Horsham's Read Street Medical Clinic has a full contingent of doctors for the first time in years.
And the practice manager says the benefits are being felt right across the city's health system.
Heather Parker said five new doctors had arrived since the start of 2020. These include two new GPs, a new neurologist and a new paediatrician.
The most recent to start has been GP Dr Sri Kota, who began in June, and is the wife of another new GP Dr Ashababu Thadi.
"When we only had two GPs, we had to turn people away and get them to go to the emergency centre because you can't overbook," she said.
"It's lovely for the receptionists in Read Street to be able to put people in, particularly people with sick children: They don't need to be waiting for hours in emergency if it's busy there.
"What we do now is ring the emergency department each day and say 'We've got a certain number of appointments. If you have anyone you need to send over that is not urgent or serious we will see them'.
THE DOCTOR SHORTAGE THROUGH THE YEARS:
"We have never had that ability before, and it's a huge relief we don't have to send people to emergency during this time."
Ms Parker said it had been "a real battle", lasting years, to get GPs to Horsham.
"Dr Thadi was working for Tristar in Horsham nine years ago, and left, but they decided they like the country and that's why they came back," she said.
"We've never had a paediatrician here, and now we have Dr Niroshan Amarasiri. He still lives in Ballarat but he's here all week, and that has been amazing.
"There is a whole range of reasons why its hard to recruit doctors. Schooling was a big one, but now we have the Lutheran college going through to year 12 that's probably seen as helping. We're not the only rural area with this challenge."
Wimmera Medical Centre, which hosts specialists and visiting specialists, incorporates Read Street, which hosts general practitioners.
Ms Parker said GP retention remained an issue in the Wimmera, and that the federal government subsidizing telehealth services had also made a big difference to the practice in 2020.
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"The value has been beyond comprehension," she said. "I have wanted this for years and years, mainly for rural patients. The ability for patients to stay home and have a telehealth consult can't be understated.
"Obviously not everything can be done via telehealth, but there is an awful lot that can be. If a patient needs a new script. for example.
"Even just for regular patients that have had to travel from Beulah or Hopetoun... we have an older population of patients in Horsham, and we have always realised the impact of what travelling means to them.
"I don't know what the government is intending, but I absolutely think it is something they need to continue for rural patients."
Many services have been temporarily added to the Medicare Benefits Schedule to reduce face-to-face consultations the COVID-19 pandemic. These are set to expire on September 30.
The most recent change to the scheme came on July 20, when Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton announced telehealth GP providers would be required to have an existing and continuous relationship with a patient in order to provide telehealth services.
Member for Mallee Anne Webster said she expected telehealth would not be reduced after September, given the pandemic continued to play out across Victoria and Australia.
She said telehealth was a focus of her regional healthcare strategy. "We've managed ten years reform in ten days," she said.
Ms Parker also urged patients to be understanding of the pressure the practice's staff were under, in light of department of health changes such as surgery cancellations.
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