For Northern Illawarra GP Mark Melek, this life-changing realisation forms the basis of his exciting new Northern Illawarra health community.
Village Practice is a purpose-built medical practice and community hub in Woonona. But it will be more than a place to visit the doctor.
“Our society suffers from a lack of connectedness,” says Mark. “The Village Practice will become a place where people can come together to meet others, to find support, and to enjoy the many activities and groups we will facilitate.”
I came to a realisation through my work as a GP that a lack of connectedness and togetherness can be reflected in health outcomes.
“Take a new mum for example,” he says.“Once upon a time, children were born into close communities where the new mum would be assisted for weeks.”
“It made me realise what’s lacking in our community. These days, when a baby is born the responsibility and workload falls on one or two sets of shoulders. Many mums are on limited maternity leave, there is often stress about needing to get back to work, partners are working long hours to make ends meet. It’s not uncommon for new mums to find themselves isolated, at home alone with a screaming, unsettled baby, with very little support and great uncertainty”
“It means the experience of giving birth is not the wonderful and beautiful experience one had hoped for and can instead become potentially difficult and for some it’s simply awful.”
Mark has enlisted the aid of like-minded Northern Illawarra doctors Dr. Zeenath Hassim and Dr. Paul Hoskins, who are fully engaged with this health care model.
“I quickly started to realise something was missing. Something had broken down. This has been supported in reputable medical research demonstrating people who live socially isolated existences are 30% more likely to have strokes or heart attacks. So first and foremost we wanted to build a platform for connectedness.”
Mark says the idea has developed naturally “As GPs, we see it every day. Taking it one step further, I’d like to create a more meaningful approach to medicine. Meaningful not only for the people who work at the Village Practice but also meaningful to patients because they are receiving healthcare that’s relevant and purposeful. This is done by taking into account one’s environment, relationships, work, diet, pressures and social connectedness.
The Village Practice will be a meeting point, it will host workshops and information sessions, support school programs and offer other health professionals a platform from which to connect with the community. It’s all a part of the larger health story.
“The Village will offer ‘WHOLEistic medicine,” says Mark. “Everything is connected so we will look at the big picture. We’ll cover all aspects of a person’s health story in a bid to create meaningful and lasting health outcomes.”
Open for appointments from April 9 2018.
Online bookings :
24 Park Rd, Woonona East, NSW, 2517