Forward thinking to enhance the health and wellbeing of the community
As Dr Andrew Montague, Chief Executive for the Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD), looks into the future, he sees young doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals being able to train close to home in redeveloped facilities, with staff operating safely and efficiently, and being recognised for their efforts. Rather than sit back and wish for these things to happen, Dr Montague and CCLHD are putting plans into action.
Training & Research
Partnering with the University of Newcastle, CCLHD will open a Clinical School and Research Institute building in Gosford in April 2021. Rather than rotating in from Newcastle, students will be based on the Central Coast, working in the community in which they live.
“I think that has a lot of benefits in terms of retention and recruitment of medical practitioners going forward as well, which then has positive effects for the economy of the Central Coast,” Dr Montague told VENTURE.
The clinical school will be accompanied by a research institute focused on integrated care, headed by Professor Nick Goodwin, founder and chief executive of the International Foundation for Integrated Care. Professor Goodwin has extensive experience in integrated care and is well-published in the field.
“A lot of (research institutes) are very laboratory and science-based institutes, whereas our focus will be bringing together healthcare and other components of social care to address the big issues our community tell us are affecting their health and wellbeing,” Dr Montague said.
CCLHD has partnered with a local startup called Spotto, which utilises radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. After consulting with hospital staff about the biggest problems that could utilise this technology, the first areas that are trialling this technology are bariatric equipment such as beds and wheelchairs, and surgical equipment in operating theatres.
“It’s all about making things easier to find; finding the right equipment to be used at the right time and taking out that incidental time that’s wasted from people having to look for items,” Dr Montague said.
From those relatively simple fixes, CCLHD hopes to use the RFID tech from Spotto in a more clinical context to directly improve patient outcomes. “For situations like patient falls, how we can actually use the technology to reduce the chances of someone at risk of falling actually having a fall and the potential adverse outcomes that can result,” Dr Montague said.
Just as CCLHD consulted with staff on what everyday problems RFID technology could address, Dr Montague said they have listened to staff across all departments through their annual staff surveys on what other changes could be made to improve the overall organisational culture.
“We now have a very clear set of values that align with the New South Wales Health values of CORE, which stand for collaboration, openness, respect, and empowerment, and we’ve got clear definitions of what each of them mean for us on the Central Coast,” Dr Montague said. “We’re now moving into that phase where you start to have the discussion around how you manage values and behaviours that don’t align with the those of the health service.”
To acknowledge and celebrate those who do exemplify positive values and behaviours and who make the workplace safer for colleagues and patients, CCLHD is instituting an annual awards ceremony.
“We’ve had the local community come on board, with a number of organisations sponsoring the event, and it’s starting to create a bit of buzz among staff,” Dr Montague said. “They see that they’ll be recognised publicly for the good work that they’re doing on a day-to-day basis.”
CCLHD’s focus is not just on improving how staff operate; the hospitals are getting an upgrade, too. Gosford Hospital has undergone a $348 million transformation, whilst Wyong Hospital is about to commence a $200 million redevelopment. All the while, patient care never takes a backseat.
“Building around a very busy facility on a brown field site has its issues,” Dr Montague said. “What we have learnt is that by being open with staff, getting their input on the best times to do certain works, which at times means out of hours when throughput is not as busy, and bringing staff on board we’re more likely to have success in aligning the construction process with the 24/7 operation of the hospital. We are taking these lessons on board with our design at Wyong Hospital.”
Dr Montague said the relationships with Health Infrastructure and Lendlease have been instrumental in keeping the Gosford Hospital redevelopment running smoothly.
“We’ve got to the size where we’re now truly becoming not only a provider of healthcare services, but a place where education and research is seen as a part of what people do, and it’s by having that sort of approach and developing that culture of learning and research that we really see the opportunity to improve the service we provide, which will then lead to better outcomes for the Central Coast community,” Dr Montague said.
That spells out a healthy future for everyone.