TEAMWORK: Margaret Lord, Winsome manager and volunteer co-ordinator, Dr Charles Hew, Jane Conway, North Coast Medicare Local and Leanne Gilchrist, outreach worker with St Vincent de Paul at the Winsome GP clinic.
TEAMWORK: Margaret Lord, Winsome manager and volunteer co-ordinator, Dr Charles Hew, Jane Conway, North Coast Medicare Local and Leanne Gilchrist, outreach worker with St Vincent de Paul at the Winsome GP clinic. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Lismore GP makes housecalls on the homeless

EVERY Wednesday morning, Dr Charles Hew sets up a GP clinic for the homeless at Lismore's Winsome Hotel.

A room has been set up for him in one of the upstairs bedrooms with equipment provided by North Coast Medicare Local and bookings are organised by St Vincent de Paul outreach worker Leanne Gilchrist.

Dr Hew said there are many barriers in getting the homeless and vulnerable to see a doctor, so coming to where they are seemed like a sensible thing to do.

"There are very few places that bulk bill around here and it's not easy to get an appointment. And they are often leading chaotic lives so even things like making an appointment and turning up on time can be very difficult, but here no one minds if you turn up a bit late," he said.

The GP clinic has been running since April and next week a community nurse will also be on duty.

Dr Hew said he sees "everything from the common cold to psychiatric problems" and when necessary he is able to refer patients to specialists who bulk bill.

Dr Hew said he sees about four patients a week and follows up on patients.

The clinic is a collaboration between North Coast Medicare Local, the Lismore Soup Kitchen and St Vincent de Paul.

Ms Gilchrist said it was a valuable service for the homeless and those in "unstable accommodation".

COMING UP

NEXT week is Homeless Persons Week and The Winsome will put on a special event open to the public on Wednesday, August 7.

There will be music from the Bridge Street Choir, an open mic cabaret and a lunch provided by the Soup Kitchen for $10. The event gets underway from 11.30am.


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