Mid North Coast LHD Director of Allied Health and Integrated Care, Bronwyn Chalker, UCRH Research Fellow, Dr Jennifer Johnston, PMBH ED Director, Dr Steven Ross, PMBH Registered Nurse, Colleen Boyd and UCRH Lead Researcher Dr Megan Passey. Photo: Lynn Lelean, MNC LHD.

In a milestone trial starting in the Mid North Coast, chronic disease patients admitted to hospital will be participating in research to evaluate how the number of admissions might be reduced.

The four-month Diagnosing Potentially Preventable Hospitalisations (DaPPHne) project is being conducted by the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast. The project is in partnership with and funded by the Mid North Coast Local Health District, the North Coast NSW Medicare Local, and the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation. The University of Western Sydney is also involved.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr Megan Passey said the research will focus primarily on patients at Port Macquarie Base and Coffs Harbour Hospitals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive, or chronic, heart failure (CHF), diabetes complications and angina. These chronic conditions affect many older people.

Lismore City Council has decided to include cycling safety as part of the CBD traffic study, which will be undertaken in 2015. One possible initiative could be introducing dedicated cycling lanes in or around the CBD.

The decision follows a motion at this week’s council meeting by Greens’ councillor Vanessa Ekins who cited safety grounds as the reason for considering marked bike lanes and driver education.

In recent months a number of cycling accidents have occurred in the Northern Rivers, some of them serious, although mostly on out-of-town roads. The risks of cycling are highlighted in the current issue of GP Speak.

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Concern about the ramifications of the $7.00 co-payment increased this week. 

The
Sydney Morning Herald quotes Sydney Local Health District CEO, Teresa Anderson, on the expected increase in patient presentations to emergency departments as a result of the federal government’s proposed co-payment. There is also a fear that patients, particularly from lower socio-economic groups, will delay seeking medical care until their condition has deteriorated and as a result place an increased burden on the public health system. 

This echoes the views of Northern NSW LHD CEO, 
Chris Crawford, in GPSpeak in June this year. He noted the tightening of future budgets due to a number of factors, including the loss of substantial revenue from formerly bulk billed radiology and pathology services.

Dr Betty Marks, Image courtesy of Tweed Daily News

Registrar Dr Nispa Krongkaew pays tribute to her Supervisor, Dr Betty Marks, the North Coast medical legend who retired recently at the age of 90.

This year marked the end of an era for Murwillumbah, and the Northern Rivers, when Dr Betty Marks, the longest serving doctor in town, hung up her stethoscope and celebrated her retirement at the age of 90, after devoting 66 years of her life to patient care. The retirement party, held on 19 July at the Murwillumbah Golf Club, received over 200 attendees.

Dr Betty, as she is affectionately known, is a living legend. After graduating from Sydney University in 1948, Dr Marks (nee McEwan) worked in Sydney for five years before moving to Murwillumbah with her late husband, Dr Jim Marks.

A true general practitioner and family doctor, Dr Betty has treated local patients and families over four generations, delivered over 1,000 babies, given countless anaesthetics, attended all emergencies and performed house calls any time of day or night. Only recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a 97-year old lady - still proud to tell the story 60 years on - who underwent a nephrectomy operation in 1954 performed by Drs Jim and Betty Marks.

The New England Journal of Medicine has recently published the St Louis Contraceptive CHOICE Project results. The study found that LARCs offered at no cost as part of a contraceptive education program were the most popular. The use of an intrauterine contraceptive device or implant reduced the pregnancy rate by 80%. Births and abortion rates were reduced by a similar percentage.