A passion for offering affordable, quality oral health care in regional communities has seen two former locals return to practise dentistry in Mount Isa.
After five years away studying dentistry at James Cook University in Cairns and completing her placement in Tasmania, Dr Elchèr Hepburn returned to Mount Isa in January to take a role as a dentist at Queensland Country Dental.
"I chose to come back to Mount Isa as practicing rural gives you the opportunity to gain a lot of experience and I felt it would be perfect as my parents and sister are also here," Dr Hepburn said.
"I love small towns and how friendly and personable the communities are, and it was particularly hard being located in Tasmania during COVID-19 and unable to see my family at all.
"I feel right at home back in Mount Isa, and everyone has been so welcoming. I am enjoying meeting and getting to know all my patients and colleagues and look forward to building long lasting relationships with them."
Queensland Country Dental's Senior Dentist, Dr Tia Riggs, returned to Mount Isa from Brisbane in 2019, and says the move gave both her and her partner the opportunity for career progression and to spend more time together. She says the Mount Isa community has embraced the dental practice, which opened in 2018 and services both Queensland Country Health Fund Members and the wider community.
"Health care is a right, not a luxury afforded to just those living in metropolitan cities, and locals appreciate that we offer quality, affordable dental care so our patient base has grown considerably," Dr Riggs said.
"It is common in Mount Isa to have locum health professionals who stay for a period of time to gain rural experience and then return to the cities.
"Preventative dental care is a focus for us, so we wanted to recruit a dentist who is familiar with the community and can offer a longstanding relationship to our patients so they feel comfortable seeing us regularly.
"Elchèr shares our passion for a patient-centric approach, discussing treatment options with the patient to individually tailor their treatment and overall care, and we are delighted to have her at our practice."
Dr Hepburn said she is proud to play a role in providing quality healthcare services in Mount Isa.
"Quality health care is so crucial in a regional community because people cannot afford to drive nine hours or fly to the nearest major town for six monthly check ups, and particularly not in emergency cases when they are in pain," she said.
"It is great to have a good, quality and affordable health care option right around the corner, and I am excited to be part of improving the oral health of the community."
Queensland Country Dental is located on Camooweal Street, Mount Isa.
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