Primary Health Care is Everyone’s Business
6th September 2021
A new program is being trialled in the Wentworth Shire to address local needs in primary health care. The Collaborative Care Program is a community-led approach that builds a shared understanding of local needs and available resources.
The program is targeting primary health care, which encompasses general practice, nursing, and allied health. It is a partnership between Far West Local Health District, Western NSW Primary Health Network, NSW Rural Doctors Network, Wentworth Shire Council and many other stakeholders.
Kevin O’Neill is a local health professional who is managing the project in Wentworth. Before he trained as a registered nurse, Kevin worked as a naval officer, a project manager and a police detective. He moved to Mildura with his family in 2012 and has never looked back.
“We have enjoyed living in the country and have passed up chances to move back to the city,” Kevin said. “Kids can walk to school here, and you have the river and the bush.”
He began working in the mental health unit at Mildura Base Hospital. Following this, Kevin worked at Sunraysia Community Health Service as a nurse, then as the manager of mental health drug and alcohol, and finally as the clinical operations manager.
Kevin is now employed by Far West Local Health District and works out of Wentworth District Hospital.
He believes we need a rural health system where all the providers work in close partnership together.
“There is a complex interaction between State and Commonwealth health policy and funding,” Kevin said.
“Then Wentworth has the added complication of the state border. Many services in Mildura are not available to NSW residents due to cross-border funding constraints.”
He admits Collaborative Care will not solve every need but believes it will help local communities to address these needs together.
“A lot of work has already been done by local service providers, Wentworth Shire Council, the interagency group and community members,” Kevin said.
“My role will be to engage with the broader community to identify service gaps so that Wentworth gets a primary health service that will meet its needs.”