Cummins, a small town on the Lower Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, is a strategic location for healthcare services, with a current client base of more than 3,500 within the district. Like all other rural communities across the nation, we face challenges that change by the decade, as well as changes in decision-makers in government.
In the 1970s there were three doctors in the Cummins Medical Practice. Our current general practitioner (GP) has served the community for 30 years and is very aware of its healthcare needs. Throughout his dedicated career he has recognised the need to plan for the future and now, as he approaches retirement, he is consolidating the valuable health services for the future of the district. As the sole doctor he has maintained a valued and respected GP clinic with primary healthcare services, as well as providing 24/7 on-call support to the Cummins Memorial Hospital.
Over the past decade, the local GP has participated in the training of student doctors for the future benefit of regional health, and constantly advertises to recruit another GP to the Cummins practice.
The community is indebted for his foresight. Through proactive community fundraising and many grant applications, dedicated accommodation options have been provided on Cummins hospital grounds for students in training, registrars, locums and rural student doctors, in conjunction with supervision and training provided by the GP. A doctor was successfully recruited from South Africa and has been in the practice since April 2021. A private arrangement was made to accommodate the new doctor and her family.
To support future recruitment of a doctor, the incentive of a house being supplied was evident. Recently the Lower Eyre Health Advisory Council, the Lower Eyre Council, Cummins District Community Bank and the Cummins Community Hotel have partnered to purchase a house for a prospective doctor. A local government Section 41 committee has been established for management of the doctor’s house and the funds being contributed to the project. The community is now able to offer accommodation to any potential new doctor to join the medical practice in support of the team already working for the health care of our community.
The Cummins community realises the critical need to plan for a team of healthcare professionals to maintain services and sustain the medical practice and hospital in our region. A further strategy is development of a visual media promotion of our community. The district’s benefits are being highlighted to help attract interest in coming to Lower Eyre Peninsula. The target audience is either for a GP to join the practice or for potential health professionals to experience rural training placements. Then the lifestyle prospects can be experienced by candidates at first hand, to show that life in a rural setting is an awesome opportunity!