Ulong Mountain Health Hub – a long windy road to success

Before the hub opened, TAFE nurses came to Ulong to check in on community members every month, in a cold empty hall. Don Cleary and Kim Squires get attended to by student Tracey Martin, now a qualified nurse.

OFFICIALLY opening next week, the completed and well-equipped treatment room at Ulong’s Health Hub is a major boon for the mountain community.

The dedicated treatment room complements the consultation room within the village’s expanding Health Hub, which opened on 14 April 2021.

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The remoteness of the mountain village, accessed from Coffs Harbour by a single winding road, with no pharmacy or doctor’s surgery for miles around, means the evolving Health Hub is a highly valued service and lifeline for local residents.

The treatment room, officially opening on Thursday 15 February, will provide dedicated space for visiting Allied Health professionals.

City of Coffs Harbour (CoCH) Mayor Cr Paul Amos will join the opening celebrations, as will councillor and Brooklana farmer Rodger Pryce, who will represent Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh.

Also in attendance will be various dignitaries, supporters and the village’s residents.

“This treatment room is the culmination of a seven-year dream to bring health services to our rural mountain communities,” said Carol Cleary, Chair of the Ulong Hall Committee, a driving force behind the fundraising for the treatment room.

Carol and husband Steve Cleary own the General Store at Ulong.

Through the nature of their business – as a general grocery, Australia Post hub, rural Centrelink agent, B and B and gas distributor – they hear everyone’s health plight.

Carol said her dream for the community could not have come true without the support and generosity of locals.

“People such as our wonderful tradies who probably shudder when I call, but always step up to do their bit for our community – Rod Young our builder, Jason Carver from JAC plumbing, and Daryl Caesar for the electrical,” she said.

“With a project like this there are always hidden problems, causing unexpected costs such as air conditioning problems, fixed by MML Air conditioning, and vinyl flooring kindly donated by Dorothy and Alan Rutherford, a local resident.

“The fit out of the room to such a high standard is thanks to the kind and generous donations of Deidre from Your Family Practice in Laurieton, who donated a wealth of equipment including a vaccine fridge, hydraulic beds, trollies, and treatment chairs to name but a few, and Jodi Crow from Medilogic, who generously stocked our room with a huge bundle of consumables.”

Carol said such generosity is extremely humbling and very appreciated.

Her hope is that with the new treatment room, Dr Ruthnam will be able to extend his service to assist patients on site, without the need to travel to Coffs Harbour.

“We are also looking at providing a pathology and immunisation service in conjunction with the monthly Health Hub,” said Carol, “as well as attracting other Allied Health professionals.

“A huge thank you needs to be extended to Gurmesh Singh MP and to Healthy North Coast, who without their continual funding support this would not have happened.”

Carol is now looking forward to trying to get a weekly nurse service in conjunction with telehealth to operate from the hub to complement the doctor visits.

“We are so lucky as a community to have this wonderful service,” she said.


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