Goulburn Valley Health is upgrading its facilities and going out into the community to provide top-notch healthcare for its patients.
Agriculture dominates the economy and way of life in Goulburn Valley—a region known for its wineries, fruit, and dairy. To cater to the unique needs of the rural and growing population, Goulburn Valley Health works tirelessly within the community to create a modern healthcare option that addresses needs from surgery and intensive care to psychiatry service and paediatrics.
The 280-bed acute and extended care facility handles a high number of road accidents, skin cancer diagnoses, farm injuries, and work safety accidents: all common maladies of rural communities. The swelling population the region sees during fruit harvest season brings an estimated 10,000 itinerant workers to the region, increasing the number of snake bites, cuts, falling injuries, and allergic reactions.
Goulburn Valley Health has the healthcare solutions for it all, and maintains a strong relationship with the community to make sure the facility is serving its people the best it can.
“We’re very active in creating opportunities for the community to provide input and feedback to our services,” said CEO Dale Fraser. “On top of this, patient literacy and perspective is important to us, so we actively survey and receive feedback from patients at every touchpoint of their care.”
Fraser has been with Goulburn over two years now and has 20 years industry experience, and a passion for mental and acute health. He, the advisory community board, and the other leadership at Goulburn Valley Health have realised the importance of expanding care and catering to the community, meaning several big changes are afoot with the organisation.
Hospital Expansion – Keeping Up with the Community
“Goulburn Valley is home to a growing aging population and a growing youth population,” said Fraser. “With this overall growth, a proud history of multiculturalism, and a larger than average indigenous and refugee population compared to the rest of Australia, we experience unique complexities in the disease profiles in our patients. We have to embrace innovation and expansion to treat our people’s needs.”
On an infrastructure level, this meant an expansion to Goulburn Valley Health’s emergency room was necessary. The busy department with seemingly endless crowds of people will be better organised because of the new expansion, which is, in part, thanks to the generous community, which donated money for the improvements.
The planned Christmas 2015 opening of the redeveloped emergency department—which includes an efficiently planned waiting room and better zoned care for paediatrics—will create a more effective patient flow, easing headaches for patients and facility staff alike.
“We want to ensure care is coordinated in such a way that a patient, who is often having one of the toughest moments of their life, feels taken care of at every step of the process. Our expansion is key to this,” Fraser shared.
Beyond the Hospital Walls
Expansion outside of Goulburn Valley Health is also a part of the organisation’s strategy. Fraser shared that it is critical that the facility embrace technology in its solutions to healthcare for the community.
With an aging and rural population, limited transport access is one of the major healthcare problems in the region. Fraser and the leadership at Goulburn have addressed this with several solutions, most notably its mobile dental service. The van—which is equipped to provide dental services ranging from teeth cleanings to extractions—school visits, aged care settings, and popular community areas to provide frontline dental care.
“It has eliminated a big barrier to healthcare,” Fraser said. “We’ve taken the concept of boundary-less healthcare to heart,” Fraser said. “We’re now able to deliver healthcare in an environment that is more appropriate and geared to the patient.”
Goulburn hasn’t limited this to dental services—the organisation provides at-home nursing care as well as a large in-home dialysis program. Fraser is looking forward to moving more care into the home—hoping that soon complex chronic care needs can be treated in comfort as well.
“It empowers the patient in his or her own care,” he said. “The traditional brick and mortar hospital will be less brick and mortar and more mobile as remote monitoring and healthcare apps become more widespread and powerful. It’s a trend we absolutely intend to capitalize on.”
This trend toward mobilisation and virtualisation is a major focus of Goulburn Valley Health’s 10-year service plan that was finalised this past June. The four broad goals of the plan—working with local partners, developing its workforce, empowering its patients’ health, and developing more complex services—are all grounded in Goulburn Valley Health’s commitment to addressing the emerging needs of the community.
As a large employer of people in the community, Fraser focused on the importance of its workforce, highlighting that its people will be the keystone to its 10-year plan. Through Goulburn’s CREATE Our Future program, employees are given job enrichment and empowerment tools to align with a common goal: exceptional patient care.
“Skills and experience will land you a job interview here at Goulburn, but how you align with our values will get you the job,” Fraser shared. “We have a good relationship with our partners and a great relationship with the community, but it is our people who set us apart in this competitive industry.”