Machine means better results

State of the art: Jan Riley, left, Peter Spence and Carol Banks with the new phototherapy unit that will be used to treat people with chronic skin conditions.
State of the art: Jan Riley, left, Peter Spence and Carol Banks with the new phototherapy unit that will be used to treat people with chronic skin conditions. Trevor Veale

IT cost $60,000 and will help long-suffering Coffs Coast residents with chronic skin conditions.

A newly-installed ultraviolet-B phototherapy unit now takes pride of place at a specialist outreach clinic at the Jetty, run by the Mid North Coast Division of General Practice.

“UVB provides management of psoriasis, eczema and a variety of itchy skin conditions and provides my patients with much more affordable and appropriate long-term care options,” said dermatologist Dr Rod Hannaford.

Clinic co-ordinator Carol Banks said the new equipment meant local patients had access to state-of-the-art care.

“It saves on costs of accessing care elsewhere or alternative pharmaceutical therapies, which may have considerable side effects,” she said.

This builds on a growing list of visiting medical specialist services introduced to the region by the division of general practice.

“The Mid North Coast Division of General Practice has attracted and supported visiting specialist services previously unavailable to the Mid North Coast community while also providing specialist equipment for neurologists and dermatologists,” said Dr Harriett Playle, who chairs the division.

“This supports local GPs to provide their patients with better access to specialist care without incurring the high costs of travelling elsewhere or not having access to services at all.”

In 2001, the division won federal funding to support the provision of visiting dermatologist and rheumatologist specialist services to Coffs Harbour.

“Our CEO at the time, Dr Mark Elvy, showed considerable insight in developing a unique and successful service model which we have since leveraged off to introduce further specialist services – 14 visiting specialists in total – in dermatology, psychiatry, neurology, respiratory and urology providers to the Mid North Coast,” said the division’s CEO, Peter Spence.

“We have developed and delivered these services in collaboration with the area health service, NSW Rural Doctors Network and local support groups such as the Parkinson’s Disease support group.

“While each visiting service has been made possible with funding from the Commonwealth Government, our organisation has subsidised the program considerably to ensure the long-term success of the outreach services, while adding much needed equipment for the community.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, we take a considerable risk in underwriting many of the additional specialist services not covered by program funding, yet the huge benefits to the community are worthwhile.

“We are limited by our own fundraising efforts to introduce further services so any financial support that local business and the community can provide us with would be appreciated, as it all goes back into caring for the community.”

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