One CEO moves on and a clinic is saved from the brink

7 minute read

It’s been a busy week in PHN-land.

Western Victoria PHN is on the hunt for a new CEO following the recent resignation of incumbent Rowena Clift.

Ms Clift has been in the role since June 2020 following a long career in the Victorian health environment, including as acting CEO of Ballan District Health and Care, as an executive director with Ballarat Health Services and board director of Western District Health Service.

She is returning to the WDHS in February of 2024 where she will fill the dual role of CEO of both the service and of Casterton Memorial Hospital.

“I am really proud of what we’ve all achieved at WVPHN,” said Ms Clift in her farewell.

“It has been an incredible privilege to be an advocate for the people of western Victoria, the place that I live and love.

“As an organisation we work and collaborate with so many different organisations in our region and across Australia, and it’s been a delight to meet and share ideas with so many people who are so expert and passionate about health care and their communities. 

“One of the things I am most proud of has been the opportunity to lead and represent the most amazing group of staff – they are intelligent, innovative and passionate about the health and well-being of their communities.”

WVPHN covers an enormous area, from Portarlington on the western shores of Port Philip Bay to the South Australian border, and from the southern coast of the state to Warracknabeal and Patchewollock in the northwest.

The PHN’s last needs assessment found that availability of transport was a key determinant of access to healthcare, so it was no surprise to find Ms Clift recently attending the official launch of the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s new community transport program in St Arnaud and Warracknabeal – two of 10 sites across rural Victoria that are home to the program.

WVPHN’s 2024 needs assessment is now open for feedback about where they should spend their funding, last year worth $58 million.

Urgent quarantine notice

All PHNs are advising their primary care providers to heed the latest quarantine notice from the TGA about the urgent removal from use of certain InterPharma sodium chloride ampoules because of possible contamination with the potentially dangerous pathogen, Ralstonia pickettii.

The quarantine order covers: 

  • Sodium chloride 0.9% 30ml ampoules, Item Number INTRPH-AIN001 CH2 Product Code: 2457101 Symbion Product Code: 654299 Batches: 2386043E; 2386048E; 2386051E; 2286030E;
  • Sodium chloride 0.9% 10ml ampoules, Item Number INTRPH-DMO200 CH2 Product Code: 2048147 Symbion Product Code: 107557 Batches: 2304400; 2301530; 2301531; 2207874; and
  • ARTGs: 235989, 370471 and 370408.

InterPharma is contacting its customers to warn them. However, primary care providers are advised not to wait for that contact, to remove these products from use immediately and quarantine them until further notice.

The urgent quarantine notice is available to download here.

Country to Coast PHN

Struggling Rockhampton general practice Mandalay Medical Centre has been saved from imminent closure by health services provider ForHealth which has bought the practice.

Mandalay was due to close up shop on Friday, but some hard work from Country to Coast PHN, the DoHAC and Queensland Health brought ForHealth on board.

“I can understand that the Rockhampton community would have been concerned to hear last month that Mandalay Medical Centre intended to close from 1 December,” said C2C’s CEO Julie Sturgess.

“Following the announcement of the pending closure, however, Country to Coast staff worked closely with Mandalay Medical Centre management to allay community concerns, including answering phone enquiries from Mandalay patients, providing employee assistance program support to Mandalay team members, and working with Health Workforce Queensland on a workforce management plan.

“Due to the strong partnership and swift response from Country to Coast QLD; the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Aged Care; Queensland Minister for Health, the Honourable Shannon Fentiman MP; Member for Keppel and Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure, Brittany Lauga MP; and Queensland Health, I’m delighted to say that Mandalay Medical Centre will continue to operate under new management,” Ms Sturgess said.  

ForHealth CEO Andrew Cohen welcomed Mandalay Medical Centre and the Rockhampton community to ForHealth’s existing network of more than 80 medical centres across Australia.

“ForHealth passionately believes every Australian has the right to high-quality, accessible healthcare, wherever they are, and no matter their financial circumstances,” he said.

“ForHealth is committed to retaining and building the existing Mandalay Medical Centre workforce, continuing to bulk bill and expanding health services provided to the Rockhampton community.”

Saline product removed from Queensland hospitals

PHN exposes diabetes threat of closing practices

Hunter New England and Central Coast PHN

HNECC PHN has collaborated with the Central Coast LHD, headspace and creative agency Lead by Story, to launch the Your Road Starts Here digital platform.

Aimed at youth leaving high school (at any age/level), the platform incorporates resources, videos and advice to assist young people to navigate life after school.

Through a co-design process with mental health clinicians and local young people, the comprehensive digital platform has been developed to assist young people to manage life and expectations and build resilience.

The platform is arranged into six key categories relevant to navigating life after school with topics including goals, money, friendships, career, community and support networks. The platform also offers a journal filled with pages where young people can write their thoughts, and tools to assist with planning.

“Research shows that young people finishing school often struggle with their mental health and suicide risk is heightened,” said the PHN’s CEO Richard Nankervis.

“The pressure of the perceived level of expectation from friends and family can be overwhelming, particularly when the young person believes the expectations exceed what they are able to achieve.

“Alongside the Central Coast headspace, the PHN identified a gap in the market for early intervention services for young people and collaboratively, the idea for the platform was born.

“We are very proud of what has been achieved and look forward to expanding the program.”

Northern Territory PHN

NTPHN wants to hear from GPs and primary health staff about hospital referrals and discharges, NT HealthPathways, and collaborations between GPs and hospitals.

The data will help inform Dr Roxane Craig, the PHN’s new GP liaison, to improve communication, collaboration and integration between GPs and Royal Darwin and Palmerston Hospitals.

The survey will run until 30 November, followed by a follow-up survey in six months’ time to monitor progress.   

To take the survey, click here.

Healthy North Coast

To support the health and wellbeing of Northern Rivers young people aged eight to 18 years in the wake of the 2022 floods, Healthy North Coast has launched a new program called Resilient Kids.

Funded through a $10 million grant from the Australian Government through the National Emergency Management Agency, Resilient Kids will support thousands of Northern Rivers youth and at least 75 schools.

HNC co-designed the program with children, young people, schools, families and service providers from across the Northern Rivers.

Resilient Kids will be delivered in three streams:

  • Stream 1: Education and skill building through school-based supports;
  • Stream 2: Community resilience building delivered from local hubs, with outreach to smaller communities; and
  • Stream 3: First Nations children and young people initiatives.

The not-for-profit organisation Social Futures (in partnership with The Family Centre and Human Nature Therapy) will deliver Streams 1 and 2.

Monika Wheeler, Healthy North Coast’s CEO, said to design Resilient Kids, HNC looked at information collected in the Resilience Survey from 6611 children and young people.

“The survey results told us that physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, personal safety and reducing risks, a sense of social identity and engagement with learning were all extremely important to young people,” Ms Wheeler said.

“We are delighted the Resilient Kids program is now commencing and I would like to acknowledge the funding received from the Australian Government’s National Emergency Management Agency.

“Our North Coast communities have been through many challenging experiences in recent years, and we will continue to support and fund a range of services that enable better mental health and wellbeing outcomes for our young people.”

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