Thirteen years ago, Bryce and I began working with a GP in Wyoming. This GP, Dr Rodney Beckwith, had a strong vision for multi-disciplinary practice which aligned with Bryce and Angus’ ideas on integrated care. After a few years of growing a multidisciplinary centre together Bryce suggested to Dr Beckwith that he apply for funding from the Federal Government to establish a GP Super Clinic on the Central Coast. Dr Beckwith’s application won the $7 million in funding, and so 10 years ago, we embarked on a truly transformative journey by joining the Reliance GP Super Clinic.
When the GP Super Clinic opened Bryce and I had 7 rooms and 3 chiropractors (Angus, Bryce, and Dennis), supported by two part-time radiographers. Downstairs with us were 18 GP rooms and 4 Nurse rooms. Upstairs there was a group of specialists, some psychologists, a dietitian, and a podiatrist, run by Coastal Specialist Suites. Also upstairs was a physiotherapy group and an exercise physiology clinic. Although we were all filled with some trepidation, and we had probably bitten off more than we could chew in terms of leasing costs, we were also very excited because we believed deeply in our model of care, one that emphasised the integration of general practitioners and allied health services.
From the very start our patients embraced the concept of the Super Clinic wholeheartedly. They appreciated the convenience of having all their health needs met under one roof, leading to a flood of patients seeking care from both GPs and allied health practitioners. We were even called upon after hours to assist the GPs in X-raying broken limbs, actively participating in patient triage and alleviating the pressure on the public hospital system.
As the word spread, patient demand grew rapidly, and soon we found ourselves overwhelmed with the sheer number of patients seeking our services. There wasn’t time for Bryce and me to be running around taking X-rays anymore. We had to recruit additional practitioners to meet the rising needs. We were soon joined by a variety of others, including massage two massage therapists.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. For at least the first few days (or maybe the first week) we had no phones working or internet, and everything had to be done by mobile phone. We also discovered that any room that had a window was an invitation for the sun to incinerate the occupants, so we quickly had to find a blind solution. Other dramas occurred in those early years, including a mischievous specialist clinic practice manager who ended up going to jail for a plethora of Medicare fraud sins she had committed prior to joining us. I’m not going to lie— that was a shocking surprise!
We gradually grew over the next few years, taking over podiatry, dietetics and expanding our own offerings of practitioners. In this first 10 years of the Super Clinic we are proud to say that we have provided more than 330,000 patient consultations, with a database of over 52,000 patients. Remarkably, considering the Central Coast’s population of 348,000 people, it means that approximately 1 in 7 Central Coast residents have experienced our clinic’s care at some point. I believe that the number for the medical arm of the Super Clinic is close to a million patients.
We are now a team of 8 chiropractors (one of whom is also an acupuncturist), 6 massage therapists (two of which are also lymphoedema therapists), 3 podiatrists, a naturopath, a physiotherapist, a team of radiographers, and 3 DEXA technicians.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, our integrated care model continues to earn the admiration of our patients. We are determined to reinstate the fantastic communication and collegiate atmosphere among the Super Clinic family, which we’ve missed during these trying times.
A part of the Super Clinic that I have particularly enjoyed (prior to COVID) is our monthly education sessions. I have learned a lot by hearing from GPs, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and outside specialists, and gained even more by having to prepare and present, myself. It has been a wonderful thing to be in a setting where we leave our degrees at the door and collaborate for the benefit of our patients.
While the accomplishments of the Super Clinic Health Professionals had a significant impact on the wellbeing of Central Coast locals, we know that the true heroes of this remarkable journey are our supporting staff. They diligently answer phones, warmly greet patients, bid them farewell, and ensure everyone feels welcome throughout their road to recovery. We understand that people come and go, especially as some of our front desk staff are students or embark on motherhood, but we cherish their contributions while they’re with us and wish them well on their future endeavours.
To Reliance, our partner on this journey, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for hosting and supporting us through thick and thin, even when our priorities or ideas differed. Looking ahead, we look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts to provide compassionate, patient-centred, integrated care that remains affordable, excellent, and convenient.
On behalf of Riverside Podiatry, Riverside BodyScan, Riverside Medical Imaging, Central Coast Spinal Care Centre, CCS Health, and all six of our business partners, I offer my sincere thanks. Together, we can create a brighter future for our community as we work towards our shared goal of enhancing healthcare and making a positive impact in people’s lives.
Dr Angus Steventon BMedSc MChir Chiropractor