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25 October 2018

Ray and Lorraine Gardner credit a move to Dubbo as the moment that changed their lives.

Ray was working in management at Woolworths at the time. He was reluctantly transferred to the regional centre from Sydney, where the couple had lived all their lives.

“We were so amazed with all the trees and everything in the outback,” Ray says. “We got involved with horses in Dubbo and it’s just continued ever since.”

Today, Ray and Lorraine are back in Greater Sydney, living on a 25 acre property in North Richmond West of Sydney. They spent years showing horses, a pastime they passed on to their daughter Karen, who also lives on the property with her husband.

It’s from this home base that Ray and Lorraine set out to see as much of Australia – and the world – as they can.

“After I retired, we nominated a date and decided to go around Australia in our motorhome,” Ray says. “We left in April and we didn’t get back home until November. We went up to Darwin and around to Perth, across the Nullarbor. It was absolutely fantastic. And in 2020 we’re planning a similar trip again.”

It’s easy for Ray and Lorraine to get away now that Karen is there to manage the workload on their property. What requires more attention is their healthcare.

Both Ray and Lorraine have major health issues to manage. Lorraine had spinal surgery nearly four years ago, getting steel rods put in to stabilise her back. Ray has had numerous operations to remove melanomas, including several lymph nodes. The melanomas required 25 treatments of radiotherapy and then 12 months of chemotherapy treatment. He’s also managing diabetes with medication.

Local GP, Michael Crampton, would update their health information and print off summaries before they left on earlier trips, so they had their medical record on-hand if needed.

“We’d always take our records along with us because if we happened to lose a script we could say this is what the doctor used to give us,” Ray says. “Then we read in the paper about My Health Record and were told by Michael that it was coming up – that’s how we got involved. We thought it was the best thing ever.”

First off the rank

North Richmond is part of the Hawkesbury-Nepean region, which took part in the My Health Record trial in 2016. Ray and Lorraine have seen My Health Record evolve into the system that’s available today.

“Michael was right into My Health Record, he was one of the main instigators of it. We thought it was a good idea. You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Lorraine says.

She has good reason to be cautious. Lorraine is allergic to penicillin, so is able to record this in her My Health Record so it’s available to doctors when they’re on the road.

“Your own doctor has your records, but when you’re travelling, that doctor doesn’t know you,” Ray says. “If the doctor can look up your record and say ‘ah they’ve had this and that,’ it makes it so much easier. Then they can make a quicker decision on what they need to do.”

Keeping track

While there’s been lots of discussion about the security of My Health Record, Ray says personally, he’s not concerned.  

“I wouldn’t even worry if someone could have a look at it,” Ray says. “If I’ve got a problem and I’m in the hospital and a doctor needs my records, they can know as much as they need. It’s going to save lives.”

Lorraine says My Health Record is the future of healthcare, no matter how old you are or how often you travel.

“I think everyone should have a My Health Record,” she says. “If you have an accident, it’s there. People have access to your record and can make the right decisions about your care.”