President’s Report September 2019

President’s Report September 2019

Central Queensland Rural Health has continued to meet our targets and strive toward our goal of excellence and sustainability in rural health. There are currently 15 projects being undertaken throughout the communities we service. These projects vary in size, term and in what they hope to achieve but they all bring us one step closer to achieving our mission.

Dr John Evans, Zak Nichols, Joyce McSwan (presenter) and Jessica Burry at the Emerald event titled “A Multidisciplinary Approach to Opioid Rationalization in Pain Management.”

One of our long term projects is Workforce Support through Continual Professional Development. Through this project, CQRH is able to provide free professional development to members of our organisation and at minimal cost to other GPs, allied health professionals, nurses and practice staff. Recent workshops include a visit to Emerald from Neurosurgeons from the Brisbane Clinical Neuroscience Centre and a joint session in Biloela with Dr Garcia (Cardiologist) and Dr Vega Vega (Urologist). An essential part of this project is providing the training and support most needed by professionals in the area. If you are a health professional in Biloela, Emerald or surrounds and you are interested in free CPD, please fill out this survey so that we know what topics most interest you.

While our mission is excellence and sustainability in rural health, the core purpose of CQRH is to improve the wellbeing of the communities which we serve. The mental health and resilience of communities as a whole has historically been an overlooked aspect of this mission, however CQRH has put this issue at the forefront though various current projects. One such project is the Wheel of Wellbeing, which has been funded through Centacare. This project uses an evidence-based model to stage activities which boost community wellbeing as whole. Training is also provided to individuals within the community to boost the level of knowledge and engagement in self-care activities and, in turn, improve those individuals’ abilities to educate and care for others. For more information about this project, please click here.

The CQ Suicide Prevention Plan, another project, also places much importance on the role of mental health and wellbeing. The project is based on the LifeSpan model, which has nine core strategies for suicide prevention. One of these strategies is particularly relevant: Equipping primary care to identify and support people in distress. As rural health professionals, we are often at the front line when it comes to mental health and wellbeing and it is vital that our skills are up to date, and that we don’t shy away from the difficult conversations. If you are interested in mental health, please make sure you fill out our survey so that we can source relevant training.  The Black Dog Institute also has a number of resources and programs tailored to health professionals. There are also a number of training sessions specifically focussed on suicide prevention which are relevant both for health professionals and the general public. Many of these training sessions have been made available either through funding from the PHN or through a Tackling Regional Adversity through Integrated Care (TRIAC) grant.

CQRH has also been taking a more direct role in community health by employing local service providers to fill in some of the gaps. We currently employ two midwives who provide antenatal, postnatal and lactation consultations to new mothers in Clermont, Middlemount, Dysart, Moranbah, Glenden, Nebo, Sarina and an outreach clinic is planned for St Lawrence. There is currently a position for a midwife still vacant in the Whitsundays. We also employee or contract seven mental health clinicians in Biloela, Moura, Monto, Biggenden, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Emerald and Springsure to provide much needed support for people with severe and persistent mental illness and underserviced groups. These services are free to the consumer and proving to be much needed across the communities where we operate. Our passion for building a sustainable workforce continues through these projects as the goal is always to build a position which can continue after the term of the grant funding. Speaking of workforce development, I would like to welcome our newest recruit to this program, Bronwyn Anderson, who is beginning as a provisional psychologist in Emerald.

Our subsidiary company, Rural Health Management Services [RHMS], also does its fair share of workforce development. The general role of RHMS is to step in when there is a gap in primary health care services in a community, build a sustainable medical practice, then hand the business over to a permanent, passionate and local GP. We currently manage eight medical centres across eight different communities. Recently, RHMS has been contracted by the Northern Queensland PHN to help support the RACGP accreditation of Primary Care Services in the communities of Hopevale and Badu Island.  This is an exciting opportunity to extend our role beyond management to consulting. This will allow us to support more communities in more contexts.

Together, Central Queensland Rural Health and Rural Health Management Services are continuing to work behind the scenes to develop excellence and sustainability in rural health. I would like to thank the staff of both organisations for their hard work and look forward to watching the communities we work in benefit from their dedication.

Dr John Evans
Central Queensland Rural Health

Scholarship Success Stories

Scholarship Success Stories

The first recipients of the CQRH Scholarship for Rural Health have graduated and we couldn’t be more proud. Kiarne Dippel and Bretany Appel were the winners of the $1500 annual bursary in 2016.

Kiarne with her grandparents, Vicki and Milton Ainsworth

Kiarne is now an Advanced Care Paramedic with the Queensland Ambulance Service and currently stationed at South Rockhampton. She still retains her passion for rural healthcare, in particular, the ability that rural clinicians have to connect with their patients and follow-up on their care. She hopes to be transferred to a rural location someday. In the meantime, she is busy completing her post-graduate program and her Masters, intending to become a Critical Care Paramedic. We have no doubt Kiarne will succeed in her remaining studies.

Bretany is now a Podiatrist at North West Remote Health in Mount Isa, also servicing Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Camooweal, Boulia, Bedourie, Birdsville, Dajarra and Urandangi. She is the only podiatrist in their Mount Isa location and loves the challenge. She believes the biggest barrier to healthcare in rural areas is access and continuity of care. She talked about the high staff turnover in rural areas, with patients often seeing numerous clinicians in a single year. Understandably, this can mean patient cooperation with a service becomes low. She also talked about the difficulties in servicing a large geographical area.

Bretany at her graduation ceremony

“Whilst we try to see patients as often as we can often it’s probably not as often as we would like or the patient needs, as we cannot physically be there, which as a clinician is a hard pill to swallow.” she said

Bretany has the goal of increasing access to patients in rural areas while providing high quality and continuous care. She hopes to do that by opening rural clinics across Central Queensland. It sounds like Bretany hopes to provide excellence and sustainability in rural health. This is a very worthy mission, and we look forward to her success.

Scholarship applications for 2020 will open in January. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and our website for more information.

Making Tracks: Wheel of Wellbeing

Making Tracks: Wheel of Wellbeing

The Wheel of Wellbeing is making tracks in Biloela. Volunteers have been active, engaging with the community at local events including Road to Rumble at the Biloela Skate Park and Biloela Community Markets in the Park for a Mother’s Day Activity. The community created and took away 20 gratitude jars and potted and gave away 15 Desert Rose Plants for Mother’s Day.

The Callide Valley Show was another great opportunity to show the community what it is all about. There were activities for kids as well as adults. Kids learned about health and chilled out by playing with play dough. Adults took some time out while the kids played to remind themselves of what they are grateful for, shared tips on wellbeing and helped others have a pep in their step by giving compliment cards. Overall it was a great experience, and it was really lovely to have so many positive reactions from people.

These events also served as a great way to let the community know about our Wheel of Wellbeing workshops. The most recent workshop was on the 25th of May (pictured on the right). Fourteen attendees learned how to live happier, healthier and flourish by: 

  • Exploring key concepts of positive psychology & how you can use them everyday
  • Learning about the Wheel of Wellbeing framework (WoW for short)
  • Discovering the simple everyday things you can do to help yourself flourish
  • Trying out some practical tools aimed at helping you be happier & healthier
  • Experimenting by sharing ideas and learning with others

The next workshop will be DIY Happiness Training delivered at the Biloela Civic Centre on the 26th, 27th of July and the 2nd and 3rd of August. The DIY Happiness training is a four day program (delivered over 2 blocks) designed by Maudsley International and supported by the Queensland Mental Health Commission. It gives participants an understanding of the concepts underpinning good mental health and wellbeing, a grounding in the WoW framework, and introduces simple tools that can be used to help people improve mental health and wellbeing.

This training is open to all Banana Shire Residents.

DIY Happiness offers the opportunity for participants to progress through verification to become a Well-being Practitioner. A practitioner can then deliver their own one day workshops.

What you will learn about through the program:

  • The science of good mental health – the importance of good social connections, coping with stress and more
  • Wheel of Wellbeing – the six universal themes that contribute to good mental health
  • Places WoW is being used – from inner city to rural and remote success stories
  • Practical tools – the everyday practices that lead to improved wellbeing
  • Experimenting for yourself – by sharing ideas and learning from others
  • Bringing WoW to your community – how you can apply WoW for yourself, your community or in your workplace

For more information on the workshop click here. To register click here. Registrations close soon

Neuros flying visit to talk all things brainy

Neuros flying visit to talk all things brainy

Fourteen medical practitioners attended the June CPD event in Emerald to keep up to date on cervical or lumbar radiculopathy and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Dr Jason McMillen, Dr Martin Wood and Dr Jason Papacostas (pictured above), from Brisbane Clinical Neuroscience flew into town to deliver an information filled “A patient with a cervical or lumbar radiculopathy & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” workshop.

The feedback on this training was overwhelmingly positive, with practitioners vowing to increase the use of diagnostic tools, provide patients with better information, implement additional conservative management and make use of their newfound knowledge to give their patients high quality care.

In addition there were comments focussed on the excellent opportunity to refresh & update knowledge whilst working in rural areas.

If you missed out on the Emerald event and are anywhere near Biloela on  Saturday 10th of August go along and hear from Dr Jason Papacostas and Dr Martin Wood who will be  delivering the workshop from 9.30am -12pm.

The learning outcomes for the workshop are listed below

  1. Understand the basics of spinal anatomy and radicular syndromes.
  2. Understand the clinical and radiological assessment – key indicators, confounders and ‘red flags’ of spinal anatomy and radicular syndromes.
  3. Identify treatment pathways, both surgical and non-operative, of spinal anatomy and radicular syndromes.
  4. Understand symptoms, differentials and investigations of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  5. Identify the treatment options available for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

To register for this workshop, click here.

Dinner and a Chat: Emerald Student Networking Event

Dinner and a Chat: Emerald Student Networking Event

On the 8th of May 2019, CQRH in conjunction with Emerald Plaza Pharmacy organised a student networking dinner in Emerald. We had 15 people attend – 6 students (5 medical students and 1 pharmacy student, coming from different universities), along with CQRH Board Members & Staff and other pharmacy staff.

This dinner was a great opportunity for the students on placement in Emerald to network, discuss rural placements and share their experiences. All the students had wonderful things to say about Emerald. This dinner also gave us the opportunity to speak to the students that are currently staying at the houses that CQRH manage in Emerald.

On behalf of CQRH we would like to thank Jess Burrey and Emerald Plaza Pharmacy for the sponsorship of the dinner. We appreciate your support!!

President’s Report April 2019

President’s Report April 2019

As I am writing this report, I am pleased to reflect on the progress our organisation has made over the first few months of 2019.

The CQ Suicide Prevention Program is moving forward, with community plans now at the implantation stage. As a separately financed sub-project, CQRH was able to secure funding from the Tackling Regional Adversity through Integrated Care program (TRAIC) to enable and enhance community wellbeing in the Banana Shire. The outcome of this was the training of fourteen Banana Shire residents to deliver CALM Suicide Prevention workshops. These trainers have committed to delivering suicide prevention training to the community. The first of these workshops took place on April 7th in Biloela. CQRH is now looking to train members of the Livingstone community to deliver training within that region. We have also been approved as a Suicide Prevention Training Provider by the PHN.

The Central Highlands Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and their community have managed to secure funding from the federal Government for a ‘Headspace Centre’ in Emerald. A ‘Headspace Centre’ will be an invaluable resource for the community, providing early intervention for 12 to 25year-old’s in four key areas – mental health, physical health, social and vocational support, and alcohol and other drug use. The passionate and successful campaign was certainly a credit to the community.

As part of our continuing support for community wellbeing, CQ Rural Health has been employing mental health clinicians to support people with severe and persistent mental illness for some time now. Earlier this year, one of our mental health clinicians, Gillian Hickey, resigned. Fortunately we were able to secure the services of a Mental Health Social Worker in Biloela and a Mental Health Social Worker in Rockhampton, both providing essential services to their towns and surrounding communities. This community project is now fully staffed; however we are still recruiting for a mental health clinician for Gladstone. We are also hoping to recruit a community midwife to the Whitsunday area.

RHMS has secured a contract for a community nurse in Rolleston for 6 hours per week, from the PHN, via the ‘Live Better’ program. This will provide an ongoing economic basis for services in Rolleston.

The Baralaba GP practice gained a second doctor in March. Dr Keshminder Singh is an experienced hospital doctor of 8 years and is training for GP via the ACRRM pathway. He is most welcome and will allow a more comprehensive service generally and regular outreach services to Wowan.

Flinders Medical centre in Cloncurry. Pictures from during the renovation are on the left, pictures taken after the renovation are on the right.

The renovations to Flinders Medical Centre in Cloncurry are now complete. This will allow the practice to increase Allied Health Services, procedural GPs and accommodate an Intern rotation. Our sincerest thanks to Glencore and the Ernest Henry Mine.

The disastrous floods which devastated parts of northern Queensland put stress on medical services in Julia Creek. Our doctors and staff stepped up to the mark. Whilst GP numbers where down due to the impassability of roads, psychological and counselling services were in demand. CQRH assisted two social workers, Szilvia Virag and Alice Hodges, to relocate temporarily to Julia Creek for the emergency and the aftermath of the floods. The volunteer social workers were from Victoria and New South Wales. All team members went above and beyond, coping admirably.

CQRH is delighted to announce the Rural Health Scholarships for 2019:

  • Alexander Belonogoff (Medicine)
  • Jacob Firth (Biomedical Science)
  • Samuel Romagnolo (Medicine)
  • Imogen Storey (Exercise Physiology)
  • Jane Surman (Physiotherapy)

We wish them all the very best in their studies and rural practice.

Finally, TOPICs, your portal to all things CQRH and RHMS is going online and we are administering a TOPICs blog. To find our blog, visit our website at There are a number of new sections on the blog, including a place where you can contact us. Please participate and tell us all things good & bad about CQRH and its subsidiary RHMS, and how we can improve our representation and services.

Continuing in our pursuit of excellence and sustainability in rural health.

John Evans
President CQRH