Health team effort

IMPROVED chronic heart and lung disease outcomes will be a key focus of a new regional health program.

The Loddon and Gannawarra Health Hearts and Lung Program will share in almost $3 million that has been allocated by the Federal Government-funded Murray Primary Health Network for chronic heart and lung disease services across central and northern Victoria.

The district program aims to develop and delivers a model of care that blends local community multi-disciplinary health team and telehealth services involving a number of agencies based within the neighbouring Shire of Loddon and Shire of Gannawarra.

Northern District Community Health chief executive officer, Mandy Hutchinson said that the Loddon Gannawarra Health Services Executive Network worked together to present a comprehensive Health Needs Analysis of the region in 2016. 

"We are thrilled the Loddon Gannawarra Health Hearts and Lungs tender has been successful and are keen to develop a model of care that blends local community multi-disciplinary health team and telehealth services for people in our rural communities," she said.

"Having a more skilled workforce who can provide support to our community to improve their lifestyle and well-being will have an impact on the high rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardio-vascular disease.

"A strong connection to GP clinics across the catchment will also form part of the project."

The network comprises Loddon Shire Council, Gannawarra Shire Council, Northern District Community Health, Kerang District Health, Inglewood and District Health Service, Dingee Bush Nursing Centre, Boort District Health Service, Cohuna District Hospital, Bendigo Loddon Primary Care Partnership, Southern Mallee Primary Care Partnership, Murray Primary Health Network, Department of Health and Human Services and Mallee District Aboriginal Services.

Health services in other parts of the region have also received grants to invest in pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation clinics, improve quality of chronic illness care and help develop the primary health workforce.Additionally, Lung Foundation Australia will implement a workforce training and development program with 14 health services across region, integrate treatment plans in general practice and trial a new model of pulmonary exercise programs in central Victoria.

Murray Primary Health Network executive director Penny Wilkinson said the process of collaborative dialogue was aimed at system improvement and the creation of partnerships and networks that will increase capacity across the region.

"Our role is to help strengthen the health system in our region and to work towards equity and best practice models of care in the management of chronic illness," she said.

"We know that respiratory and cardiovascular diseases affect more than 40,000 people in our region. Combined, they cause more than 4000 avoidable hospital admissions each year, and more than 200 avoidable deaths."

Murray PHN will continue to support all health service providers with extensive localised population health information, helping them to target disease hotspots and tailor resources relative to local need.

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