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Dr Julian Fidge and Ms Kim Ching on breaking out

A desire to provide great healthcare services  to help residents in need.

  5.5 minutes


Since arriving back in the place he grew up, Dr Julian Fidge has made it his mission to give back to his community. He was the first GP to set up a bulk billing medical centre in Wangaratta, deep in the heart of the Victorian High Country, and the only doctor in the region to offer a seven-day-a-week service. Now he has further endeared himself to the residents in South Wangaratta when he became the first GP to open a clinic in their area, eliminating the requirement for ill community members to face lengthy drives into the city centre to see their nearest medical provider.

Having originally trained as a pharmacist, Dr Fidge completed his medical training at the University of Queensland in 2000. Stints in emergency medicine and general surgery were followed by a move back to his family property in Docker, near Wangaratta, to begin his specialty training in rural general practice. Dr Fidge since has specialised in community and Aboriginal health and providing care for patients undergoing rehabilitation at Odyssey House programs in Molyullah. He also runs his own private practice, Docker Street General Medical Centre (DSMC), which he set up in 2008 as a sole practitioner.

Growing pains

Pharmacist business partner and wife, Ms Kim Ching, completed her traineeships in Northeast Health Wangaratta in 2005, became accredited as a consultant pharmacist in 2009, and has since provided Home Medication Review Services throughout Victoria’s north east region. She is now actively involved in the management of DSMC, which has since quadrupled in size, becoming its business manager in 2014.

With the practice expanding and patient numbers reaching critical levels, Julian and Kim made the decision to begin investigating the feasibility of a second clinic. That's when they decided to contact BOQ Specialist to get some guidance.

“The building at DSMC is at its maximum capacity. We wanted to expand the business and provide more medical services to the local community. We also wanted to establish a purpose built medical clinic, where we could provide the local community with optimal care,” says Kim.

A ‘Build Your Practice’ conference in Melbourne, run by the Australian Medical Association, provided the perfect pathway and with BOQ Specialist’s backing they purchased a block of land in the south of the city that had recently been rezoned.

Moving in

Less than two years later the process was complete with the purpose-built clinic, called South Wangaratta Medical Centre (SWMC), opening its doors on July 4 this year. “It is a standard outpatient clinic layout with the central administration and consulting suits surrounding,” says Kim.

Kim says the most challenging aspect of setting up both practices to date has been the struggle faced by many clinics outside of city limits—the difficulty in recruiting doctors to work in a regional setting.

Now with more than 8000 active patients in their books across the two sites, the pair have grown their staffing levels to the point where they have four associate GPs with a further two commencing work at SWMC “in the next couple of months”.

With that said the duo has also discovered less logistical issues. Operating from a medical centre which is purpose-built has ensured a much better workflow.

While SWMC currently has a dentist, pathologist and dietician based in South Wangaratta the pair hopes to eventually add podiatry and diabetes education services into the mix of services provided.

There is also room at the site to incorporate a skin cancer clinic, cosmetic clinic and travel clinic further down the track, Kim says. All of which was possible with the assistance of BOQ Specialist.

The BOQ Specialist difference

“Our banker was very knowledgeable and the product and service BOQ Specialist provides is excellent. They have excellent ideas in loan construction. BOQ Specialist requested minimal administrative burden [and made] the daunting process simple and easy.”

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