Health service staff its greatest asset

Against a backdrop of COVID-19 waves, major construction and record investment, our staff showed they are West Moreton Health’s greatest asset in 2021–2022.

The release of West Moreton Health’s Annual Report 20212022 this week details the breadth of work undertaken by staff at the hospital and health service.

Working together, healthcare teams have responded to increased emergency department presentations and higher rates of acuity, while maintaining a broadscale COVID-19 vaccination and testing program, delivering a major capital works agenda, completing a health needs assessment of the region, progressing innovative partnerships and importantly making a historic pledge to health equity for First Nations residents.

West Moreton Health Board Chair Michael Willis congratulated West Moreton Health staff for their dedication and planning while responding to COVID-19 disruptions for a third successive year.

The past year has been one of momentous change at West Moreton Health. One that has positioned us to innovate, transform and grow our health service,” Mr Willis said.

“Our staff demonstrated great resourcefulness, determination and commitment, providing safe, quality care in the context of repeated waves of the COVID-19 Omicron pandemic.”

By 2036, West Moreton’s current population of 320,000 is forecast to almost double to 588,000, delivering the fastest relative growth of Queensland’s health regions.

In 2021–2022, West Moreton Health continued to future-proof its services against rapid population growth and rising demand for our healthcare services.

“We are on track to complete the first stage of our $146.3 million Ipswich Hospital Expansion program with the opening of the multi-storey Acute Mental Health Unit early next year,” Mr Willis said.

“We look forward to realising several significant projects in coming years that will further help us meet the healthcare needs of our community.”

These include the $710 million stage 2 expansion of Ipswich Hospital, which will deliver an extra 200 beds by 2027; the delivery of the Ipswich Satellite Hospital at Ripley and a co-located sub-acute facility which will yield an extra 90 beds; and the development of a 45-bed residential Alcohol and Other Drugs rehabilitation facility in Ipswich. 

At the height of the vaccination campaign, West Moreton Health staff vaccinated up to 1,500 people a day at its clinic in the Ipswich CBD, as well as at schools, businesses, forensic and correctional settings and mobile clinics across the four council regions. By the end of June, 92.6% of residents were fully vaccinated.

Interim Chief Executive Hannah Bloch said she was looking forward to the reform measures that would come out of the Local Area Needs Assessment and health equity for First Nations peoples, two projects that began this year in response to the Queensland Government’s Unleashing the Potential report.

“This year we established the Jaghu Maternal and Infant program to provide a First Nations-designed and led, holistic service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families from conception through to the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life,” Ms Bloch said.

“We established two consumer and community advisory councils– one of which is comprised entirely of young people under 25 – and next year we look forward to creating a First Nations advisory council to give those communities a voice in our service planning.”

“We also worked closely with the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN to develop our inaugural Local Area Needs Assessment, to identify the programs, services and opportunities that are needed to improve the health of people living in our region.”

Clinical initiatives and service highlights from 2021–2022 include:

  • our COVID-19 virtual Hospital in the Home model of care, which has supported more than 3000 people since July 2021
  • a 24/7 service that increases the number of stroke patients who can be treated closer to home at Ipswich Hospital
  • the opening of West Moreton Jaghu Gym to support consumers who need rehabilitation for respiratory and cardiac conditions through exercise and wellness programs
  • launched a new virtual platform, Engage, to support more than 50 people with borderline personality disorder to access more timely support.

For the 2022 financial year, West Moreton Health delivered an operating surplus of $0.74 million.