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21 Barclay Street, Heywood, VIC, 3304

A positive year for Heywood Rural Health

THE 2020/21 financial year was challenging for most across the globe with health services at the forefront of the pandemic.

For Heywood Rural Health, it has been no different.

Although the service was not in the thick of the pandemic, it still faced its own unique challenges, like protecting its aged care residents while dealing with the threat of an outbreak in the rural town.

Despite the set-back, chief executive officer Leigh Parker said the service was still moving in an upwards trajectory during its annual general meeting last week.

“The 2020/21 year was bookended by pandemic related activity which consumed a vast amount of financial and human resources as the organisation respond to local, state and interstate conditions, direction and operations,” he said.

“I cannot help but start by focusing on the pandemic.

“First and foremost, I proudly stand here as representative of the entire team – they kept our residents, patients and families safe.

“Early in the year the health service faced one of its biggest challenges in recent memory with the detection of a small cluster of COVID cases in Portland in July last year.

“That ultimately led to a single positive case in Heywood – within 24 hours Heywood Rural health established a pop – up clinic and conducted 74 tests over three days to combat the threat.

“Fortunately, all tests came back negative.”

Mr Parker said the response to the threat was just one of the things he was most proud of over the financial year, another being the team’s willingness to promptly receive a vaccine.

Once vaccines became available, all residents and staff were vaccinated in a timely manner according to Mr Parker, with staff vaccinated well before the Victorian mandate came into place.

Highlights for the service over the 12 months included the deployment of the My Emergency Doctor app, securing funding for a nurse practitioner in – reach model and community campaigns and partnerships.

One of the service’s biggest achievements was the completion of the Moorayt multi-purpose room.

The room was named in partnership with Winda-Mara, recognising both health services’ connection to each other and the Gunditjmara people.

“A lot of the time going into a health facility or institution is difficult for Aboriginal people because of the way things have been for such a long time,”Winda – Mara chief executive officer Jason Kanoa said.

“So to have a space relatable through a language name or named after an elder, like Uncle Wallace (Wallace Alberts), it helps our community engagement.

“I think it’s really important to strengthen the partnership with Heywood Rural Health and keep the conversations going about how we can do things for the better and what we need to do to work together for the future.”

Although other infrastructure projects slated to begin earlier in the year were halted due to restrictions, Mr Parker said it was full steam ahead for the service in 2022.

“We have a lot of activity happening for 2021/22,” he said

“We’ve just kicked off some infrastructure projects that we can complete before Christmas.

“Additionally, we have about $900,000 worth of projects still to deliver.

“It’s an exciting time for Heywood Rural health and we’re looking forward to the future.”