Eternal Women’s Health had a vision for a holistic women’s health centre in Hobart. Their challenge was finding a way to bring it to life.
When they envisaged Eternal Women’s Health, “we wanted it to be a space that was safe and comforting and that allowed inclusion of everyone that might be involved in the women’s health care journey,” explains Dr Tania Hingston.
She and Dr Emily Price saw an opportunity in their hometown of Hobart to set up their ideal practice, which opened its doors in February this year.
“Nothing similar was available in Hobart. We felt women would value this level of service and turn out for it in droves,” says Dr Hingston.
The only trick was finding the funding to bring an evolving concept to life.
Dr Hingston and Dr Price are both Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologists. “I’m a Tasmanian born, Tasmanian trained, Obstetrician-Gynaecologist,” Dr Hingston says.
“I wanted to be an Obstetrician since I was in about Grade 9 and knew that was always where my career was heading. I trained through the Royal Hobart Hospital and then moved over to Melbourne for a few years and did some training in the Northern Hospital in Epping and then at the Women’s Hospital for a couple of years.”
Dr Price took a slightly different path. “I had initially planned to embark on a career in general practice after I finished my medical training,” she says.
“I embarked on a journey through various medical specialties and encountered obstetrics and didn’t look back.
“I subsequently trained at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne and my passion has been normal and high-risk obstetrics, along with gynaecology endometriosis and fertility. I have a special interest in laparoscopic surgery—which means that we complement each other nicely with our skillset. I moved to Tasmania in 2017 and we now call Tasmania home.
“We’ve built this wonderful practice that we hope will be here for a very long time.”
The core vision for Eternal Women’s Health was to be a more welcoming space than many medical practices provide.
“The idea for this practice was to ensure that it’s not overtly feminine,” says Dr Hingston. “It’s comfortable and safe—somewhere that people feel comfortable coming back to.”
Dr Hingston explains it was important for the space to feel welcoming and familiar to get the best health outcomes for patients.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re here to see their obstetrician gynaecologist, or to see the midwife, the physio, the psychologist, or the dietician," she adds. "We’ll get good outcomes by offering them a space where they are safe to disclose and safe to engage in the care that we can provide them.”
But as the vision grew, new opportunities presented themselves.
“The design evolved to include spaces for group education sessions, team meetings, leadership development days, as well as a space that can be utilised by other external providers,” says Dr Price.
From vision to execution
Of course, there’s always a gap between vision and execution. And one of the challenges facing Eternal Women’s Health was that the vision was always evolving.
“There was no way that Emily and I between us would have been able to finance this, and this was a project that kind of evolved and got bigger as we went along,” says Dr Hingston.
That’s when Melinda Goddard of BOQ Specialist came on the scene two years ago. “Our initial conversations had been around a much smaller practice,” explains Dr Hingston.
“Then we ended up growing and BOQ Specialist were extremely responsive and receptive. Every time our practice manager would call and say ‘actually we want to do something a bit different’ or ‘we’ve decided we’re going to take a little bit more of the building and we’ve decided we want to add these extra couple of services but of course that’s going to cost us a bit more money. Without their support and their backing, we just wouldn’t have been able to do this.”
“In developing and building the practice, we not only had the clinical team and administrative team around us that we felt enriched the practice," adds Dr Price.
"We also had a support network behind us, including the architecture team, the accountants and BOQ Specialist. They have been exceptionally supportive and encouraging along a journey that has been quite daunting. They have provided us with not only financial support but have also allowed us to ask questions.
"In addition, they have supported our practice manager in facilitating things and structuring our finance in the best way possible to maximise our returns and enable the business to run smoothly from a financial perspective essentially from the word go."
Making it work
The challenge of developing such a practice was outweighed by the benefits, says Dr Price. “Being a business owner allows an autonomy that is not available in other spheres of healthcare. And whilst it was a big step to embark on the journey of owning a business and taking on that responsibility, it has meant that we can be adaptable and nimble in our decision making—to change the course if something’s not working, or run with a model of care or a process that we think is working really well. It allows us to engage with the community and adapt to what’s going on around us. And it provides us with financial independence.”
The connection between vision and reality comes down to BOQ Specialist understanding the value of their vision says Dr Hingston.
“The fact that they could see the value of what we were trying to provide for Hobart,” she adds.
“That was really lovely for us. We were viewing the project from a clinicians point of view, while BOQ Specialist look at things primarily from a business point of view. They obviously believed that we were capable of delivering what we had visualised which was really encouraging for us.”
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