Women in regional Victoria will now be able to access healthcare previously only available in metropolitan areas, thanks to a new clinic at Maryvale Private Hospital.
Initially a telehealth service delivered from a consulting suite at the Gippsland hospital, the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health clinic will provide a trained nurse to answer patients’ questions and provide next steps along with resources from the not-for-profit organisation.
If the telehealth service is successful, a local in-person clinic is planned by mid-2023.
Maryvale Private Hospital CEO Lee Garwood said women who lived in the country were often at a disadvantage when it came to healthcare options.
“For women in regional areas, it’s a challenge to access timely medical advice,” he said.
“And we find that people tend to want to soldier on, but when they do find the courage to see someone about their health, we want that to be done as quickly as possible.
“It’s important to solve those health problems locally if we can.”
Jean Hailes for Women's Health is a national not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving women's health across Australia through every life stage, and CEO Janet Michelmore said it was excited to be delivering services in Gippsland.
“Gippsland women currently represent six percent of all patients attending a Jean Hailes Women’s Health Clinic in metropolitan Melbourne, so we can see a real need for a local service to help support these women,” she said.
Mr Garwood said telehealth had come ahead in leaps and bounds, largely thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and more patients were now familiar with the healthcare option.
“COVID definitely allowed us to advance the ways in which we deliver healthcare,” he said.
“And having the Jean Hailes clinic appointments in a hospital environment is important too.
“Sometimes women may be in a domestic violence situation or there’s a sensitive subject they’d like to discuss without their partner or children present.
“And you know, we have had telehealth appointments take place in inappropriate places like the supermarket, or the car park.
“We want women to come here and feel comfortable and to not feel rushed.”
Mr Garwood said too many women tended to put their healthcare needs last.
“If women are juggling work, children, and just the day-to-day life things like grocery shopping, they put their healthcare off,” he said.
“But we want to let people know that their health is important, and we’re working towards helping people being proactive about their health – health problems don’t discriminate.”
The Gippsland Primary Health Network reported in 2019 that women’s sexual and reproductive conditions were under-diagnosed and subsequently remained untreated.
Specifically, the diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis in Gippsland was half the expected rate of the rest of the Victorian population.
“At Maryvale Private Hospital we are passionate about providing the best services locally to Gippslanders,” Mr Garwood said.
“And to be able to add a women’s health service of Jean Hailes’ calibre is fantastic for Gippsland women and will complement our team of experienced gynaecologists who operate at the hospital.”
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