Outreach Doctors

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Health heroes bringing care to most vulnerable

(source Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre)

THE need to “work and think differently” during the COVID-19 lockdown prompted Dr Chris Cameron’s healthcare plan for Hervey Bay. Dr Cameron, a Hervey Bay GP, and nurse Tahnee Togo, have spent the past six months developing their idea for a health clinic aimed at reaching the community’s most vulnerable.

Outreach Doctors has, in that time, met patients where they feel most comfortable and safe, allowing the healthcare team to build trust with people who were reluctant to see a doctor. Dr Cameron said the service was “for anyone who would prefer to see their doctor in the park, at the beach, at their home, in their school, at their aged care facility, on their phone or at their local community neighbourhood centre”.

Now, the fledgling program has received a valuable boost thanks to overwhelming community support. Outreach Doctors emerged as the decisive winner of the Pitch Night Community Choice award. Decided by public votes cast via Facebook likes, the community choice prize was $2000.

By the time voting closed on December 4, Outreach Doctors had attracted 312 votes. The closest runner-up got 205 votes.

Dr Cameron said the prize money would help pay for much-needed equipment and ensure the service kept reaching those who desperately need it.

“I came to the realisation that you can provide quality healthcare largely independent from the clinic through the use of new technology (and old, eg. Walkie Talkies) and can create an environment that improves cultural safety, efficiency, accessibility and community cohesion,” Dr Cameron said.

“Over the last month the outreach service has helped hundreds of people, many who haven’t seen a doctor for years including helping people gain NDIS support, get treatment for their chronic medical conditions, including mental health and find safe accommodation.

“We have helped connect patients with valuable community partners as well as provided them with an approachable health service that they are able to access for those reluctant to engage with mainstream medical services.”