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Regional facilities 27 April 2023

Clearer picture of digestive system issues in Alexandra

‘If I can’t get it done in Alexandra, I won’t get it done at all,’ Dr Puneet Mahindra says is the most common response when referring patients to metropolitan health services.

Dr Mahindra is a gastroenterologist at Alexandra District Health. He treats diseases and disorders of the digestive system.

This includes being trained in using gastroscopy and colonoscopy equipment – which involves passing a tiny video camera through parts of a patient’s digestive system.

Without the latest medical equipment available at Alexandra District Health, and patients unwilling or unable to travel, it was harder to diagnose and treat digestive conditions, explains Dr Mahindra.

Even when patients were willing to make the trip, it was a tiring and expensive undertaking. Dr Mahindra gives the example of an elderly patient who required regular surveillance endoscopies in Melbourne.

The five-hour round trip from their home in the Hume region made the routine checks an arduous task for the patient. A relative accompanying him was also losing a day’s wages for every trip.

State-of-the-art equipment improves health outcomes

Alexandra District Health received funding for new endoscopy equipment including three colonoscopes, a paediatric colonoscope and an endoscopy tower through the Victorian Government’s 2020-21 Regional Health Infrastructure Fund. 

Dr Mahindra is a gastroenterologist at Alexandra District Health. He is pictured with staff members and new endoscopy equipment

With the new medical equipment, Dr Mahindra’s patients can now receive surveillance endoscopies closer to home. This has many benefits for patients, including more affordable, accessible and manageable treatment.

According to Dr Mahindra, the new equipment is the best and latest endoscopy equipment available.

Alexandra District Health was one of the first public health services in regional Victoria to treat patients using this new technology.

Dr Mahindra explains the equipment includes a special artificial intelligence (AI) module which assists in picking up early cancer and polyps, which in turn helps prevent bowel cancer.

Patients can also now be treated in Alexandra, rather than having to travel to a metropolitan hospital for treatment.

‘The new equipment helps us perform the procedures with more efficiency, with a lower risk of complications,’ explains Dr Mahindra.

‘The procedure duration, patient comfort and diagnostic capability have all improved with newer equipment.’

Improved confidence in local treatment

The new medical equipment is also improving health outcomes for residents in surrounding areas. General practitioners from nearby regions have been referring patients to Alexandra District Health rather than metropolitan hospitals.

‘It increases patient confidence in the treatment and also helps decrease anxiety they may have around a medical procedure.’

Dr Mahindra, Gastroenterologist, Alexandra District Health

Dr Mahindra also believes the new equipment demonstrates the high quality of care Alexandra District Health is providing to the community. This in turn is attracting more health specialists to the region.

And it’s having positive impacts on health outcomes for these regional communities. Dr Mahindra says the reduction in barriers and time needed for patients to access treatment means the health service can manage community health more efficiently, including reducing wait times.

‘It increases patient confidence in the treatment and also helps decrease anxiety they may have around a medical procedure,’ adds Dr Mahindra.

Learn more about the Victorian Government’s Regional Health Infrastructure Fund.


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Last updated: 27 April 2023