The first rural and remote subacute service; inception to implementation

Helen Wassman1, Elaine Heffernan2

1South West Hospital and Health Service , 197 – 234 McDowall St 4455
2South West Hospital and Health Service , 197 – 234 McDowall St 4455

The South West Hospital and Health Service (SWHHS) covers 319,870 square km and provides services to an estimated population of over 27,000 people.  The Service consists of 11 hospitals, four outpatient clinics, two residential aged care facilities and two community health centres.  In order to provide increased subacute access to the people in the SWHHS a new 7 bed sub-acute care unit at Roma Hospital commenced in 2014. It was the first such unit to be established within a Queensland Health rural and remote Hospital and Health Service. The Subacute Rehabilitation Unit provides rehabilitation, transition care, geriatric evaluation and management, stroke, psychogeriatric and palliative services. The unit has a hub-spoke relationship with major secondary and tertiary hospitals. There is a committed telehealth model in place with geriatrician support. This unique unit did not spring up overnight. To make our dream a reality it took time to identify need, as well as research to create our model. Our successes to date have come through a united vision of a dedicated and diverse group of clinicians working towards our single purpose, to deliver high quality care safely in our local communities. This presentation seeks to outline the challenges and opportunities the Subacute Service faced from inception to implementation. Building a new health service in rural and remote Queensland has not been without its challenges. The result now is, however, a valuable, responsive and resourceful service that would not exist without the partnership between the community and the South West Hospital Health Service.


Helen Wassman Service Director,Community & Allied Health Adult Services RomaI have more than 30 years’ experience as an occupational therapist in hospital and community settings. More recently, I completed postgraduate studies in palliative care at Flinders University. I relocated to South West Queensland three years ago to gain further experience in rural and remote healthcare and prior to this I worked at the Royal Darwin Hospital. I am motivated by the desire to constantly find better ways to deliver health services and to ask ‘what is possible’. The patient experience is the forefront of quality health care.

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