Portland hopes to reverse surgery outflow

INPATIENT numbers rose by more than 1000 to 5289 at Portland District Health (PDH) during the last financial year.

However, the 2011-12 annual report showed despite the increase in patient numbers, the number of operations performed fell.

PDH recorded a surplus of $32,000, which included funding from the Department of Health. Total expenditure for the year was more than $35 million.

Chairman Mike Noske said the employment of a new general surgeon and physician supported by six hospital doctors and more than 30 visiting physicians and surgeons had boosted services.

“PDH has continued to move forward by all measures,” he said.

But Mr Noske said despite improvements and new medical appointments over the past five years, Portland patients continued to be referred out of town for procedures that could be delivered by Portland’s health service.

“This is a situation I hope we can change over the next year,” he said.

Almost 8900 people were treated at the accident and emergency department during the past financial year.

PDH also received high approval ratings in the annual statewide customer satisfaction survey.

The annual report comes as PDH appointed a new chief executive officer, Christine Giles, who will begin in mid December.

She will replace retiring CEO John O’Neill, who was in the role for five years.

Ms Giles said she hoped to work in partnership with the community to build the organisation’s provision of high-quality and appropriate health services.

“I am keen to go out into the community and hear what they say and what they want,” she said.

Ms Giles was formerly CEO of Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area Health Service for Queensland Health, where she oversaw two hospitals and 22 clinics. 

More recently she has been working with local indigenous elders and women to help develop non-government primary health care programs. She also spent nine years as executive director of nursing at Wangaratta Hospital.

“My main priorities at this stage are to engage with the community and the medical staff to make sure we are providing services that people need and use locally and to ensure we have good clinical governance,” she said.

Mr Noske paid tribute to Mr O’Neill for restoring PDH’s ability to meet its financial and service targets.

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