Busy time at Stretton Park

Stretton park residents and staff have had a busy month.

 Our photos show: 

Heyfield Pool Competition on 25 July with Diversional Therapist Kai Hudson and resident shooting pool.

Our regular morning walking group with fellow Diversional Therapist Sharon Woods.

NAIDOC Week Celebrations with CGH Koori Liaison Officer Sandra Neilson cutting the celebration cake with DT’s Kai and Sharon.

Stretton Park Exercise Group on 27 July.


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Rob recalls his time at Sale

Rob Ziffer - Copy

Rob Ziffer in the Intensive Care Unit at Sale Hospital last week.


Dr Rob Ziffer has seen a lot during his decades of work as a physician at Sale Hospital.

The medical cases presented to him have only been part of a bigger picture that is the workings of the Sale hospital which celebrates 150 years in August.

There’s been changes in staff, advances in medicine, building renovations, variations in services, not to mention numerous consultations with community members, some positive, some not, over the years.

For the young man who at first thought he wanted to be an architect, medicine has provided a career that has seen Dr Ziffer navigate interesting, ever-changing and sometimes treacherous waters but at the heart of all of this has been the human connections he has made along the way.

Growing up in Melbourne and starting his career at St Vincent’s Hospital, then working overseas, he became a physician and then did cardiology.

“I guess there are some facets of medicine as a physician which are more hands-off….and there are some that have a bit of adrenalin in them like cardiology and intensive care. I liked the physiology of the heart and it’s a very common disorder so there’s lots of challenges there.”

In the late 70s married with one child and another on the way, Dr Ziffer saw a job advertised in Sale.

“My wife and I thought we’d try going down to Sale and see how we liked it for a year or two,” Dr Ziffer recalls. “My son was born just two weeks before we moved there. A bit stressful for my wife – she’s a great woman!”

His first memories of the hospital in 1978 was that it was “well established” with a small intensive care unit but overall it was “very different” from St Vincent’s.

“At a bigger hospital, you have a much bigger hierarchy with many more consultants with various skills and sub specialities, you then have registrars and senior people doing training to support you and a whole range of junior staff.

“When I got to Sale there was one unit, one first year graduate and that was it.”

With much responsibility came much learning, according to Dr Ziffer.

“The upside is that it gives you more freedom to develop, you had to make a lot of calls yourself and do the best you could in the circumstances.”

D Ziffer says he worked hard to strengthen the intensive care unit, particularly with nurses to ensure there was a great team to assist.

“At the time, most of the girls had to train out of town which was difficult with their families in town so we developed a system where we ran our own course for their training and it gradually became more formalised and eventually merged with a training course through Monash (University) predominately done in Sale.”

Not long after starting at Sale, the hospital added an oncology unit – the first in Gippsland and later a dialysis unit – a move to ensure regional people could receive high end medical services.

Dr Ziffer said with great allied health, pharmaceutical, pathology and imaging services, Sale became a stop-off point for people from East Gippsland where services might not have been as substantial.

After around three years at Sale, with a third edition to his family, and another physician arriving at the hospital, Dr Ziffer and his family felt Gippsland was truly their home.

“We really liked the area, there’s a great community spirit, the kids settled in school and we made a lot of connections in the area.

“I see people I’ve helped down the street and my problem is I often remember their conditions better than their names,” Dr Ziffer laughs.

Being a physician in the country has meant Dr Ziffer has often ran into his patients while out and about.

“I was fairly tough about people stopping smoking after having a heart attack and I remember running into a patient in the supermarket who was having a cigarette. He rapidly put it in his pocket when he saw me coming and I could see the smoke coming out. I thought I’d go and have a chat to him and see how long he could hold it. In the end, he had to pull his hand out of his pocket because he was worried he was going to burn his pants.”

Dr Ziffer has also had friends turn up as patients.

“The strong principal there is you never do for them what you wouldn’t for anyone else. You can come to grief if you try and do too much, things can get complex, over-treating can become a negative. That doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly, but at a professional level you have to know what your boundaries are.”

During his almost 40 years working in Sale, Dr Ziffer said the advances in medicine had been significant.

“Medicine has become so sophisticated, the rate of progress has been enormous in the way we use information, the rapidity you can get results, the improvement in imagery and pathology.”

He said the hospital was essentially re-built over the years of 87-91 “with a terrific design that really helped”.

As a physician working in intensive care and specialising in cardiology, his own adrenalin has had some serious workouts.

“It’s a sharp sword – terrific when it works and very tough when it doesn’t. It’s a challenge to use it to your benefit and manage the down sides. That takes a lot of experience. That was the benefit of working with a great team of people where everyone supported each other and there was a lot of opportunity to debrief when things didn’t go as well as they could have, to help people through it.”

Working with many great people over the years is something Dr Ziffer has valued highly throughout his time at Sale.

“You form strong relationships, respect them as professionals and value everyone’s input. I really liked working in a horizontal model of care where nobody is supreme, everyone’s contribution is valuable. When you wind back a little bit, they’re the sorts of things you miss most.”

Dr Ziffer has now closed his rooms and taken himself off the hospital roster but still practices around 10 hours a week, including teaching young medical students.

His best advice to them is to “make sure you get the basics right”.

“The basic guts of it is to take a good history, relate to patients and make connections; that’s where you get your information from. Everyone loves talking about something new… but basically most of medicine it still very dependent on that relationship with two people and getting that right is very important.”

And connections are something Dr Ziffer values highly and remembers fondly when he thinks about his long career in Gippsland.

“My best memories of the hospital are the way it works as a people place. A place run by people for the people and because those people are your own community, there’s a lot of compassion there around care which probably goes a bit beyond what you’d get in a professional institution. It’s that quality of people, working together, that has been my favourite part of the hospital.”



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New stroke support group

Bob Sheean knows only too well what it’s like to have a stroke.

This is what is driving Bob to form a local Stroke Support Group, with the support of Central Gippsland Health’s Allied Health staff.

The meetings will be held from 1-3pm at the CGH Community Rehabilitation Centre and then every Tuesday.

Bob hopes interested stroke survivors, carers and friends will go and be a part of this new group.  

Bob had a stroke 12 years ago.  His hopes the new support group will be a place for stroke survivors and their carers to meet others facing similar challenges, to share their stories and to support each other in a positive way.

“You go to bed one night and wake up the next morning and everything is brand new!” Bob recalled of having his stroke. “I had a purpose and that was to get back to work. 

“I decided that we only use 10 per cent of our brains anyway – so I’m going to use the rest of it!”

Bob returned to running his own business and has continued to do that successfully for the past 12 years with the support of his wife.  He is just in the process of retiring now and wants to give back to his community.     

There was no support group when Bob had his stroke. Because he wants to continually challenge himself, he has spent some time thinking about “what’s next?”

“I decided to start the group to give others a ‘real life’ understanding of what it’s like to survive a stroke and get back to living,” Bob said.

Stroke can affect a person in many different ways, both physically and emotionally.  Stroke survivors can often feel isolated, lonely and stuck.  This in turn affects their partners, carers and family.   The purpose of the group is to bring together and provide support for everyone affected by stroke. 

“You are on a journey – life has changed but it’s still a journey,” Bob said.

If you want more information, call Bob on 0411 310 728.

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Busy month for Stretton Park

Stretton park residents and staff have had a busy month.


Our photos show:


Photo 1: Heyfield Pool Competition on 25 July.


Photo 2: Heyfield Pool Competition on 25 July with Diversional Therapist Kai Hudson and resident shooting pool.


Photo 3: Our regular morning walking group with fellow Diversional Therapist Sharon Woods.


Photo 4: Kai and Sharon, New Diversional Therapists at Stretton Park.


Photo 5:  NAIDOC Week Celebrations with CGH Koori Liaison Officer Sandra Neilson cutting the celebration cake with DT’s Kai and Sharon.


Photo 7: Stretton Park Exercise Group on 27 July.


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Architect to be engaged

Stretton Park Hostel will engage an architect to prepare detailed plans and tender documents for the Stretton Park Redevelopment Project.

Central Gippsland Health Chief Executive, Frank Evans, said the Stretton Park Board was now ready to engage the architect and prepare detailed plans and tender documents to build the $6 million redevelopment.

Stretton Park Chair, Phill Clifford, welcomed the decision and is “excited” to see the project moving into the next stage.

“We are grateful to the community for supporting our fundraising for the project which is essential,” he added. “This will be continuing for the life of the project.”

Phill said the facility had an “excellent reputation” of providing aged care service to the residents of Maffra and surrounding districts, but needed a major refurbishment to maintain this high standard of care.

“The purpose for which the facility was designed has changed significantly over the years from hostel type care to nursing home care,” he said. “Initially residents had to be self-reliant, independent and require little or no nursing care. Today, most residents require high levels of personal care.

 “This will meet the needs of the current and future community.”

Meanwhile Frank said despite missing out on the Federal Government’s 2017-18 Aged Care Approvals Round, the project would be going ahead regardless.

“Naturally we were disappointed but we will be applying for government funding again if there is an opportunity provided through the next funding round,” he added.

However CGH hopes to meet Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Gippsland MHR, Darren Chester, who launched the fundraising appeal for Stretton Park, to discuss further funding opportunities.


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World Hepatitis Day

Central Gippsland Health is actively promoting the fight against Hepatitis within our community.

 Project officer with the CGH Needle and Syringe Program, Glenn Strike, spoke about the issue to mark World Hepatitis Day on Friday July 28.

 Glenn said the day  had “huge significance” for every community as it promoted awareness of a virus that could affect everyone.

 “It remains hidden internally until liver damage or other symptoms occur,” Glenn said. “CGH is helping with the fight through the provision of free condoms, sterile injecting equipment and increasing public access to sharps disposal facilities.”

 Glenn said globally, more than 300 million people lived with Hepatitis, with types B and C being the most common.

 “While Australia has comparatively low rates of Hepatitis, it is estimated that there are just under half a million Australian sufferers with an almost equal split between types B and C,” he added. “Both types are spread through blood to blood contact and the type B virus is also spread through bodily fluids, which explains why the virus is universally successful in communities and environments that have low hygiene awareness.”

 Glenn said harm reduction through education was the greatest tool in the fight against Hepatitis. This can be achieved through improving community awareness of the importance of good personal hygiene, safe sexual practice and safe injecting techniques for those who inject prescribed medications or illicit drugs.

 “Using a condom is not just a form of contraception as it also prevents the spread of many infections, in particular Hepatitis B and C. Even simple safety measures such as not sharing a toothbrush or a razor can prevent accidental transmission of this virus.

 “More recently, informing people about the tremendously effective new Hepatitis C treatment has been crucial in helping to reduce this virus in Australia. Last year saw the introduction of a Hep C treatment on the PBS that has a 95 per cent success rate within a short two to three month period and significantly less side effects than previous treatments.”

 Glenn said following a GP consultation and a few tests, a Hepatitis C sufferer could now hope to improve their quality of life and longevity very quickly.

 “If you have any concerns about Hepatitis for yourself or others, you are encouraged to contact your GP to discuss treatment and support pathways.”

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Make a healthy choice

Signs 2.pngYou will notice some new signs up in the CGH Cafeteria. It’s all part of efforts to help people make healthier choices.

CGH has partnered with Alfred Health to install signage in its cafeteria to help staff and visitors identify which foods are healthier choices.

This signage has already been rolled out and evaluated in Alfred Health’s cafeteria.

CGH Chief Executive Officer, Frank Evans, said the results from the Alfred showed that with the addition of the new signage, people were making healthier choices.

“We are hoping it will have the same effect in the Sale hospital cafeteria,” Dr Evans said.

“With approximately 45,000 meals served through the cafeteria each year, we have the ability to make a difference to the health of our community by making the healthy choice the easy choice.”

A key recommendation of the CGH Health Plan 2012-2022 states ‘Healthy choices: food and drink guidelines for Victorian public hospitals (Healthy Choices) is fully implemented as a part of our primary prevention strategy to address cardiovascular disease and obesity’.

Frank said as a health service, it was essential CGH demonstrated leadership in health promotion and population health.  He said the aim was to make the healthy choice the easy choice through a number of initiatives.

“We are increasing the availability and promotion of healthier food and drink choices and reducing the availability and promotion of less healthy choices.”

Health Promotions Officer, Jessica Harkness, said all soft drinks from the cafeteria (including diet varieties) had been removed and introduced special healthy lunch events. “Meals with added fats, saturated fat and/or added sugar and/or added salt are no longer provided at functions as part of our new function catering menu,” she said.

New signage for all food and drink in the cafeteria categorises options available. This has been done with support from Alfred Health.

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