ARARAT - The practice manager at Ararat Medical Centre has received a prestigious Victorian Rural Health Award for his commitment to local medical services.
Garry Hurst was presented with his award by Victorian Health Minister, David Davis, during a gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne.
Mr Hurst received the honour for his efforts to increase the number of doctors at the practice from seven to 16 in what is a difficult climate for recruiting doctors.
There has also been a significant improvement in the time patients have to wait for an appointment.
"We've reduced waiting periods. What was once up to a seven week wait has been reduced to a day, you can nearly-always get a same-day appointment when you call," he said.
Mr Hurst honed his practice management skills in South Australia before being lured to Ararat by the centre's principals.
When he arrived there were seven doctors and a handful of administrative staff. He has since grown the practice into the biggest medical establishment in the area, with 16 doctors and 18 administrative and nursing staff.
He also managed a major redevelopment of the premises so that it now boasts state-of-the-art facilities and vastly improved services.
"It is great to get recognition from the owners of the practice and industry for my contribution to Ararat health services."
Away from work, Mr Hurst and his family enjoy camping, kayaking and tennis.
The awards are hosted by RWAV, Victoria's not-for-profit Rural Workforce Agency, and are a way of saying thanks to health professionals across the state for their dedication and hard work.
RWAV Chairman Dr Philip Webster said Mr Hurst thoroughly deserved his Practice Manager Award.
"Garry has an excellent understanding of the issues and challenges facing rural general practice and takes practical steps to drive improvements," Dr Webster said.
"He is also a welcoming face, particularly to new doctors, medical students and registrars. He introduces them to all aspects of the local community and helps them settle into life at Ararat."
Minister for Health, David Davis, congratulated Mr Hurst on his Victorian Rural Health Award, describing him and the other award winners as true health heroes.
"Victoria is fortunate to have the services of so many wonderful health professionals and these awards are a great way of celebrating the fantastic contribution they make to the community."