Virtual platform offers close to home care

10 Apr 2024
WHEN unwell, no one wants to be far away from home. 

Now, the Northern Mallee Health Connect project is helping patients from Ouyen and the surrounding areas stay closer to their loved ones, leveraging virtual care platforms to improve healthcare accessibility across the Northern Malice catchment area. 

The Northern Malice Integrated Partnership, a collaboration between Mildura Base Public Hospital, Mallee Track Health and Community Services and Robinvale District Health Services, announced the initiation of the project on Tuesday. 

Ouyen resident Julie Mitchell was the first patient to be admitted through the project using the ground-breaking technology from the comfort of MTCHS, just three minutes up the road from her home. Ms Mitchell described the project as "life-changing."

"Last time I had surgery, I went straight home, and the first two weeks were really quite daunting," she said. "I didn't really know what questions to ask or who to ask, whereas with this service now, it is just absolutely fabulous that I can get in touch with my doctor." 

The project enables seamless patient transfers from MBPH to local health services closer to their homes, dependent on their medical condi­tion. Patients admitted under this scheme will remain under the care of MBPH, with remote management facilitated by the relevant clinical teams at the receiving locations. 

MTHCS registered nurse Caitlin Vine said the technology is very easy to use, and builds on the relationship the outlying health services already have with practitioners based in Mildura. 

"It just means that we can provide better care quicker, more effectively and at home," she said. 
Ms Vine said the project benefits not only patients, but nurses as well, who get to put their skills to good use. 

"It is pretty much real-time, so if our patients' documentation notes or that kind of stuff is on our platform, we can have a discussion with a doctor and make some changes to say a medication chart, and it is straight up on there for us to use, she said. 
"There is no toing and froing or waiting around, we can just give that care right on time." 

MTHCS executive director of nursing Rosey Cattanach was very supportive of the "care closer to home" initiative. "I think what I like most about the program is the after ­hours support," she said. 

"As we know, hospitals don't run nine to five, but the support is supplied by Mildura Base Public Hospital for after hours care seems to have been wonderful, so our nurses feel really supported in the fact that a doctor is at our fingertips when and if we need them." 

Describing the launch as "an incredible milestone day'; MBPH chief executive Terry Welch said the program was something they had been working on for months, and he was excited to see the benefits of it. 

"That's what we want - people home, cared for by the people they live with, go to the footy with, connect with," Mr Welch said. 

"That's what's important to us, because that will help with that social connection of health just as much as the medical healing that needs to happen. 

"We have great confidence that if the Mallee Track team need the support, they hit a button and it is there. "That reassurance is just incredi­ble for the team." 

Mildura Base Public Hospital chief executive Terry Welch, Richard Mitchell, Julie Mitchell, Olivia Cheema, Mallee Track chair Mary Rydberg, Rosey Cattanach and registered nurse Caitlin Vine.