Originally written by WAYNE DREW
HAMILTON district’s health service has won Victoria’s top regional award for healthcare.
The Premier’s award for regional health service of the year at the Victorian Public Healthcare Awards in Melbourne on Thursday night.
The award pays tribute to Western District Health Service’s innovative program keeping aged care patients in touch with their families by video-link, as well as a number of other creative projects.
These including a program that keeps the health of rural farming families in check and a linen program that has slashed annual water use by more than three million litres, and its youth program 10MMM.
Premier John Brumby said the win by WDHS was well deserved.
“Staff at the Western District Health Service have worked hard to develop a range of innovative programs that not only improve the comfort of their patients, but also keep them in touch with their loved ones, which can help them recover more effectively,” Mr Brumby said.
With more than 500 staff at its campuses – including Hamilton Base Hospital, Penshurst and District Health Service and Coleraine District Health Service – WDHS is the sole provider of public health care facilities in the Southern Grampians Shire and is home to some of the most remote communities in Victoria.
Mr Brumby said the Virtual Visiting program reconnected residents with their families and friends with the use of videoconferencing technology with the help of trained volunteers.
“Video conferencing combines the use of computer, video camera and internet to transmit live conferences between patients and other people outside their aged care facility,” he said.
“Within a matter of minutes residents can see and speak to their friends and loved ones who may be hundreds of kilometres away in remote Victorian communities.”
WDHS chief executive, Jim Fletcher, was ecstatic.
“It’s an outstanding achievement and reward for many years of hard work by the board, the staff and the community of Southern Grampians Shire,” he said.
“It’s something everyone should be proud of and it demonstrates great initiative and quality of services by WDHS.
“I’m very proud of our organisation and its achievements, it’s outstanding recognition.”
As well as the virtual visiting program, other WDHS innovations include:
• . Sustainable Farm Families – a program helping over 500 rural farming families with mental and physical health support including coping with stress and depression, farm safety, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, women and men’s health and exercise.
• • Laundry Water Recycling Project – which recycles more than three million litres of water from the health service’s linen department to cope with the drought.
• • 10MMM Youth Project – which provides young people in 10 rural communities with multimedia opportunities and workshops for young people to overcome rural isolation.
Health Minister, Daniel Andrews, said WDHS was one of Victoria’s leading regional health services, providing support to the communities of the Southern Grampians region.
Shepparton’s Goulburn Valley Health was highly commended in the category.