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21 Barclay Street, Heywood, VIC, 3304

Healthy Outlook at Heywood

Heywood Rural Health’s aim is to be recognised as “the best small rural health service in Victoria” and it has overcome a year like no other to continue on the path to achieve that goal.

The HRH annual meeting on Friday was a reminder of the varied issues it and other local health services have had to tackle this year.

Both chief executive Leigh Parker and Chairman Phil Saunders spoke about the trials and tribulations of 2019-20, starting with the cyber-attack in September 2019, followed by the successful aged care accreditation process and then dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions.

Mr Parker, who was appointed chief executive in August after acting in the role since September 2019 (arriving just before the cyber-attack), put it well.

“It’s difficult to summarise a normal year in a few words let alone this year.” he said.

“It’s been far from normal.”

Among the many initiatives in place, one that stood out was looking after the mental health and wellbeing of staff during the pandemic with “hashtag” days.

Mr Saunders thanked staff, residents, their families and others for the way they have handled the pandemic.

“It’s quite traumatic for everyone… and I think you did a fantastic job,” he said.

“We are making great progress… (our aim is to be) known and recognised by everyone as the best small rural health service in Victoria and we are making progress on that path.”

Mr Parker pointed to several new services HRH had started during the year, including the “extremely popular” podiatry, Erin Gordon joining Samsun Nahar as a GP at the community health centre and activities to bring a smile to the face of aged care residents

And the future would see more, as well as infrastructure projects.

One of those will be refurbishment of the community health hub.

While a preferred tender had been selected in May, work had been delayed due to the pandemic restrictions, but work was expected to start next month, Mr Parker said.

Chief finance and accounting officer Jennie Stinson presented the finance report, which showed HRH had a surplus of about $6000, compared to a budget to break even, the number that is monitored by the state government.

The net result including depreciation and other transactions was a $347,000 deficit, $158,000 better than 2018-19.

Funding from the government made up 79 per cent of revenue while employee costs were 71 per cent of expenses.

With 73 full-time equivalent staff HRH was the largest employer in Heywood, Ms Stinson said.

The guest speakers at the annual meeting were Michael Hoffman (community engagement officer) and Mark Chapman (volunteer community speaker) from Let’s Talk Foundation, a south west initiative that aims to break down the stigma around mental health.

Mr Chapman, who is regional manager for national mental health and disability services provider Wellways, spoke about how he went from a mental breakdown in 2005 which saw him stop work for 10 years to accepting and opening up about his condition and the road back from there to where he is today, managing about 50 staff after starting out with Wellways as a volunteer.

To view the Heywood Rural Health Annual General Meeting 2019-2020, please click on the link below:

Heywood Rural Health Annual General Meeting 2020