Corryong Medical Clinic
Corryong Health operates the Corryong Medical Clinic five days per week, employing four general practitioners and one registrar. Four RNs with accredited immunisation, pap test provision and diabetes education credentials support the clinic as practice and district nurses. Visiting specialists include a General Surgeon and Paediatrician.
Like many health services in small, remote communities, Corryong Health and the Corryong community faces the difficulty of maintaining existing clinical services and attracting and retaining skilled health professionals.
In the endeavour to ensure provision of health care, Corryong Health has combined the range of services it delivers under the framework of the National Multi-Purpose-Services-Program .
This federal and state funded program involves the amalgamation of acute and general hospital services, general practice clinic, allied health, community health and aged care services (respite and residential). Corryong Health also operates the health and fitness centre, the retirement village and the Australian Institute of Flexible Learning, which is a registered training organisation providing local training opportunities in health, aged care support, business and community services.
In small, isolated communities this program allows services to exist in regions that may not viably support stand-alone hospitals or aged care homes (Reference). In the early 1990’s the health service took the opportunity to apply to be funded under the Multi-Purpose Services Program and commenced operation under this format in 1995.
The Corryong Hospital has 10 acute beds, HDU, 24/7 urgent care centre, 30 residential aged care and disability beds, day procedure unit utilised by specialist surgeon monthly, dialysis, domiciliary midwifery, pathology and medical imagery service.
Corryong Health Chief Executive and Director of Nursing, Maxine Brockfield explained Corryong Health understood the need to provide the doctors and their families with support and ensure working conditions provided a good work life balance.
“We are acutely aware of the need to provide support to the doctors and their families… we are flexible in supporting them in whatever ways we can in order to sustain the medical service.” said Maxine.
Corryong Health has established an after hours emergency support arrangement with Albury Wodonga Health (the regional referral centre). The Urgent Care Centre is staffed by Rural & Isolated Practice Endorsed Registered Nurses (RIPERN) who are supported by Albury Wodonga Health Emergency department via telehealth and phone contact.
The nursing staff have the capacity to triage category 4 and 5 patients and can supply certain prescription medications and are trained in basic x-ray. High acuity patients are transferred via Ambulance Victoria to Albury Wodonga (130km road trip) or by Air Ambulance to Melbourne.
“We have worked towards having our RN nurses complete the RIPERN training and are making efforts to bring in other services to assist the doctors. For the community, having that continuity and consistency in afterhours and emergency service is really important.”said Maxine Brockfield.
DR PAUL DODDS
Dr Paul Dodds graduated from Monash University in 1986. After working for two years in metro hospitals and doing various rotations in Gippsland, he moved north and spent over a decade working in North Queensland, Northern Territory and the west Kimberley, predominantly in Aboriginal Health. With their four children, he and his wife moved to Victoria to be closer to extended family, arriving in Corryong in 2001.
Dr Dodds is a foundation fellow of ACRRM. In the past he has practiced as a GP Obstetrician and GP Anaesthetist. He acts as the Primary Supervisor supporting registrars and has special interests in chronic disease management, musculoskeletal medicine, and palliative care.
Having been in Corryong for nearly twenty years, Dr Dodds has experienced the complexities of maintaining an adequate medical workforce to provide health care to the community. He explained that the Health Service taking on the management of the practice and supporting the GPs by establishing the relationship with the Albury Wodonga Health Emergency Department for remote after hours cover, has improved the working conditions for the GPs.
For Dr Dodds, the lifestyle in a rural centre and the opportunities for varied practice are what makes rural practice attractive.
DR NICK MASON
After graduating from University of Melbourne in 2005, Dr Mason worked in Geelong, Warrnambool, Alice Springs and Ghana, West Africa. He obtained his FRACGP and FACRRM then moved to Corryong in 2012, where his partner has family connections. Dr Mason has the Advanced Diploma in obstetrics and gynaecology and has special interests in women’s health, skin care medicine and minor surgery.
Dr Mason explained the flexibility of the health service in enabling him to job share with his partner (GP at the practice Dr Hannah Mason) while having a young family, has been a major attraction of working in Corryong.
“The health service and the town in general, is very supportive of the GPs. There is a big focus on ensuring the service remains sustainable.“ said Dr Nick Mason.
For Dr Mason being a remote GP means the clinical work is varied and interesting and he enjoys the combination of family practice, acute medicine and chronic disease management. He sees this diversity of practice as a major benefit of being in a remote location where the practitioners, as part of a multi-disciplinary team, provide the “whole care package”. Dr Mason explained working alongside allied health and community health services as part of the consultation provides great continuity of care for patients and makes the role of the GP much easier.
“Knowing follow up care is being coordinated by those support services is one of the great advantages of being is a small community” said Dr Mason.
Dr Mason attributes the diversity of experience in a remote location as being a major advantage for Registrars, stating the broad learning opportunities obtained outweigh the disadvantage of travelling a bit further to obtain that experience.
“There is a lot of value in travelling that little bit further to a very diverse practice and a supportive community that has a lot to offer. There is a lot of benefit in travelling that extra distance.” said Dr Nick Mason.
DR HANNAH MASON
Dr Hannah Mason graduated from University of Melbourne in 2005. After working in Alice Springs and Ghana, she commenced her AGTP training in Warrnambool. Having family connections to Corryong, together with her partner (Dr Nick Mason) made the choice to join the Corryong practice in 2012. Dr Mason has, between working part time and having a family, completed the RACGP program in 2018 and is awaiting Fellowship.
Dr Mason enjoys the range of medicine she encounters as a remote practitioner and describes the practice as being well supported with afterhours back up and regular visits from specialist surgeons and paediatrician.
In describing what attracts her to general practice it is the relationships developed with people, across whole families that appeals.
Another major benefit for Dr Mason is the access to allied health practitioners and community health services. She described being in a community where “everyone knows who’s who” means that patients, particularly the elderly or vulnerable, are well supported and the job is made easier with these functions in place.
“… being co-located with allied health and community health services… is really good. The team is so easily mobilised to provide assistance and support – around whatever the persons’ needs are.” said Dr Hanna Mason.
Dr Hannah Mason enjoys the easy life style of a rural location, “not having to commute” and the sense of belonging in a strong community that works together to provide what they need.
“Corryong has an incredibly strong sense of community. I might sign a death certificate on the ward. Then get an email from the footy club saying we are catering the funeral, so you’ll make a slice to go to the funeral, and you will realise you work with the persons daughter or mother ….. you are part of that story”. said Dr Mason.
DR JIA HSIAN (GRACIE) PUN
Dr Pun grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Australia to complete University training. She obtained her MBBS from University of Melbourne 2010. She completed her hospital training in Geelong, Albury and Shepparton.
Starting in general practice after working in hospital environments, Dr Pun explained one of the major differences is being able to see the patients’ progress and developing a relationship with the patient over time.
“It is good to be able to follow up the patient. A lot of times in the hospital you see a patient once and never see them again. You never know what you did wrong – or right!”said Dr Gracie Pun
For Dr Pun an advantage of being in a more remote practice is that you have a broader experience and are involved in the full spectrum of patient care. Having the assistance from her supervisors to fully manage the patient, through initial assessment, hospital admission, treatment, discharge and follow up has been a great opportunity to expand her understanding of general practice care.
“I started my training in the city hospital, but when I compare my experience there to working here in Corryong, you actually see more things and you are more involved with the patient care. You have the opportunity to fully manage your patient.” said Dr Pun.
Each of the GPs at the practice are available as supervisors and have extensive experience in procedural general practice, particularly relating to women’s’ health, obstetrics, palliative care and the treatment of skin cancer and skin problems. Dr Pun has had opportunities to undertake minor surgical procedures and assist in minor procedures with the visiting surgeon.
Dr Pun, as a new GP, described the breath of clinical opportunities and the ability to take the time to monitor patients progress, as well as the ability to develop a relationship with the patients as being particularly attractive.
“In general practice you have the luxury of time… time for the development of relationships with people, time to monitor how they are going. That is the charm of general practice.” said Dr Gracie Pun.
The picturesque town of Corryong has a population 1,348. It is located 130km east of the nearest major regional centre, Albury Wodonga. Click here for further Information
Dr Paul DODDS, FACRRM DRANZCOG Primary Supervisor
Dr Nick MASON, FRACGP 2012, FACRRM 2013, DRANZCOG, Supervisor
Dr Hannah MASON, MBBS 2010, awaiting FRACGP 2018
Dr Gracie PUN, MBBS 2010, AGPT Registrar GPT1 2018, and
Corryong Health Chief Executive and Director of Nursing, Maxine Brockfield.