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RWAV allied health new service grant helps podiatry practice offer new service to rural patients

Luke Zoanetti has been operating his own podiatry practice in the historic Gippsland town of Wonthaggi since 2007.

He grew up not far away on Phillip Island, and then moved to Albury to study his Bachelor of Health Science (Podiatry) at Charles Sturt University.

Luke loves rural life and navigating the challenges of podiatry work in the seaside town provides him with valuable experience as an allied medical professional. With the practice being the first, and often the only, port of call for presenting patients means he needs to be ready and resourceful with treatment and referrals.

There are five podiatrists working at the Bass Coast Podiatry practice, which operates five days a week. They cover everything from diabetes foot assessments, nail surgery and prescription orthotic therapy to biomechanical assessments, laser treatment and general podiatry.

The practice was recently awarded the RWAV Allied Health New Service Grant. The grant has enabled Luke and his colleagues to introduce a new treatment modality that has saved patients driving between 30 and 60 minutes to neighbouring towns for treatment.

“To be able to offer this service at our practice in an affordable manner has been amazing,” Luke explained, adding that RWAV’s online application process had made it easy and straightforward. “We could log in and log out depending on when we had time available,’ he said.

The grant came as welcome news after a difficult couple of years working through the COVID-19 pandemic. The staff’s daily lives changed significantly with the implementation of a COVID-19 plan. Administration, patient care and everything in between had to be done differently.

“Assessing the urgency of treatments, versus the risk of seeing patients became the new normal,” Luke said. On a positive note, it enabled the practice to review and streamline processes, and ensure they’d be able to move forward in a purposeful and collaborative way.

As with many practices, the pandemic affected the ability to see patients, and this had a downwards impact on revenue. Yet the experience “has helped us grow moving forward,” Luke said.

Living and working in rural Victoria is something Luke is passionate about. Working in small communities is extremely rewarding when you can make a difference, he said. Relationships between health professionals are strong and word-of-mouth recommendations replace the advertising practices that are necessary in larger towns and cities.

It’s not all work, though, and Luke loves exploring the region on his time off. With a network of walking trails that branch out across the Bass Coast, as well as wildlife and food destinations, he has plenty to do on weekends.

Luke has been associated with RWAV since the middle of 2021 and is excited about his ongoing relationship with the organisation. ‘I’ve already referred several of my rural practising colleagues,” he said.

Click here to see the grant guidelines and the eligibility requirements. If you would like more information on the range of grants available, assistance applying, or would like to provide ideas or feedback. Get in touch with us now or phone 03 9349 7800 (Option 4).

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