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EditorialLiving Well

Safe hands.

Why a dynamic and inclusive healthcare system is needed to catch us when life goes pear-shape.

Sep 21, 2022


Words: Tim Leeson
Images: Anshu A

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We’ve known each other for a while. For some, you’ve been tuning into this page for nearly six years.

Not only does Gippslandia aim to share sterling stories from our region, but we seek to bring some new ideas back in: insights and concepts from elsewhere that have the potential to shake things up or improve Gippsland.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve all chatted about health and wellbeing way more than we did previously, and it’s provided us with glimpses into our physical and mental health that we likely weren’t previously aware of.

That’s partly why this edition is exploring the ideas of health and wellbeing in our region. It’s an opportunity to listen and learn, to hear of both the challenges and opportunities that Gippsland’s health care system currently faces. Gratefully, we found a diverse group of people open to sharing their experiences and acumen.

Ever the poster-gent for virile masculinity, I was a crumpled pile of scrubs on the floor.

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This process made me note some of the health-related ideas that have gotten my attention recently.

Firstly, I was previously a member of a medical aid or health insurance company that was wholeheartedly focused on keeping me healthy, so that I’d never need them. My gym membership was discounted by 80%. I’d receive a 25% discount or cashback on all fruit and vegetable purchases. A 25%–75% discount on shoes or exercise equipment. Wear a fitness tracker or smartwatch and get more discounts. In fact, the more data you provided about yourself, the more you were rewarded. Even their app was gamified to entice you to be healthier.

To me, it verged on being overly ‘techy’ and I had some boundaries on how much information I shared, but I could really see the benefits I was receiving for my monthly contribution. And, they were items that helped me to live more healthily. It did kinda feel as though me and this multinational corporation were in it together – partners in my health – in some way.

Secondly, during the pandemic, I learnt about doctors in Cuba.

In Cuba, the doctors in the public health system do not have access to the full suite of equipment and services that we enjoy here. Yet, they can achieve admirable public health outcomes due to their focus on primary health care and prevention.

One aspect of their approach that stuck with me was the apparent importance placed on listening and the patient–doctor relationship. A doctor is expected to have such tight rapport with their patients that the patient will want to greet their doctor in the street, even hug them with the familiarity of friends.

Have you ever hugged your doctor?

Would your doctor hug you?

This aspect of ‘care’ became increasingly apparent upon regularly hearing that people in Gippsland (and elsewhere) have been scheduling doctor appointments just to talk to someone.

Heading to a general practitioner to gain the basic human need of conversation. To be heard.

It’s a realisation that’s tough for me to write.

But, in speaking with Latrobe Health Advocate Jane Anderson, I was heartened by the fact that she (and others) are listening to our community and their health-related issues and championing change.

My belief now is that we, human-people, need doctors or the medical industry to survive, but that we need healthy communities and connection to really thrive, and that should be our larger aim.

Now, to draw an extremely long bow, I’ll segue that to the Gippslandia team. For this edition, we’ve been very fortunate to have Emma Hearnes on the editing team, assisting us in refining this issue. To have our wonderful contributors and her clicking when creating this release has been damn cool. The new connections made resulted in a much more enjoyable creative process for us all. Thriving.

Returning to the opening sentence, we’ve built some rapport over the years, I hope.

We all know that human bodies can be as weird, odd and hilarious as they are beautiful.

Several years ago, I headed into a hospital for a procedure. Specifics aren’t required, but I needed general anaesthesia and as I was prepped for surgery the bed I was to be rolled in on became unexpectedly occupied. I was asked if I could walk into theatre. “No problems!” I confidently replied.

Three steps later, my field of vision rapidly shrunk. Then it disappeared. I fainted.

Ever the poster-gent for virile masculinity, I was a crumpled pile of scrubs on the floor.

Underneath me though was a valiant, and much smaller, nurse, who I came to realise had flung herself between me and the ground as I collapsed, catching my head mere centimetres above the floor.

After I came to, and copped some justifiable flak, I was struck by the level of care our health care workers are willing to provide.

Through Gippslandia #24, we highlight the rapidly evolving health industry in the region, but more than anything I reckon we show you how much we have to have each other’s backs (especially those of us fond of fainting).

Gippslandia - Issue No. 24

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