Gippsland healthcare professionals and organisations were honoured for their work at Gippsland Primary Health Network’s 2020-2021 Gippsland Health Awards on Wednesday night.
Respected health journalist and commentator, Dr Norman Swan, announced the winners of the five categories at an online event attended by more than 100 people.
The ‘Better access to health services’ award went to the Gestational Diabetes Team at West Gippsland Healthcare Group for ensuring there was no disruption to the Gestational Diabetes Service in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jamie Supple from Outcome Health claimed the ‘Better prevention’ award for developing the Gippsland PHN COVID-19 Testing report.
The award for ‘Better support for diverse communities’ went to Gippsland Lakes Complete Health and Nowa Community Development Group for working to improve mental health through an increase in community connectedness in the drought and fire impacted community of Nowa.
Dr David Campbell and Dr Yousuf Ahmad shared the ‘Better partnerships’ award. Dr Campbell is chair of the East Gippsland COVID-19 Sub-regional Network and Dr Ahmad chairs the Wellington group.
The award for “Better primary care research’ went to Dr Lindy Washington of Bairnsdale Regional Health Service. Deputy Director Medical Services/Chief Medical Officer and Senior Emergency Consultant, Dr Washington was honoured for her contribution to high quality research findings and data presented at the East Gippsland COVID-19 Sub-regional Network meetings, providing support for general practitioners and health services during the pandemic.
Gippsland PHN Chief Executive Officer, Amanda Proposch, congratulated all the winners who she said had made a significant contribution to the Gippsland community during the year, especially in often challenging circumstances.
“These awards recognise and honour individuals and teams who work together to improve health across Gippsland by providing health and support services to our community,” Ms Proposch said.
“This year has been a challenge for our primary care workforce who have worked tirelessly to keep our community safe and ensure their services are accessible.”
Another highlight of the event was a performance again this year by the Nowa Nowa sisters, Bethany and Laurina.
Before presenting the awards, Dr Swan delivered a keynote address, giving his views on the coronavirus pandemic, vaccinations and the important role primary care has in the Australian health system.
He urged people to have their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. “This is not a two-dose vaccination strategy – it’s a three-dose strategy,” he said, saying people need that third dose to take them to the highest possible level of efficacy against coronavirus.
“Once high levels of 5-11 year olds are vaccinated, parents will relax and we will have a huge percentage of the Australian population vaccinated. Australians are great immunisers and we’re showing it again here.
“We can’t rest on our laurels as it will come back in our winter. Pandemics are here to stay.”
Dr Swan described primary care “as the cornerstone of health”, attributing the reduction of many diseases in Australia to the prevention and early intervention work undertaken in primary care.
“What GPs and primary care does for people is so important – people have stopped smoking, you’ve reduced cardiac risk by controlling blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes…you have extended the life expectancy of Australians by years. You’ve saved more lives by what you do.”
See the 2020-2021 Annual Report here. https://gphn.org.au/about-us/annual-report/