As floodwaters begin to recede and communities count the cost of the recent weather, Healthy North Coast is turning its focus toward recovery and the mental health and wellbeing of residents.
Over the past week and a half, Healthy North Coast has been working closely with the local primary care health workforce to support flood-affected communities.
Chief Executive Julie Sturgess said 11 evacuation centres were established on the North Coast during the floods. Healthy North Coast communicated daily with the emergency operations team, linking general practice, pharmacy and mental health services into the emergency response.
“The evacuation centres supported people with a range of health needs,” Ms Sturgess said. “We know that many in our communities will now be working through a long recovery process.”
She said that at the State Emergency Service’s Port Macquarie evacuation centre, Healthy North Coast provided a clinical psychologist to support first responder volunteers.
“We also have a Healthy Minds program that has been updated to provide priority psychological support for people in flood-affected areas without the need for GP referral,” Ms Sturgess said.
“The program is free, with up to 10 sessions available. Residents can call Connect to Wellbeing on 1300 160 339 who will be able to help people enrol in the program. Importantly, health professionals as well as community members can access Healthy Minds support.”
Connect to Wellbeing also has online and print resources around mental health recovery after a disaster.
Ms Sturgess said that in coming months, ongoing mental health support would be available through telehealth and face-to-face sessions for residents affected by flooding.
“Floods can affect everyone in the community, not only people directly dealing with loss of property or possessions,” she said.
“We will continue to work closely with our primary care workforce and communities to support their immediate, short- and long-term recovery needs.”
At the beginning of the week, Healthy North Coast also launched a 24-hour GP telehealth service to support people who are unable to arrange a visit or access telehealth from their regular GP.
Residents in flood-affected areas can phone the service on 1800 931 158 to organise a phone or video appointment any day of the week.
Healthy North Coast has also arranged temporary exemption from the Australian Government requirement that GPs can only perform telehealth if they have an established clinical relationship with the patient.
This means that people in flood-impacted areas can also access a telehealth appointment with a local GP even if they are not a regular patient of the practice. People can use the postcode checker on our website to find out if they are eligible.
Some local general practices may also be offering extended opening hours over the coming days — contact your local GP if you need to make an appointment.
Healthy North Coast funds Connect to Wellbeing through the North Coast Primary Health Network program, an Australian Government initiative. It is not a crisis service. For immediate 24/7 support contact:
In an emergency call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
Free 24-hour GP Telehealth Service for People Affected by Floods (or Flood-impacted Communities)
Any AHPRA or AASW registered mental health practitioner providing services in the Mid North Coast and/or Northern NSW.
By listing, you will let GPs, other referrers and consumers know that you are practising in Mid North Coast and/or Northern NSW. You can provide information such as where you are located, the services you provide, the population groups you support and your clinical interests.
No, the directory is a free service provided by Healthy North Coast.
This directory enables you to provide real-time information about your availability to accept referrals, as well as how long people may have to wait for an appointment. You can update this information as your availability changes. This will help GPs and other referrers ensure they only refer clients to practitioners who have the capacity to see them.
It also has a range of advanced search options and supports printing and bookmarking of search results.
You can choose to display your email address and your phone number so that people can contact you directly. You may prefer not to display these, in which case people can contact you by completing an enquiry form located in the Directory. Your choices can be updated anytime.
You can indicate wait times for an appointment for a new client or that you are currently unable to accept new referrals. You can also choose whether to display or hide your contact details. You can update your choices at any time.
Yes, you can update your listing or remove it at any time by clicking the “update practitioner details” button on your listing. You will receive a secure website link to your nominated admin email that will enable you to make changes, delete or put your listing on hold. You can also show when you are taking extended leave or are not available for a specific period, rather than completely removing your listing.
We will also send you an email every three months (90 days) prompting you to check that your information is up to date.
You will be responsible for managing the information in your listing and ensuring that it is up to date. You will also be asked to check the information before it is published in the directory.
We will also send you an email every three months (90 days) prompting you to check that your information is up to date so that the directory displays accurate information.