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Deakin University has appointed a specialist emergency physician, Clinical Associate Professor Tim Baker, as the Director for the new Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine (CREM).
A joint initiative between the State Government, Alcoa of Australia and the Deakin Medical School, CREM will contribute to the coordination and delivery of effective emergency medical management in western Victoria and provide national leadership in emergency medicine research. It will operate through the Deakin Medical School's new Greater Green Triangle Clinical School based at Warrnambool's South West Healthcare (SWH) and Portland District Health (PDH), and through a network of regional doctors. The Centre has received financial support from Alcoa, the Victorian Government and both health services.
Associate Professor Baker says he is looking forward to working with healthcare providers in Warrnambool and western Victoria to respond to the emergency medical needs of rural and regional communities.
'This is a crucial time to be involved in rural emergency medicine,' Associate Professor Baker says.
'There is an emerging difference between the emergency treatment outcomes for country patients and those in the city for a number of conditions, including cardiac emergencies.
'What we need to ensure is that country people have timely access to all the proven services available in the city, and have the same chance of a good outcome, no matter where they are in Victoria.
'Through CREM we will explore the challenges in getting good outcomes for emergencies in rural and regional hospitals and work towards a robust and successful system here that we can export to the rest of rural Victoria and Australia.'
Professor Brendan Crotty, the Head of the Deakin Medical School, says he is delighted with Associate Professor Baker's appointment.
'The establishment of CREM is a result of the Medical School working with Alcoa, the State Government and the two regional health services, South West Healthcare (Warrnambool) and Portland District Health. For the south west, CREM is the first tangible benefit from the new Deakin Medical School and I think we can all look forward to significant improvements in emergency care in the region,' he says.
Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews says the Brumby Government was pleased that the Centre was able to select someone of Associate Professor Baker's stature and experience to south west Victoria.
'Under Associate Professor Baker the Centre will play a key role in the provision of emergency medical services and undertake research and training in emergency medicine in rural settings.
'It is important that our front line emergency staff in rural areas have access to contemporary education to ensure the best level of care,' Mr Andrews says.
As well as heading up CREM, Associate Professor Baker will work in the emergency departments of SWH Warrnambool and PDH and will contribute to the Deakin Medical School teaching program. He hopes his broad experience will help the junior medical staff and the Deakin medical students who will train in western Victoria from next year.
'I have worked in emergency medicine for 15 years. My work has taken me to hospitals in remote Central Australia, in Gippsland where I grew up and to every continent, including hospitals in Kenya and Peru,' Associate Professor Baker says.
SWH Chief Executive Officer John Krygger said the establishment of CREM and the appointment of Associate Professor Tim Baker was a significant coup for the region.
'We are delighted that we have been able to recruit an emergency physician with the experience and expertise of Tim Baker who has both clinical and research strengths. The appointment is also a strong tangible benefit of our relationship with Deakin University and highlights our commitment to providing best practice emergency care,' he says.
Alcoa of Australia's General Manager Victorian Operations Arnaud Soirat said Alcoa's partnership with Deakin is a central plank in its efforts to create sustainable communities.
'Strengthening our communities is a part of core business at Alcoa and has never been more important as we face such challenging times.
'Strong rural health services are an essential part of a sustainable community and this partnership with Deakin is very important to help achieve this. We welcome Dr Baker and all he can bring to the role.'