Gateway Health’s Wodonga GP clinic recognised for excellence
October 4, 2021
Gateway Health’s Wodonga GP clinic has been recognised as Victorian GP Practice of the Year by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
The RACGP awards recognise the value of GPs in our community, celebrating the achievements of exceptional individuals who go above and beyond to care for their patients. The national award winners will be announced on 20 November this year at the RACGP’s annual clinical conference, GP21.
According to RACGP President Dr Karen Price, ‘the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role GPs play in every community’ and Gateway Health ‘has truly gone above and beyond for their patients and contributed to the health of communities in North East Victoria’.
Gateway Health CEO Leigh Rhode said the service was pleased and proud to be awarded Victorian award, and to now be in the running for the national award .
‘This is such a prestigious award and to be recognised by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in this way is a great credit to our GPs, nurses, receptionists and the whole team as they really do go “above and beyond” to make sure our patients get the services they need.’
‘It is wonderful to see one of the VHA’s community health service members leading the way to offer such a broad range of multidisciplinary services to the Wodonga community,’ VHA CEO Tom Symondson said.
‘This award is reflective of a talented team and a huge amount of hard work to ensure the health needs of this community are being met. Congratulations to everyone involved at the Wodonga GP clinic and Gateway Health.’
‘At Gateway Health, we do not want a single member of our tight knit community to be left behind.’
The Wodonga-based clinic offers places for registrars as well as extended skills posts in sexual health and refugee health. Among its service offering, the clinic provides multidisciplinary services supporting vulnerable members of the community, including alcohol and other drug counselling and opioid replacement, specialist family violence services including a men’s behaviourial change program, parenting programs, and disabilty support.
Gateway Health GP Dr Sharon Johnson said the clinic’s staff appreciate being recognised for their hard work.
‘Something we take great pride is making sure we are there for vulnerable patient groups who sadly may be at risk of stigmitisation and require specialised care. We have two specialist sexual health nurses and a refugee nurse and were the first provider of gender-affirming care for gender diverse young people outside of a capital city in Victoria.
‘We are also one of the only providers of medical termination of pregnancy in the region. That is vital because we don’t want women requiring a termination to have to travel to a major city to access these services, particularly when you consider some may not have ready access to a car.’
During the pandemic, the clinic’s broad range of services have become more important than ever.
‘We were successful in receiving grant funding to employ new staff members to assist with health promotion for our refugee patients. This included producing videos in Swahili and Kinyarawanda about COVID-19 infection control and information about vaccinations, to make sure that they understood how to keep themselves and their families safe,’ Dr Johnson said.
‘In addition, we offered a room within the practice for patients to conduct telehealth appointments with GPs and specialists. This was really important for those without the required technology or a safe space at home for a confidential medical conversation.
‘At Gateway Health, we do not want a single member of our tight knit community to be left behind. The strides we have made and the patients at risk of marginalisation we have helped is only the beginning, there is so much more to be done and I am proud to say that I have the colleagues to go even further.’
GPs in Community Health Services project
On 25 June 2021, the VHA and the Department of Health co-hosted an online forum, for over 100 stakeholders, to progress the ‘GPs in Community Health Services’ project, which forms part of the Department of Health’s Community Health Reform 2024 Roadmap.
The GPs in Community Health Services project aims to document and analyse existing GP models in registered and integrated community health services (CHSs), and then identify opportunities and enablers to support sustainable business operation models.
Recognising the diverse size and experience of the state’s community health services in offering GP services, the VHA has continued to seek feedback on the project following the forum. This further engagement has added further to the opportunities that have been included in the ‘Project Summary Paper’, which is anticipated for release by the Department of Health in October 2021.