Coffs Harbour is fortunate to have a specialist Refugee Clinic on its health campus to provide a comprehensive health service for new arrived humanitarian refugees. The clinic has seven GPs working in rotation, but it’s calling out for more local GPs to care for its patients.
The clinic is particularly looking for GPs willing to take refugees into their practice as permanent patients.
Currently a GP clinic is run on Monday afternoons, but with more GPs, this could expand to at least three half days a week.
Around 300 refugees settled around Coffs Harbour in 2017 and this year the area has welcomed 330 refugees.
The clinic was established in 2006 due to the efforts of Clinical Nurse Consultant Michele Greenwood, the seven GPs and Director of Public Health for the Local Health District, Paul Corben. They realised the need for a specialist clinic to care for the specific health needs of refugees.
Michele explained that at the Refugee Health Clinic nurses conduct an initial health assessment of each person, make referrals to a range of services and conduct immunisation clinics for catchup vaccinations.
“GPs then review bloods, carry out a clinical examination and organise prescriptions and referrals. Our nurses coordinate all follow-up appointments, have medications dispensed and explained using interpreters” she said.
Since 2000 there have been waves of refugees from different parts of the world. Coffs Harbour and surrounds have seen arrivals from Myanmar (Burma), eight African countries, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
Michele said the most recent arrivals were a family of six from Iraq. Over the past two years most new arrivals have been from Iraq.
Paul Corben said the clinic was an important step in welcoming refugees to the area.
“The main purpose of the clinic is to attend to peoples’ immediate health needs so they can focus on building happy and healthy lives in Australia.”
If you are interested in working at the clinic or in taking refugees into your practice, please call Michele on (02) 6656 7676.