Centre recognised nationally
THE Mossman Gorge Primary Health Care Centre has been nationally recognised as the rural and remote general practice of the year.
The Centre was was recognised by the Australian General Practice Accreditation Ltd at a gala event in Sydney last Friday night.
Mossman Gorge ass the only community controlled PHCC on Cape York and is run by Apunipima Cape York Health Council and is managed by Sharyll Ellington, who has watched the practice grow.
‘‘My history with indigenous health goes back quite a number of year, it initially started with mum who was one of the first indigenous health workers in Mossman back in the 70s,’’ she said.
‘‘They worked hard with Sister Mary and the service excellent and over the past 17 years the Mossman Gorge community and board members lobbied so hard to have their own doctor present up here.
‘‘The first doctor was a GP who started off working underneath a house in the Gorge and it has grown to become this wonderful clinic which stands today with a regular GP service three days a week and specialist services when needed.’’
Being recognised at the best rural and remote general practice of the year is an honour to Ms Ellington, who prides the practice on working with the community to improve indigenous health and help close the gap.
‘‘We worked so hard when initially establish- ing this clinic and our indigenous workers are the crux of the clinic, we have six health workers who are actually family members from the community, they are Yalanji people,’’ she said.
‘‘The registered nurses involved with the clinic are all local ladies and work very hard for this little service - Sally Roberts, Beryl Kerswell and Andrea Cowe. They are passionate and committed to their role here at Mossman Gorge clinic.
‘‘That is why we are so successful, to have community people in roles is just amazing and we are not run by institutions we are run by the community and the work we do on a daily basis, we need to have permission from the community and we have meetings every six weeks to discuss what’s happening with the clinic.
‘‘As an indigenous manager, to have that community support and standing up, knowing you are speaking on behalf of the community because I have their permission and support is just an overwhelming feeling. It is not you and your staff doing it alone, it’s the community who have the control over the choice of their health.’’
Apunipima Program Manager: Family Health Leeona West said the award was a significant milestone for Apunipima, Mossman Gorge PHCC and most importantly, the people and communities of Cape York.
‘‘AGPAL accreditation demonstrates our ability to provide the highest quality care,’’ she said.
‘‘This award means we are providing the highest quality of care possible in a rural and remote setting. This award is significant as we were competing against mainstream organisations from across Australia.
‘‘To be recognised as the Rural and Remote General Practice of the Year sends a clear message that Aboriginal Health Organisations are providing the best care in the country. The people of Cape York deserve the very best care. This award recognises that our service is providing it.’’
The health picture in Mossman Gorge has changed significantly since Apunipima took over the community’s small Queensland Health clinic in 2009.
‘‘Back then, the clinic had paper records and doctors who visited the community for four hours a week. Anecdotally, health outcomes were poor with high rates of smoking, drinking and chronic disease,’’ Ms West said.
‘‘Apunipima took over the clinic in December 2009, rebuilt it to AGPAL standards by June 2010, introduced electronic records and billing and was accredited by AGPAL in January 2011.
‘‘ We even implemented an Aboriginal patient friendly recall system which was so successful that the Brisbane Aboriginal and Islander Community Health Service copied our system for their clients.’’
CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE: (back row, L - R) Melissa Ryan, Sharyll Ellington, Sally Roberts, (front row, L - R) Julie Salam, Dan Fischer and Beryl Kerswell