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Rural Health examples
Yeoval Multi-Purpose Centre
Yeoval is a rural town located in central western NSW, midway between Orange and Dubbo. It has a population of 450 and a surrounding district of 1,500. When the Yeoval Public Hospital was closed in 1988 a vital facility disappeared. The local community, however, was not prepared to lose its hospital without a fight. The community held a public meeting and a decision was reached to form a community co-operative. The co-operative's aim was to formulate a plan to address the local community's health needs and raise the necessary funds to make the plan a reality.
To provide residents with an all-round health centre, especially for the frail, older people in the community. To facilitate access to all possible levels of health care for all members of the community.
What the Program does
The Yeoval co-operative refurbished the old hospital premises and established the first Multi-Purpose Health Centre in NSW in July 1989. The Centre not only provides the community with a seven-bed hospital, including an Accident Assessment Room, but also incorporates a nursing home, a special care unit for residents with dementia, a self-care hostel and a day centre. An outreach service including community nursing and Meals-on-Wheels is also available for out of town clients.
In addition the Centre provides a host of general health services including physiotherapy, optometry, X-ray services, audiometry, dietary, podiatry and an Early Childhood and Community Nursing service.
An ambulance, maintained by the New South Wales Ambulance Service is stationed at the Centre and operated by Honorary Ambulance Officers who have been specially trained for these positions.
All staff at the Centre are multi-skilled and continue to update their skills, ensuring that a comprehensive approach to health and aged care is maintained and that nursing home and hostel residents, as well as people living in the local community, have access to services that meet their needs.
What makes it successful
Community spirit working to achieve a common goal, a sense of achievement, pride of ownership, motivation and incentive to cater for local needs all contribute to the success of the Centre. Also, knowing community needs because the community is the owner plays an important role in the Centre's success.
The Centre's Auxiliary continues to raise funds to purchase improved equipment. One very innovative fund raising scheme involved the agistment of cattle. Col Francis, Yeoval's Chief Executive Officer, explains the scheme.
The Hospital bought the young cattle at the saleyards and distributed them to farmers who are shareholders. One or two young steers to each property. The farmer would look after the steers for approximately 12 months free of charge and then they would be sent to market and the Hospital would benefit from the profit. We made an average of $10,000 a year from this project with very little cost to us.
To attest to the Centre's commitment to providing a quality service to the community, in November 2000 the Yeoval Multi-Purpose Health Centre won an Award for Excellence in Staff Training and Development. The award was presented by the Hon. Senator Bronywn Bishop.
Bringing together federal and state government funding bodies and their different specific interests was the most challenging task in the early days. But since the introduction of the Commonwealth's Multi-Purpose Service Programs in 1992 this is no longer a problem for others wanting to set up a similar service.
Accreditation was also difficult. The Centre requiring two forms of accreditation, one for the Hospital and one for its Aged Care facility. This created an enormous amount of paper work. The Centre has recently acquired three year accreditation which covers both facilities.
Image: Dr Colin Lachlan - General Practitioner, Col Francis - CEO, John Burke - Treasurer of Yeoval Multi-Purpose Centre
In 1988-89 approximately $100,000 was raised through a number of local charities and from establishing a Co-operative with 250 shareholders initially. The Co-operative also successfully lobbied the federal government, which promised more than $300,000 under its Aged and Community Care Program.
Yeoval Multi-Purpose Health Centre continues to operate as a Co-operative, community membership providing principal source of revenue. Fund-raising activities are also another vital source of funds. Hospital fees and charges for other health care services apply also.
Commonwealth funding is also received recurrently under the Health and Aged Care Program as well as from the Multi-Purpose Centre Program. (The Multi-Purpose Centre Program is different from the Multi-Purpose Service Program (MPSP). All Multi-Purpose Health Centres established from 1992 onwards receive MPSP funding. Visit the Commonwealth Department of Health website (www.health.gov.au) to find out more about these two Programs.)