clinic in Wollongong offering the first model of care in Australia | Mercury of Illawarra

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A medical practice in Wollongong brings together orthopedic surgery, podiatry and physiotherapy under one roof, in a model of care unheard of in Australia. Mount Ousley resident Dr Lynne Cook, a retired professor of German literature, started having foot problems while caring for her elderly mother in 2018. Dr Cook was diagnosed with tendonitis from Achilles insertion, a condition in which the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed due to stress. Read more: Wollongong’s new indoor play space for children She first saw orthopedic surgeon and Wollongong Foot and Ankle Center co-founder Dr Meghan Dares before the clinic was established and she was advised to pursue non-surgical treatments. Returning later for follow-ups, Dr. Cook found that co-locating services under the same roof at the clinic’s premises in Auburn Street made all the difference. “Moving to the Foot and Ankle Center was almost a space-age difference because it brings all of these other healthcare professionals together under one roof,” she said. Dr Dares said not only are the different disciplines housed in the same building, but they sing from the same score. “Traditionally, you would have surgery and then you would go to the podiatrist or physical therapist for rehab, and there would be no ongoing communication,” she said. “They would have a hard time knowing what surgery the surgeon performed, what the rehabilitation plan was. But here we have ongoing communication, not just electronically but also face-to-face.” Although the location of surgical and allied health professionals is not unusual, the co-consultation model is a first. Dr. Dares recently received the NSW Merit Award for Services to Surgery and was invited, along with co-founder and CEO Wynter Dares, to showcase the model internationally. Already, the service is putting Wollongong on the map for integrated healthcare and support, with patients coming not just from Illawarra but from greater Sydney and the ACT. For Dr. Cook, who returned to the clinic for her second surgery on Friday, March 18, this innovation offers a very practical benefit. “Obviously, it’s incredibly convenient. It saves you a lot of time and time. Plus, it just makes you feel like you’ve got everyone’s attention, because, you know, they’re here for you to show up.” she says. “All appointments are scheduled so I can see the podiatrist right after seeing Dr. Dares or right after I’ve had stitches.” Dr. Cook is not the only patient to benefit from this approach, and the clinic plans to expand from its current purpose-built center to accommodate its growth. According to Mr Dares, the reason for the clinic’s success is its location in Wollongong. “The benefit of being in a regional area is that you can experience because you don’t have to pay Sydney fares,” he said. Of course, this is all good news for the clinic, but for patients like Dr Cook, the clinic’s cohesion means she can recover faster. “I have regained movement in my left foot and I can see that I am going to be able to walk a lot better. Once I can do that I will have my life back and I can help take better care of dad without the pain and the restrictions that I had before.” To read more stories, download the Illawarra Mercury news app from the Apple Store or Google Play.

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