The Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS) will soon have more dental services, a parenting program and the convenience of all services under one roof when work on the facility’s $1.8 million expansion gets underway.
The development was given the green light by Orange City Council last week and practice manager Yolande Meintjes said she hopes the expansion will be finalised within 12 months.
The expansion will mean the service’s Gateway Crescent and Palmer Street locations are consolidated when it takes over the neighbouring building in Perc Griffith Way after the funds from the federal government promised in this year’s budget are received.
“As soon as we get the money we’ll start,” Ms Meintjes said.
“We’ve already got a great team of builders together from the Aboriginal Land Council that will start on the building as soon as possible.”
The not-for-profit facility can be accessed by indigenous and non-indigenous patients and aims to offer a holistic approach to health with all services bulk billed.
“About 65 per cent of our clients are Aboriginal but we do service the whole community,” Ms Meintjes said.
“The social and emotional well-being of the client is taken into consideration, it’s not just treating their symptoms - it also looks at the social history and family history.”
The changes will make it even easier for clients to access dentistry care when a third dental chair, dental lab and sterilisation unit is added to the service.
“Dental services are quite limited for patients that aren’t able to afford the private services,” Ms Meintjes said.
Four family rooms to be established as part of the expansion will be used for a new parenting program to be offered at the service - a first for the central west.
“It assists families with newborn babies and toddlers and gives them advice with breastfeeding, nutrition and the diet of their children,” Ms Meintjes said.
“There is nothing like it this side of the Blue Mountains.”
The expansions will also build on the service’s reputation as a training and research facility with recently recruited regional GP educator Dr Rick Aitken set to train medical students from the University of Western Sydney and nursing and dental students from Charles Sturt University.
The service has been allocated $3.9 million from the federal government to purchase the neighbouring building, pay for the fit out and extensions and furnish the expanded service but the funds will not cover the cost of new staff.
Ms Meintjes said the service will apply for state government funding to recruit a child and family health nurse to assist with the parenting programs.
Second to the indigenous population Orange’s Sudanese community is a major user of the service.
“Even if they don’t qualify Medicare service we still offer it to them for free,” Ms Meintjes said.