Bushfire GPs make do with basics as reality bites
TWO small temporary buildings in the centre of a muddy paddock are now housing the most basic of medical services for residents of Kinglake, whose homes and community were devastated by the Victorian bushfires earlier this year.
One building houses a reception area and consulting room, the other a waiting room. Heating has only recently been added. However, despite the inadequacies, GPs providing the service all agree that having a presence in the town is vital.
Semi-retired GP Dr Lexia Bryant, from nearby Kangaroo Ground, spends one day a week in Kinglake and is coordinating a group of nine GPs that has committed to maintaining a five-day-a-week service for at least 12-18 months until a permanent doctor can be found.
The need for counselling and GP services was high, she said.
“We’re moving from the high-adrenaline phase, where everyone has been heroic in one way or another, attended funerals, really working hard and pulling together, to a different stage where reality hits,” she said.
Dr Bryant is hopeful the medical centre will soon move to larger buildings, which will provide a sense of permanency for the community.
Initially, GPs volunteered their time, but consulting away from their own surgeries is now being covered by the Federal Government.
Rosebud GP Dr Simon Pilbrow spends one day a fortnight at the clinic and sees around 30 patients a day. He said their needs were complex, and the group aimed to roster at least two doctors a day.
“No-one who has survived has not been affected – plus you’re doing normal general practice on top of [problems associated with] the fires. It’s added to what was already there,” he said.