Judy Hollingworth, founder and chair of Manning Valley Push for Palliative (MVP4P) is ecstatic that Manning Base Hospital now has a permanent palliative care specialist, Dr Arron Veltre, on staff.
"It was five years of advocacy, saying this was a resource that we need," Judy said.
"Sometimes magic happens. The wish and the will of various people comes to together.
"And it was a huge will from the whole community.
"The health practitioner community really wanted this badly, and we were the community group that was able to speak it and annunciate it and articulate it and propose it in a way that the internal bureaucracy can't."
An announcement welcoming Dr Veltre as the new palliative care specialist was made at the hospital on Tuesday, March 2.
"Dr Veltre came with experience in palliative medicine which is something we desperately needed over the years," Manning Base Hospital clinical services director, Dr Osama Ali said.
"We've been advocating for it, and as soon as we saw the opportunity we seized it."
Although Dr Veltre has been working in the position on a temporary basis since April 2020, the position has now become permanent. However, it is only a part time position for now.
When not working at the hospital, Dr Veltre also works as the clinical dean for the University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health, College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing, Manning Campus.
Dr Veltre, originally a rural GP, relocated to the Manning from Brisbane where he specialised in palliative care.
He brought with him a passion for palliative care and rural and Indigenous medicine.
He says he has a strong interest in providing equity of access for people in palliative care, and medicine in rural areas, and that was one of the things that attracted him to the area.
"And it also meant that I could also have an association with the university so that I could help to gain, train and retain the next generation of the medical workforce, and that was something that I think is very important," Dr Veltre said.
"I worked a lot in both urban and remote Indigenous communities as a general practitioner.
"Being an area with a population of three times the national average of Indigenous people, I think it is really important that we do provide as much access as possible, so I'm working collaboratively with both the university and the health service to try and include both Tobwabba and Biripi as places that we can collaborate with in order to increase access."
Dr Veltre is excited at the scope the newly created position gives him to build the service, and aims to improve outcomes and access to people throughout our region.
"It means that I can actually have an influence on making a contribution and a difference to this community," Dr Veltre said.
I think it's a win for palliative care patients in the community.Dr Arron Veltre
"I think it's a win for palliative care patients in the community. I also think it's a win for palliative care providers within the community because I can provide, and we can provide as a service, support for them.
"Also I think the other big win is for medical students who come to this community, because then they can get exposure and experience with palliative care that they might not have got in another rural area, and that means they could potentially be part of the service in future."
Another positive Dr Veltre's appointment brings is the new interest other medical professionals in the region are showing in palliative care, now there is a passionate specialist on board.
Palliative Care clinical nurse specialist, Sally Drury says that in the short term Dr Veltre has been working at the hospital, they have had a lot of interest from local registrars currently working in GP clinics and practices who are wishing to further their training in palliative care. Because he is local, Dr Veltre would be able to supervise their training.
Hopefully this will help us attract more resources to the area and help us support expanding the service and care and leadership of Dr Veltre.Dr Osama Ali
"He's already securing an accreditation for Manning Base Hospital to deliver Advanced Skills Training in palliative care, and the hospital is supporting Dr Veltre to secure further specialist palliative care training and education programs in the future," Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead said.
"Dr Veltre is a very well respected and liked colleague within the hospital, a staff member that is well recognised by all medical and non medical staff here and we value his input as a clinician leader within the hospital, something that we also aspire to build within our junior doctors - he is an exemplar," Dr Ali said.
"We are very happy to have him around and we look forward to him continuing the service and expanding our palliative services.
"Hopefully this will help us attract more resources to the area and help us support expanding the service and care and leadership of Dr Veltre."
Dr Arron Veltre will be giving a speech, Palliative care needs and services in Manning-Great Lakes area - 2021-2024, at the MVP4P AGM at Club Taree on Tuesday, March 16 from 6pm to 7pm.