Armidale welcomes Institute of Driver Health as a new business to launch on Monday

BEGINNING: Dr Joan O'Donnell said the Driver Wellness Clinic was about to be launched in Armidale on Monday, February 17.
BEGINNING: Dr Joan O'Donnell said the Driver Wellness Clinic was about to be launched in Armidale on Monday, February 17.

The Institute of Driver Health was established by Dr Joan O'Donnell and Dr Beth Cheal and caters for a range of needs, including driver assessment and rehabilitation for drivers, family and carers with high needs in all classes of vehicle.

It is also is experienced in safe and comfortable transport for passengers, training for health professionals and driving instructors in driver health and contributing to evidence based practice for drivers with health conditions.

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Dr O'Donnell said the institute was about to set up a clinic in Armidale, the first in rural NSW.

"We're going to call it the Driver Wellness Clinic to do off-road assessments for people who have a medical condition, or had a medical procedure that might effect their ability to drive safely," she said.

"The aim of this clinic is to make [the assessment] very affordable because the way the process goes at the moment is extremely expensive.

"Our aim is also to improve the efficiency of the system. We run three centres in Sydney and we believe there is a huge need for this by people in rural and remote areas."

Dr O'Donnell said the procedure at the moment involved perhaps the patient's family, the family GP, an occupational therapist who is trained as a driver assessor, a driving instructor and the Roads and Maritime Services.

"That costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars because of the time it takes and having to have a dual control vehicle and all that," she said.

"What we've done is split it so the road test is done separately so it is done much cheaper."

She said ongoing screening instead of constant road testing also brought the cost down considerably and gave the same result.

Dr O'Donnell said there were only three occupational therapists trained as driver assessors in this region, and they were severely overworked.

This story Institute of Driver Health to launch in Armidale on Monday first appeared on The Armidale Express.