The arrival of two new GPs at a medical clinic in St Helens has helped the town move away from the reliance on locums, while giving an opportunity to provide more targeted healthcare and education in areas of need.
Dr Michael Fox and Dr Kara Landon have taken up permanent positions at Ochre Medical Centre, the first additions since the start of COVID, effectively doubling the clinic's GP cohort.
They will also provide assistance for the St Helens District Hospital and Community Centre, and spend time working at Ochre's on-site respiratory clinic, which has carried out almost 400 assessments for people experiencing COVID symptoms.
Dr Landon has worked in emergency, ICU and retrieval medicine at Launceston General Hospital since arriving from the UK in 2013.
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She was eager to improve the health outcomes of St Helens residents, particularly in regards to mental health and LGBTIQ health.
COVID had further highlighted the importance of mental health in rural and regional communities where people could often feel isolated, particularly at a time of heightened stress and anxiety, Dr Landon said.
"I appreciate the role that a rural GP can play in supporting the mental health needs of rural and regional communities, as they have the opportunity to cultivate longitudinal relationships with patients," she said.
"I feel that a rural GP can also provide invaluable education around women's and LGBT health, which is also often much needed in these areas."
Dr Fox had previously worked as a locum in St Helens, and was pleased to be able to make his move permanent - particularly to be able to further explore the East Coast's natural wonders.
"One of the things I have enjoyed most about my time as a locum in St Helens was getting to see another part of the Tasmanian wilderness while pursuing my interests in lifestyle and musculoskeletal medicine, as St Helens is an adventurer's paradise," he said.
"In fact, I became so fond of St Helens I eventually bought a 60-acre bush block so my wife and I could visit on weekends.
"We increasingly found neither of us wanted to go home, which is why we have now stationed ourselves here permanently."
Dr Fox initially worked as a physiotherapist for 20 years before switching to medicine.
The Ochre clinic has long relied on locums, but practice manager Alison Young said having two new permanent GPs would be a great boost for St Helens and the region more generally.