Originally written by ANGELA McFEETERS and BILL MELDRUM
THE newly-elected president of the Portland District Health board has foreshadowed the expansion of medical services at the troubled facility.
Greg Andrews said earlier this week the board would pursue other medical professionals to the facility. “A lot of people think we are just a hospital, but it’s far more than that … maternal and child health services to geriatric care and primary health is also a significant part,” he said. “Primary health is an expanding area and we are keen to see it develop further.” Mr Andrews, an environmental health officer at the Glenelg Shire Council and board member since 2002 takes over the pivotal role from Vin Gannon. Mr Gannon remains on the board as junior vice-president. “Having served under the guidance of our previous president, who’s done an excellent job, I’m confident with the skills in the board we can move the organisation forward,” he said. “Over the past 12 months, there has been a lot of anxiety about the accident and emergency department Ñ we hope to build on the Age and succession planning going forward. “There were a lot of plans we had last year we could not comment on or reveal until things we were in progress including the announcement of the nine new doctors. “These things take time to develop and we were under all sorts of pressure in the past 12 months with rumours circulating in the community the hospital was going to close Ñ that was never going to happen.” Mr Andrews also praised the role of medical services director Meindert Van Der Veer, saying he had done an excellent job. There are three new members on the nine-member board. They include Brian Sparrow (Tyrendarra), Mike Noske (Narrawong) and Tanya Simmons (Portland and treasurer). Continuing board members include Jim Harpley (senior vice-president), Vin Gannon (junior vice-president), Bill Collett, Bruce Duvergier and Merle Menzel. Mr Andrews urged the community to utilise the board members. “They are there representing the community and are a real resource Ñ we’ve got some real exciting times coming up,” he said. He said three more vacancies on the board would be advertised next year. “We hope to build on board numbers to draw on the experience of people from the community,” he said. “We have nine members now, and the board can go up to a possible 12 members.” Mr Andrews said it was a community resource. “You don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to be on the board Ñ all the board members are members of the community who have an interest in the service,” he said. Mr Andrews also paid tribute to all the volunteers at the PDH.