A phone app that reduces surgery cancellations and a program that has cut antibiotic use by almost a third were among the highlights for the local health district in the last financial year.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District spent $898 million in 2016/17 – with $18 million of that spent finalising capital works projects at the region’s hospitals.
Shoalhaven Hospital received $10 million worth of upgrades; at Kiama residents welcomed the opening of a $3.6 million integrated primary and community health centre; while plans were finalised for the Bulli Aged Care Centre of Excellence.
Those gathered for the district’s annual public meeting on Monday heard that it had been a busy year – with 3339 babies born; 23,268 surgeries and more than 153,000 total emergency presentations.
More than 385,000 occupied hospital bed days were recorded across the region, with nearly 40,000 of those due to mental health issues. Meanwhile demand for cancer, renal and drug and alcohol services remained high.
The meeting was also a chance to look forward, with the district’s board releasing a three-year strategic plan.
Board chair Denis King said investing in patient-centred models of care and developing an integrated health system were among the key aims to 2020.
‘’We have a growing and ageing population, access to services remains a challenge in some areas, and groups within our local community continue to experience higher than average rates of chronic disease and health risk factors,’’ he said.
‘’In serving our community, we are focused on health programs and care that are best-practice, evidence based and of the highest quality.
‘’This means a commitment to research, innovation and continuous improvement and ensuring that we anticipate and adapt appropriately to change.’’
The strategic plan took a further leap forward to 2031, when the region’s population was expected to grow to over 450,000 people – a quarter of whom would be 65 or older – placing increasing demand on existing services.
ISLHD chief executive Margot Mains said the district needed to better engage with the community, allowing residents to be more involved in shaping services and promoting healthy living.
Strengthening partnerships with health partners and other local organisations would help improve integrated care; while building a positive workplace culture would increase staff performance.
‘’Continuous improvement of our staff and services, by harnessing new and emerging technologies, will enable us to better engage with our diverse communities and exceed their expectations,’’ she said.
The strategic plan is available on the ISLHD website.