Ulong, the Eastern Dorrigo mountain plateau village, has the services of a doctor for the first time in over 20 years

Dr Jay Ruthnam, Lisa Taffe and Carol Cleary,with Mayor Denise Knight cutting the ribbon officially opening the Ulong Health Hub. Photo: Rebecca Ludstrom.

 

THE OPENING of the Ulong Health Hub on Tuesday April 14 is the realisation of a five-year vision for local resident and chief proponent, Carol Cleary, whose village hasn’t had a GP for over 20 years.

Carol and hubby 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&B and gas distributor, they are open all week and they hear everyone’s health plight.

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Carol told News Of The Area, “If anything major happens people have to call an ambulance which takes time, coming from Coffs.

“In fact, on the day the Health Hub opened we had a resident with a medical issue and was able to see Dr Ruthnam straight away.

“Afterwards she thanked me, saying if it wasn’t for the hub opening, she doesn’t know what would have happened.”

Another tireless driver of the campaign TAFE NSW Head Teacher Health, Nursing and Aged Care, Lisa Taffe, who supplies nurses from TAFE NSW to the region and knows their plight first-hand.

The nurses journey up the mountain twice a month, to provide blood pressure and health checks for the residents of the Eastern Dorrigo area.

Big changes began when Healthy North Coast (HNC) provided $10,000 funding to build the clinical space within the Ulong Hall in 2018.

They also supplied two dedicated laptops for Telehealth which connects residents with doctors at the HNC practice, a fridge for medicines and specimens, thermometers, blood pressure monitors and oxygen gauges.

Capping off the good news and crucial to the health hub’s success is the commitment of Northside Health GP Jay Ruthnam to providing monthly bulk-billed, face-to-face consultations in Ulong.

Ulong Health Hub operates out of Ulong Hall in conjunction with Lisa Taffe and her TAFE NSW nurses providing a fortnightly nursing service scheduled for two weeks after Dr Ruthnam’s regular visit.

“I was so overwhelmed by the response from all the Allied Health Professionals who journeyed from as far north as Lismore and south to Forster to attend our launch day and speak to our community members,” said Carol.

 

By Andrea FERRARI

 

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