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