Holistic care, patient education, early intervention
You can instantly feel the team camaraderie among the doctors of Branyan Clinic. There is an ease between them as they discuss the Clinic’s focus on holistic care, patient education and early intervention.
They are not only passionate about caring for their patients, but also about providing support services to help them as well.
Dr Luke Whiting said the team of general practitioners (GPs) believe strongly in shared care – that they are a stronger team when they work together; providing a space for patients to stay in one place and get to know all the staff. “We have a lot of services under one roof, so we can refer in-house to psychologists or the team at Sugar Right, or the physiotherapists for rehab in the gym,” he said.
Between them, the team of nine doctors have all ailments covered. From mens’ and womens’ health, vasectomies, paediatrics, psychiatry, medical cannabis and pain control, elder care to skin checks; the GPs’ special interests run the full gamut. They use their knowledge to provide education sessions to patients. As travel restrictions ease, they are planning a travel vaccination clinic too.
Dr Trevor Akister said treating the patient as a whole was recognised as being beneficial for treatment, including looking at other lifestyle factors that influence a patient’s life. “It’s not about just giving medications to a patient. Quite a lot of patients give that as the reason for leaving other practitioners; people increasingly want more than just a prescription. It’s about actually sitting down and talking about lifestyle interventions, which is particularly important with obesity, and finding the gap between patients wanting to change and providing medication,” Trevor said.
Dr Shanna Bailey, who works in the High School GP program one day per week, said there were untold benefits of treating disease, like type two diabetes, before it had a chance to fully develop.
“If we can start the education early, especially at a high school level, we have a chance to slow the rate of diabetes and break that generational cycle,” she said.
Thanks to an influx of new doctors from the United Kingdom and Ireland joining the experienced team in the past 12 months, the mixed-billing Clinic is accepting new patients.
Education and support are important treatments
Branyan Clinic’s ever-expanding allied health team has a wealth of experience and includes diabetes educators, dietitians, exercise physiologists, nurses, physiotherapists and psychologists. Any person can attend by making a direct private booking or with a referral from their general practitioner (GP).
The Clinic is known for the popular allied health programs it runs, such as Lung Smart, Heart Start and Sugar Right.
The programs focus on early education to encourage lifestyle changes. Anyone who has had a cardiac event can be referred to the Heart Start Program, which is an eight-week service and includes two sessions in the gym and education, This is similar to LungSmart which is for chronic lung conditions. The exercise physiologists also run a Move 4 Medicine program which is about lifestyle modification for diabetics.
Branyan Clinic is particularly proud of one of their newest programs, SugarRight. For complex or high-risk diabetic cases, a multidisciplinary team of practitioners work with patients, including Community Diabetes Program Manager Rebekah McLaughlin, accredited diabetes educator Margaret Halling, a podiatrist, optometrist, social worker, psychologist, dietitian and exercise physiologist. The program is comprehensive and includes medical reviews as well as structured management plans. There is no out-of-pocket cost for patients, and it works in conjunction with the patient’s regular GP. Margaret, Rebekah and the team of exercise physiologists also see patients on a one-on-one basis.
Branyan Clinic is run by not-for-profit organisation Bundaberg Health Promotions. The clinic was originally built as part of the Australian Government’s GP Super Clinic program and opened its doors in 2012. Bundaberg Health Promotions was first established in 1996 to run a cardiac rehabilitation program (now Heart Start), and improved the Cornish Walking Track in North Bundaberg, which has been in use since 1994.