be a great asset to Australia’s leading expert body for health and medical research and help Australia build on its reputation as a world leader in medical innovation,” the Minister said.
Professor Kelso’s roles have included Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Influenza, working on surveillance and vaccine policy relating to pandemic viruses, and providing technical advice to health ministers throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
She was also the Director of the CRC for Vaccine Technology from 2000-2006.