Community & Business

3 July, 2024

Mareeba to lead innovative new healthcare model trial

A NEW model that will vastly improve the delivery of healthcare services in Mareeba will be fleshed out over the next three years after the Federal Government approved a $1.57 million grant for the project.

The Mareeba and Communities Family Healthcare board (back) Joe Moro, Ross Cardillo, Samuel Nastasi, (front) Cr Mary Graham and Betty Dickenson.
The Mareeba and Communities Family Healthcare board (back) Joe Moro, Ross Cardillo, Samuel Nastasi, (front) Cr Mary Graham and Betty Dickenson.

The grant, announced by Federal Health Minister Mark Butler last week, will be used by Mareeba and Communities Family Healthcare (MCFH) to explore, research and analyse which model will provide the best health outcomes for the shire.

The project is one of 11 innovative healthcare delivery trials in rural and remote Australia.

But it will also have flow-in benefits, according to MCFHC chair Ross Cardillo, because of the relationship forged between the local organisation and the National Rural Health Alliance which has direct access to the Minister.  

“The funding is there to explore and research what range of models would suit where we are,” Mr Cardillo said.

“It’s really to build more capacity around the doctors. It’s trying to build those allied health services. It’s building connections and developing processes.

“For example, we need more specialists visiting Mareeba so how do we do that sustainably long-term?

“The money’s there for a person to employ and do the research and analyse data and then come forward with a model for the future.

“We have areas we want to work on but we don’t know until we start scoping what can be done and how it can be done and if it can be done.

“Basically, it’s about what we can do now and how we can do it better.”

Alliance chief executive Susi Tegen said the funding would be used to trial the Primary Care Rural Integrated Multidisciplinary Health Service model revolutionise healthcare delivery in rural Australia.

The PRIM-HS model has been a long-term call of the Alliance for community-based, not-for-profit organisations to deliver multidisciplinary primary health care services that meet the specific health and wellbeing needs of their communities.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the Mareeba community to sustainably address unique local population health challenges, including workforce and lack of healthcare access and prioritise together, what they could deliver with collaboration,” she said.

“The grant also provides the ideal opportunity to lead the work recognised in the National Health Reform Agreement review process as a way forward for delivering primary health care in rural locations.

“We are committed to putting all our strength and expertise into this trial program by mentoring and providing support at a local level. 

“We will be working with MCFHC in the overarching PRIM-HS implementation and evaluation, facilitate the governance model and background planning, as well as sharing learnings and findings with other primary healthcare entities across Australia.

“As we progress the trial, we will be eager to share what is learnt and see the model being adapted in other communities across rural, regional and remote Australia to address the ongoing rural healthcare access and health outcomes challenges.”

Mr Cardillo says the relationship with the Alliance gives his committee a more direct route to the Minister and, if the trial program is successful, it will place them in a better position to apply for funding for more health infrastructure for the town.

“Being in partnership with the Alliance, they speak with the Federal Health Minister on a regular basis, so we’re basically now at the table,” he said.

“When we want to ask for something specifically, we’ll go down and sit at the table. We have a connection straight to Canberra now.

“If we do well with this, that’s gives us a foot up – if we come up with all these services but the clinic is not big enough, we can then ask for $5 million for a new clinic, much the same as Emerald did with their super clinic.”

He said the eventual healthcare model would more than likely be picked up by other regional or rural towns.

“We could be a model for other towns in the future – we have already been approached by St George.”

Mr Cardillo acknowledged the work of Louise Livingstone in applying for the funding, advising that she will also now be the project manager and was involved in conducting interviews to procure the consultant, with a view to starting work on the trial in the next few weeks.


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