Hand in hand

The priority primary care centre is up and running, accepting patients with appointments and walk ins. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Sahar Foladi

The Andrews Labor Government has already rolled out ten Priority Primary Care Centres across Victoria with 25 in total.

This was done in response to the staggering pressure on emergency departments (ED), hospital staff and the unbelievable wait time for people in ED as there were no other alternative.

Zainab Foladi lives merely two minutes away from the Dandenong hospital but says she has to think before going to the hospital.

“I’ve had bad experiences. I think a thousand times before going to Dandenong Hospital, because of the wait time.”

When she was pregnant with her first baby in August 2021, she had severe morning sickness and other issues which would force her to wait in the emergency department.

“Even though I had a referral for emergency care from my doctor, I waited more 4 hours to be seen while pregnant,” Ms Foladi said.

Her pregnancy sickness conditions along with the waiting time at the hospital have been a nightmare for the couple. Even five days before she gave birth on 30 April she had visited the hospital.

The prominent issues almost every Victorians faced in the ED also reflected in numbers and reports.

Dandenong Hospital scored higher than the combined state-wide in median waiting times for patients in minutes, according to Victorian Agency for Health Information (VAHI).

April to September 2022, were the hospital struggled the most with only 48.81 per cent patients treated within the recommended time (VAHI).

While her husband, Ejaz Dostizadah said he understood where they were coming from, he said seeing his wife in pain and waiting made him feel helpless and upset.

“We argued a lot with the staff during our visits in the hospital but we were told there are people with serious conditions that are being looked after. We were told they’re understaffed especially during the night,” Mr Dostizadah said.

According to the Dandenong Hospital’s annual report 2021-22, 54 per cent of triage one to five emergency patients were seen within clinically recommended times while they targeted for more than 80 per cent.

Hearing about the new care centre in Dandenong, Ms Foladi and her husband are relieved to know they have an alternative to the ED.

“I feel like we’ll be in safe hands. I feel like we are more looked after now than before and obviously the load from the hospital will be less,” Ms Foladi said.

Operations Manager of Greens Medical Group care centre, Rieke Jooste said with the amazing highly qualified doctors available, they can also support and care for pregnant women.

“Those patients do not have to go to ED. We have GP’s always available even in after hours. We have access to ultrasound after hours if they need it so they don’t have to go to ED.”

Ms Jooste said the care centre is fully equipped to help the hospital side by side.

“We’ve got some of the best emergency doctors. The emergency nurses that work here are highly qualified. We’ve got access to X-rays, ultrasound, pathology so if a patient needs x-ray in the after-hours they don’t need to go to the hospital for it.”

The priority primary care centre is on 1/134 Logis Blvd Dandenong South VIC 3175 and operates from 7am to 11pm seven days a week.

“Main thing we are trying to do is stopping people even from attending ED if not necessary. We are out there to make a change. We want to make a difference to the hospitals and hope we can work side by side to make this work over a very long term,” Ms Jooste said.

Ms Jooste said the centre has been busier now that more people are finding out about it.

“We went from 4 to 5 patients a day to 16 to 18. We’re aiming on seeing at least 45 patients a day. That will make a difference to the ED.”

Patients can walk in, book an appointment and also bring in their referral all with or without Medicare.

“They can come here rather than the ED for small things like stitches, minor burn wounds and that counts for all patients with or without Medicare.”

The care centre can treat minor issues and infections such as, fever, heartburn, vomiting or nausea, allergies and rashes, migraines, light bleeding in first trimester of pregnancy, back and muscle pain, sprains and minor fractures and mild to moderate asthma attacks.

If you’re not sure whether to visit the hospital or care centre, you can visit the Greens Medical Group website or give them a call on 03 9579 7933.