New management for doctors surgery

The Clarinda Street Medical Centre has been acquired by a group well known for providing services to rural Australia.
The Clarinda Street Medical Centre has been acquired by a group well known for providing services to rural Australia.

The Clarinda Street Medical Centre has been acquired by a group well known for providing services to rural Australia.

Ochre Health acquired the well-established local doctors surgery in November 2014 and patients will have noticed the change in uniforms of office staff in the past few weeks.

But that is basically the only change, with patient services to continue as normal.

The Clarinda Street Centre has operated medical services in the town for the last 60 years, with previous owners Dr Stephen Morris (almost 30 years), Dr David Harwood (24 years) and Dr John Gale (almost 20 years) continuing to provide their GP services to the practice and procedural cover (obstetrics and anesthetics) to Parkes District Hospital.

Local spokesperson, Dr Harwood explained that it was the management of the practice which had been sold.

“We won't have to cope with the day to day stresses of managing a small business with the staff and other overheads being cared for by Ochre Health,” he said.

“What the change will mean is a bit of a future for our families.

“We will continue to practice medicine but it means we now might be able to make some pleasant decisions about our future, even a holiday now and then.

“There has been some concern from local residents about whether we were staying.  We certainly are. 

“Patients will continue to be able to see their local doctor.”

Dr Harwood said the teaching of registrars would also continue.

“We have two new doctors who have started, and we will have a registrar join us in the next few weeks,” he said.

“Others who have been here are moving back to be near their families.”

The new owners, Ochre Health was started by doctors in Bourke in 2002 and have expanded now to 25 medical centres, most of which are rural.

“We have and will continue to build up the rural workforce,” Dr  Hamish Meldrum (Director Medical Services) told the Champion Post.

“We have an interest in measuring and improving the health outcomes in the communities we work in.”

Dr Meldrum said they moved into Condobolin when there were only two doctors, one of whom worked at the hospital.

“We now have four doctors, and three in the hospital, so we have double the workforce.

“Deniliquin was another centre at breaking point, but it is now operating wonderfully.

“We feel we understand the bigger picture of rural health.

“In Parkes, there will be very little change - if anything, further investment in the practice and the town.

“We are lucky in Parkes to be working with David (Harwood), Stephen (Morris) and John (Gale) and the team of doctors and staff.

“I have to say that the team in Parkes has been a pleasure to work with,” Dr Meldrum said.

“Parkes Medical Centre services the local population of 12,219 and a further 4,200 residents in surrounding areas (ABS 2006), offering a range of primary health services.

The Medical Centre currently operates with five GPs and five GP Registrars who also provide hospital cover for Obstetrics, Anesthetics, Surgery and Emergency. 

“Consulting rooms are available also for visiting specialists and Allied Health Providers.”

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Ochre Health has changed the medical landscape in Australia over the past decade. 

When the two doctors, Ross Lamplugh and Hamish Meldrum, set Ochre Health up in 2002, they did so with a vision to create a small family-orientated business, selling their own stories of outback family bliss to attract like-minded doctors to Bourke in the far north west of the state.

Marketing the sunburnt country and improving healthcare across its very disparate environments became a passion and the company quickly expanded to include rural locations across NSW, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland. 

Today, having won government contracts to supply general practitioner super clinics to Grafton, Canberra and the Sunshine Coast, Ochre Health has improved healthcare immeasurably in communities across Australia.