Meet the brand new health leadership team in Ipswich
A NEW team of health leaders have walked onto the scene in Ipswich as part of a major organisational shake-up.
Ipswich and the West Moreton region is facing an unprecedented situation which, before the arrival of Dr Kerrie Freeman to the role of Chief Executive of West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, had all the hallmarks of a looming crisis.
Ipswich Hospital bed numbers are below the state average, at 1.64 beds per 1000 people compared to the state average of 2.1 per 1000 people, and in April was experiencing shortages.
Within the region there are a high number of patients with cardiovascular and chronic disease, and high obesity rates.
In April, the QT revealed the new Chief Dr Freeman was spear heading a long-awaited organisational restructure of the organisation wielding a $257 million budget.
That included bringing in new director positions and deleting an entire layer of management, a change in medical reporting lines and the creation of a new position for a dedicated director of rural health.
The shake-up is cost neutral.
The position of Executive Director, Rural and Community has been filled by Melinda Parcell.
She grew up in the Fassifern Valley on a dairy farm and understands first-hand the challenges rural people can face accessing health services.
Ms Parcell, a registered nurse and midwife, served on the West Moreton Hospital and Health board for five years but has stepped down from that role to avoid any conflicts of interest and focus on her new job.
Today she lives in Harrisville.
“I really love West Moreton,” she said.
“And the thing I like about living and working in West Moreton and seeing the people I work with often.
“We have a real opportunity to look after family, friends and neighbours and that’s what I intend to do.”
Ms Parcell said health itself was rapidly changing and rural areas needed to keep up because making the most of technology, such as telehealth (consultations with specialist held via video link), ultimately means more convenient care and less travel.
When asked whether a new hospital was being planned for the booming Plainland area, Ms Parcell said it was an area of growth and that was being considered as part of the service’s master planning.
Dr Freeman said the appointment of Ms Parcell, a long-serving West Moreton staff member, to the new role of Executive Director Rural and Communities recognised the need for greater investment in and use of the rural hospitals at Boonah, Laidley, Gatton and Esk, as well as the service’s community facilities.
“The community and rural sites function so people do not have to come to a major hospital like Ipswich and provide access to quality care options closer to home,” Dr Freeman said.
“As the population increases, it will become increasingly critical to spread services across the whole region. Every decision we have made over the past months regarding recruitment, as well as the finalisation of West Moreton’s strategic plan, has emphasised our commitment to provide person-centred care through collaboration and innovation. It is an exciting time to be a part of West Moreton Hospital and Health Service and I look forward to working with our four newest additions to achieve the quality of care we aspire to deliver for each and every person.’’
As the population increases, services will become increasingly critical to spread across the whole region.
— Dr Kerrie Freeman
STEPPING UP: Big challenges await the leadership team in charge of Ipswich Hospital. (inset) Chief Executie Kerrie Freeman.