THE Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD) held the first of a series of community consultation forums in Cooma last week, which will help direct the development of a five year Monaro health plan.
Local health officials facilitated the forum at the Cooma Hotel on Thursday, June 12, seeking a range of opinions for their five year Clinical Services Plan for Monaro health services.
Residents raised a number of concerns throughout the forum focusing on; Cooma Hospital and Health Service improving their communications with the public and the need for increased health services to based in Cooma.
One gentleman spoke of the need to increase the ways people can access information into the services available at Cooma Hospital. He said people only became aware of the services the hospital provides when they require that particular service.
Zoe Harris, the Manager of Health Services Planning for the SNSWLHD, agreed more needs to be done to help those who are unable to access information online and may miss out on valuable information.
"From this we need to get better at advertising our services, our planning will go a long way to addressing this," Ms Harris said.
"We need to improve our communication."
The plan takes in the Cooma-Monaro, Bombala and Snowy River Shires, providing the opportunity to review population needs against current service capacity. From this the SNSWLHD will tailor their services to meet the expected needs of the community till 2019 and beyond.
Ms Harris presented a regional profile of the Monaro and discussed how this will shape the planning for future health services.
"The median ages are: 38 years for the Snowy River LGA, 43 years in Cooma and 46 years in Bombala," Ms Harris said.
"The forum allowed people, especially the elderly to come along and raise their concerns."
A number of people wished to make it clear that they felt the hospital's services were generally well received by patients and the community. One lady said the Cooma maternity unit is the 'jewel in the crown' of regional health services and is respected across the Monaro.
Hazel Mackenzie-Kaye, a retired bush nurse attended the forum and believes it failed to generate a positive outcome.
"If you want ideas it's better to hand out a sheet of paper for feedback, there were lots of people who wanted to have their say but didn't have much to say at all," Ms Mackenzie-Haye said.