New health initiative for Katanning
Gladys Wells officially opened the Southern Inland Health Initiative project last Friday with executive director Dr Melissa Vernon, far left, Katanning medical professional Betty Watson, left, and SIHI Katanning co-ordinator Raquel Willis, right.

Katanning and surrounding towns will have a new base for country health after the Southern Inland Health Initiative office opened its doors at Wells House last week.

Central Great Southern District Health Advisory Council chairwoman and former Katanning Hospital Employee of the Year Gladys Wells officially cut the ribbon on Friday.

Mrs Wells, who Wells House is named after, has provided health services to the community for more than 50 years.

“I enjoyed working in every area, very much so, and to see the development over the years has been magnificent,” she said.

The new facilities are part of a $565 million Southern Inland Health Initiative project, funded by Royalties for Regions, that is building on the capacity of Primary Health Services.

The aim is to increase community services to keep people healthy and out of hospital, and allow them to return home with medical support using new technology.

Executive director of Primary Health and Engagement Dr Melissa Vernon, whose role is to liaise with health-care providers across the region and engage various stakeholders, said it was important to take advantage of new technology and educate patients on their conditions.

“It is important to have a community-based nurse to help patients better manage their health,” she said. “We want to improve the management of their health.”

Through 2011-12 the program has focused on increasing the medical workforce in the area by attracting trained international staff to the region an boosting the services in these areas.

The new SIHI project will also focus on increasing access to health services and decreasing duplication and waste.

The project is expected to be completed by 2014.

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