Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine Part of NHMRC Grant for Alcohol Research

A 2015 alcohol screening pilot project undertaken at South West Healthcare Emergency Department has contributed to the awarding of a $1.5M research grant.

The Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has announced South West Healthcare is part of a winning consortium to deliver the Driving Change: Using Emergency Department Data To Reduce Alcohol-related Harm pilot to emergency departments throughout Australia. SWH’s share of the funding will be approximately $100,000 over five years.

The NMHRC is Australia’s leading expert body for supporting health and medical research; developing health advice for the Australian community, health professionals and governments; and providing advice on ethical behaviour on health care and in the conduct of health and medical research. Becoming the recipient of an NMHRC grant is incredibly prestigious.

Joining SWH, the winning consortium includes Deakin’s Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), Vincent’s Hospital Australia (Melbourne and Sydney), the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Australian National University, Barwon Health, Calvary Health Care ACT, Monash Health, University of New South Wales, and Cardiff University.

SEED’S Professor Peter Miller will lead the five-year project based on an international model that has shown to substantially reduce violent crimes, street assaults and hospital admissions related to alcohol. Building on the international evidence and pilot data gathered from Warrnambool and other Australian emergency department sites last year, he will oversee and evaluate an intervention that aims to reduce alcohol-related injury in the community through a randomised trial in eight emergency departments in Victoria, NSW and the ACT. A key aspect will be the introduction of mandatory ’last-drinks’ data collection within existing hospital IT systems that identifies areas of problem drinking.

‘Driving Change: Using Emergency Department Data to Reduce Alcohol-related Harm has the potential to improve the wellbeing of Australians,’ says the Director of the Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine’s Dr Tim Baker, who was heavily involved in last year’s pilot.

‘We are keen to continue to be involved so that the needs of rural patients and their families are considered, as well. Reducing the impact of alcohol and other drugs is our emergency department’s number one public health priority. Our share of the grant will allow a researcher to gather the information we need to find out what approach works best.’

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, over the past decade the number (from 40,000 – 60,000+) and rate (from about 200 – 270 hospitalisations per 100,000) of alcohol-related hospitalisations have risen annually.

SWH’s 2015 research highlighted the growing problem of ‘pre-loading’ – drinkers consuming vast amounts of (cheaper) alcohol at home before heading out to a licensed venue. The eight-month study asked people presenting with injuries at the Emergency Department whether they’d consumed alcohol in the 12 hour lead-up to their injury, and where they’d bought the alcohol they had at home before heading out for a night on the town.

The research also revealed Warrnambool’s May Racing Carnival is the peak time for alcohol-related injuries.

Major partnership for Deakin Medical School in rural emergency medicine

November 2010

The Victorian Government, Alcoa of Australia and Deakin University’s Medical School have joined forces to create a Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine.

The Centre, to be launched in Portland on Tuesday 27 November, will operate through Deakin’s School of Medicine, hospitals at Portland District Health and South West Healthcare Warrnambool and through a network of regional doctors.

The Director of the Centre will hold a position in the Deakin Medical School.


Deakin Medical School appoints director for Western Victoria’s Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine

April 2009

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 said he was 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 said.

“There is a difference between the emergency treatment outcomes for country patients and those in the city.”

“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, said he was 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 said.

Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews said 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 said.

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 said.

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 said.

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.”