2021 Spring/Summer Mildura Health Newsletter


Local Health Fund freezes premium increase for six months

Mildura Health Fund (MHF) has announced that they will freeze their approved 1 April 2022 premium increase for six months to return claims savings back to their members due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mildura Health Chief Executive Officer, Gerard Op de Coul said, “As a not for profit, member owned health fund, we made a commitment to our members that we would not profit from COVID-19 and that savings in claims would be returned to members through a range of initiatives.”

“Our focus since the start of the pandemic has been to support our members wherever possible. This has been demonstrated by deferring the 2020 premium increase for six months, rolling over unused general treatment benefit limits from 2021 to 2022 and now by deferring the 2022 premium increase for six months.”

The premium freeze is on top of other support already provided by MHF to their members during the pandemic, these include the introduction of telehealth services, benefits paid towards COVID-19 related hospitalisation and a COVID-19 financial hardship package for members facing direct financial challenges due to the pandemic.

“We understand that lockdowns and restrictions have affected our members ability to access health services reducing their capacity to claim against their health insurance policy” he said.

Mr. Op de Coul said that the organisation would continue to monitor future claiming trends and if savings arise, they will be proactively seek ways to support members.

“It is hard to quantify and predict when the catch up in claims will occur, and whilst there has been a reduction in some clinical areas, the Fund has seen an increase in claims in mental health and telehealth services”, he added.


Mildura Health Private Hospital Investing for the future needs of the community

Mildura Health Private Hospital (MHPH) is investing in delivering even greater care to the local community with a 12-million-dollar upgrade of the facility now underway that is expected to help attract more specialists to our region.

MHPH is creating two dedicated endoscopy theatres from the existing theatre footprint and building three new operating theatres. To compliment the operating theatre design, both stage 1 and 2 recovery areas will have increased bed numbers with an open plan layout for improved clinical oversight. The works will entail construction of a new Central Sterilization Store Department aligned with changing regulations. The project also improves the hospital’s bulk store capacity, staff change rooms and staff tearoom. Along with this, there will be a new 44 space car park and pedestrian crossing for MHPH staff.

MHPH Chief Executive Officer, Marcus Guthrie said “The hospital has completed detailed modelling of current and future patient activity based on regional population growth and an ageing population. This detailed strategic planning shows us that there is a need for an increased medical workforce along with an expansion of the operating theatre complex. This is on top of an increasing number of patient’s using the hospital’s services up 6% on the previous financial years admissions as a result of the hospital attracting more specialists to the region allowing patients to avoid needing to travel for their treatment.”

This upgrade is timely with the increase of procedures being performed at MHPH. Recent data from the last financial year has highlighted that the number of hip replacements performed at the hospital have doubled from the previous financial year. One of the reasons for this is the result of successful surgical recruitment to the area giving local residents greater choice and range of services that can be performed locally.

Local resident, Phil Kettle recently had a hip replacement at MHPH with Associate Professor (AP) Rickman who is a visiting specialist from Adelaide.

“I was referred to AP Rickman from my GP Dr. Gleeson. From the moment I spoke with AP Rickman I had a feeling of confidence that I was going to be looked after properly. Prior to meeting AP Rickman, I did some research, and I was very pleased to see a specialist with his credentials visit Mildura.

“Within a few days I was out of hospital, and I was able to walk 200 meters, then 1 km the day following, and I felt great, said Mr. Kettle.

“The overall experience from start to finish was exceptional. The treatment and care at MHPH was faultless and the care and expertise provided by AP Rickman prior and after the procedure was great. The personal follow up from AP Rickman’s room and MHPH has been fantastic.

Mr. Kettle added “People from the region say that when you need something major done you need to go to Adelaide or Melbourne to get better treatment. But I can say that I do not believe I could have received better treatment out of town, than what I receive here, in Mildura.

Mr. Guthrie said, “More work needs to be done in recruiting specialists to the area, however with the investment in new perioperative services department design, it will make recruitment of specialists less problematic. We are also working closely with the local public hospital in doing joint recruitment of specialists to the area, in particular Physicians. This will allow for an easier transfer of private patients out of public hospital, freeing up beds for public patients. A win win for the whole community.

“Further announcements will also be made soon regarding the Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre which is expected to start building by the end of this year”, added Mr Guthrie.

Mildura Health announces Mildura’s first radiation oncology service

We all know someone who has been impacted by cancer and we are proud to announce that Mildura Health will be building a purpose-built cancer radiation treatment centre in partnership with Icon who is a leader in cancer treatment and research in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.

Construction of the new Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre will begin soon with the new multi-million-dollar development set to deliver radiation cancer treatment to our local community. The centre will be built on the grounds of Mildura Health Private Hospital and will have the capacity to deliver 9000 radiation therapy treatments each year, offering precise and complex treatment for more than 500 patients annually.

Mildura Health Fund Chief Executive Officer, Gerard Op de Coul says “This is a major health announcement for our region and was only possible due to the support of our 34,500 loyal members. Being a member of Mildura Health Fund is more than just about Private Health Insurance. Your support has enabled us to bring vital health services to this town. Mildura Health supports the local community, not shareholders.

“It has been a five-year journey. When we originally looked at providing this service locally it became obvious to us that we did not have the resources or the knowhow to provide such a service. Radiation treatment is extremely complex and is evolving at such a rapid pace that partnership with a large provider who specialises in this field is needed. This is why we chose the ICON group. They are the largest provider of these services Australia wide, providing these services in many of Australia’s leading Private Hospital’s such as Epworth Healthcare and Healthscope private hospitals,” said Mr Op de Coul.

Icon Group Chief Executive Officer, Mark Middleton said “With both cancer incidence and mortality in Mildura ranking higher than the Victorian average, we know how important access to cancer treatment is for the local community. No longer will cancer patients need to travel long distances away from loved ones to access the care they need or face financial and emotional stress over what can be months of treatment.”

Mildura Health Private Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Marcus Guthrie says “As Mildura Health Private Hospital continues to deliver exceptional care to the Mildura region, we look forward to expanding our available cancer care services and facilities in partnership with Icon Group and offering medical oncology to more patients upon opening. This cancer centre will ensure patients can receive cancer treatment locally to help ease the emotional, financial and social burden of travelling for care.”

“This could not have happened without the support of the Federal Government, Victorian State Government, Icon Group and our loyal and valued members. I would like to personally thank all involved in making this vision a reality” Mr Op de Coul added.

It is anticipated the Centre will be completed in late 2021 and will be accessible to both public and private patients alike.

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