Mobile clinic to deliver much needed health services out west
John Dennehy is all too aware of the health challenges facing patients in rural and remote parts of Queensland.
Before becoming the director at Better Movement Clinic in Toowoomba, the young exercise physiologist from south Sydney used to travel an average of 3000 kilometres each week to see patients across western Queensland.
“I spent the first five years of my career after studying at JCU in Townsville running around all over western Queensland and northern New South Wales from Normanton to Inverell to communities via car and plane or whatever I got given at that point in time,” he said.
“This really fostered the passion I have for improving health access for all Australians, no matter where they live and ultimately gave me the idea to launch a mobile health clinic.”
Mr Dennehy launched BMC in 2013 and with the support of TSBE health general manager, Jaden Frame, recently purchased a mobile health clinic from the University of Sunshine Coast to help take a range of health services to patients in Tara, Miles and other remote parts of the Western and Darling Downs.
With the support of TSBE health general manager, Jaden Frame, Mr Dennehy recently purchased a mobile health clinic from the Sunshine Coast University to help take a range of health services to patients across the Western and Darling Downs.
“I could see this region was in desperate need of a mobile health clinic to reduce the amount of travel strain placed on patients particularly when there is such a dire workforce shortage out west,” he said.
“So, we decided we needed to go to them, rather than them having to come to Toowoomba for a wide range of health services such as exercise physiology, physiotherapy, dietetics and many more other allied health therapies.
“The mobile clinic has already had two trips out to Miles and Tara in the Western Downs and one trip to Oakey and we’ve already received over 200 referrals from these trips alone, so we can already see these services are in high demand with a huge number of people particularly seeking advice and support from our dietetics professionals.
“There hasn’t been pyhsio services out in these communities for several years so as word travels we’re also seeing a lot more physio referrals and patients reaching out to us which is great to see.”
Far more than just a mode of transportation for health experts, the mobile health clinic van is set up to cater for just about every patient from every background.
“We’re able to deliver Medicare, private and disability consultations, the van is fitted out with a full physio bed and telehealth based facilities so if a patient cannot physically get to a specialist and doesn’t have the technology required, we can assist by running consultations from our van.”
Mr Dennehy said Toowoomba and Surat basin Enterprises had supported his vision and goal for the mobile clinic from the beginning.
“We’ve been working closely with TSBE for just over 12 months now and they’ve been really beneficial in seeking privately funded sources for our other projects, promoting our services and helping us with workforce recruitment.
“Unfortunately when it comes to allied health services the majority of professionals aren’t prepared to leave the metropolitan and coastal areas and come up the range, and TSBE have really helped improve our recruitment of professionals into the Darling Downs region.
“Jaden from TSBE was actually the one who sourced and located the mobile clinic van on the coast which was fundamental because some of the practices and health facilities in these small towns simply don’t have the space to offer the services we provide.”
Mr Dennehy said he was excited for the endless possibilities the mobile health clinic could now offer to patients out west and was confident the frequency and range of allied health services would continue to grow over time.
“We’re very passionate that everyone should be able to access health services from their home and local community, no matter where they live in Queensland,” he said.
“Living in a rural part of Australia shouldn’t limit your quality of life or the health opportunities you have access too and hopefully through our mobile health clinic service, more rural and remote patients can now access the health services they need and deserve.”
Originally published as Mobile clinic to deliver much needed health services out west