October 2020 marks the month that Emerald Medical Group officially turns 5 years old and to celebrate we are holding a range of events, workshops, seminars and small giveaways to thank you, our community, for the last five years of being our patients.
To start off, we wanted to write a little bit about our journey, what we are about and how we got here. We figured that the best way to do this would be to ask some questions to the man that was around and involved from the very start; the Chairman of the Central Highlands Healthcare Board, Paul Bell.
- Paul, what was your role in the creation of Emerald Medical Group? Can you explain a little bit about that role and what it involved?
“In 2013 an election promise was made to Emerald and Gladstone communities to establish a GP Superclinic. Gladstone’s option was to grant the funds to a single private practice whereas the Emerald medical fraternity in partnership with the community resolved to do something different. Eighteen months of planning and reviewing options, Central Highlands Healthcare Ltd was formed to be granted the mandate to operate the Superclinic as a social enterprise having no single owner nor shareholders but a company operating the facility on behalf of the community. I was a member of the original Steering Committee and became Chair of the Board in 2015.”
- How long did the building and construction process take? What was it like watching the vision come to life?
“The design and tender process were quite complex and in the end it came down to two local builders vying for the opportunity to construct the Superclinic with the successful tenderer having completed major Federal Government contracts in the past. Site works began in January 2015 with the completion in late September that year. The design always was to have a modular type building on a single slab with each area being connected by internal land bridges. It all sounded good coming from the architect’s mouth but to see it materialise in the built form was not only amazing but also rewarding. Patient flow in the facility was good and a common waiting room and reception added to the simplicity of the overall layout.”
- What have been your favourite moments of being involved with Emerald Medical Group over the past five years?
“The excitement I felt when our first Rural Generalist doctor became a Fellow really hit home the value of the Board’s focus on medical training and supporting young doctors. The construction of the pharmacy onsite had a two-year lead time to gain approval. The approval from the Pharmacy Guild only allowed a six months window to construct and open the new pharmacy and that was a challenge for the Board which we grabbed with both hands. We undertook design, financing, letting of the contract, completion and opening with a couple to weeks to spare. Not bad for a social enterprise organisation! With the recent COVID-19 pandemic challenging public, private health sectors and community alike, planning, preparedness and response has been equally shared between State and Federal Governments and public and private health sectors. For our practice and the Board to respond in partnership with the Australian Government to construct a respiratory clinic was a big tick in the box but then to be the first of these clinics operational in regional Australia was truly amazing. This again is a credit to the medical leadership and CHH Board’s ‘can do’ character.”
Here are a few photos supplied by Paul from the building and construction of Emerald Medical Group:
Over the past five years, Emerald Medical Group has been involved in numerous events within the community. In particular, the past few years have seen a focus on working with local mental health organisations and promoting mental wellbeing in the Central Highlands.
Here are some photos of events that involved our ongoing #BIGRURAL project which aims to bring awareness to and improve the mental wellbeing of young people in our community.
Even the NRL Trophy has paid us a visit!
Reflecting upon the past five years, our Company Secretary Wendy McPhee said that there has “Never been a dull moment” and that it has been “exciting to be part of such a rapid expansion of Health Services” in Emerald. When asked what her highlight has been working for Emerald Medical Group she said: “It would probably have to be the launch of the Better Healthcare Foundation. Rosalie Ham the author of ‘The Dressmaker’ was a guest at the event and she was a fantastic speaker. Everybody was dressed up and it was a great evening.”
So many people have been involved in some capacity with Emerald Medical Group over the past five years, whether that be as patients, staff members or visitors involved with events and projects. We want to thank everybody for their contributions that have enabled us to treat and care for our patients and led us to become who we are today.
We hope to see some of you at our Birthday events that will be held at Emerald Medical Group, LOT 1, Pilot Farm Road, Emerald 4720 between 5th-10th October. Check out our Facebook page for more information on these events!