CEO’s Corner

Local health services play a pivotal role in the well-being and vitality of our rural communities. While metropolitan and regional areas often have access to a range of healthcare options and specialists, rural areas frequently face challenges in accessing quality healthcare due to geographical isolation, limited resources, and fewer providers. Having locally provided services becomes indispensable for ensuring equitable access to healthcare for our community.

Locally operated health and social services such as Grampians Community Health (GCH) and East Grampians Health (EGHS) are better equipped to understand and cater to the unique needs of our community. We know that people living in our region have higher rates of chronic diseases, limited access to housing and social supports, increased rates of family violence, and barriers to primary and preventive care. As local healthcare providers we are more attuned to these challenges and have adapted our services to address this. We foster stronger relationships with you as individuals, promoting trust and encouraging you to seek timely assistance.

One clear advantages of locally provided health services is proximity. In our communities, where transportation options are limited and there is huge distances to urban hospitals, having local health services means people can access care more conveniently, or in an emergency get immediate help.

Furthermore, local health services contribute to the economy of our towns. By providing employment our services help stimulate local economies. GCH alone is assessed as injecting $62m of value into our economy. Local services also attract professionals and families to settle in rural areas, knowing that good healthcare is locally available. This has a cascading effect, leading to the growth and sustainability of rural communities.

Locally operated health services offer community-focused programs and initiatives aimed at promoting overall well-being. These include health education, preventive screenings, mental health support groups, and personal improvement programs. By addressing not only medical needs but also the social determinants and lifestyle choices, these services contribute to the holistic health of country people.

As we have seen recently during fires and heatwaves, locally provided health services are essential for emergency response and recovery in rural communities. During natural disasters, public health crises, or other emergencies, GCH and EGHS were at the forefront of emergency health care, supporting individuals and being on the ground for our communities and impacted residents.

So, locally operated health services are indispensable for the vitality and sustainability of rural communities. By providing accessible, tailored, and community-centred care, our services play a crucial role in promoting health equity, economic development, social cohesion, and overall well-being in rural areas. Investing in and supporting our local health services should be a priority for governments and community stakeholders alike.


First published in the Ararat Advocate on May 10th 2024