First Indigenous Health Clinics
11 June 2008
The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health is running its first health clinics on June 11 and 12 in the New South Wales towns of Brewarrina and Bourke.
The clinics transport health and medical specialists to Bourke and Brewarrina, where they fill gaps in local health services and provide specialist care in areas of highest need. Health and medical services are provided free of charge to patients.
Participants in the first clinic are all members of the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University. Specialists include: Professor Bruce Robinson (endocrinology); Associate Professor Bain Shenstone (rheumatology); Associate Professor Len Kritharides (cardiology); Dr Sue Towns (adolescent medicine); Dr Lilon Bandler (primary care) and Dr Alison Harmer (physiotherapy).
Two medical students will also be participating.
General manager of the Greater Western Area Health Service Mitchell Cluster, Stephen Evans, said the initiative is welcomed.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to work closely with the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and with the specialist health service providers from the Centre. The initiatives by the Poche Centre have already been well received by local health service staff,” said Mr Evans.
The Poche Centre was established earlier this year as an initiative to improve the health and life expectancies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is named after businessman and philanthropist Greg Poche, who donated $10 million to the Faculty of Medicine in February this year to fund its initial operations.
“My involvement in this project gives me a great sense of satisfaction,” Mr Poche said. “An enormous amount needs to be done to give our Indigenous people decent health and a reasonable life expectancy.”
Professor Bruce Robinson, the Dean of Medicine and also a specialist endocrinologist, is participating in the first clinic.
“It is a very exciting step,” he said. “Our aim in setting up the Poche Centre was to do something very practical to improve the health of Indigenous people. We felt that increasing health care available in areas where existing services are stretched, was one thing we could do right now.”
“One of the most gratifying aspects of the project has been the support we’ve received from our own alumni and staff, from across the University and from the community. We have had many messages of encouragement and people volunteering to assist,” he said.
Regular clinics will be held in Bourke and Brewarrina in the future. The Poche Centre plans to expand operations to other locations in NSW, particularly to Dubbo and Broken Hill where the University operates its School of Rural Health.
Longer term, it is also looking at developing relationships with a small number of communities or towns in the Northern Territory and possibly northern Queensland.
“I would especially like to thank the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which has agreed to transport our health teams to the rural or remote locations where they are in much need. This support is invaluable in allowing us to plan and operate these clinics,” Professor Robinson said.