Mater Private Hospital Bundaberg addresses region’s geriatrician gap

Mater Private Hospital Bundaberg has welcomed the region’s one and only geriatrician, addressing a significant healthcare gap in a community with a significant ageing population.  

Prior to his move to the Sunshine State, Dr Leo (Shengyang) Liao was a geriatrician and the Clinical Director of Older Persons and Rehabilitation Services at the Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand.

He said his reason for moving to Bundaberg is twofold.

“In Hamilton, the winter is a bit cold – you often get cold hands,” Dr Liao said.

“So, we thought we’d try a warmer place – and I already like the climate here; it's warm all year around.

“The other thing that attracted me to Bundaberg is that there is no geriatrician in the area, and I think I can do a lot for the community.”

More than a quarter of Wide Bay’s population is aged 65 or over, which is substantially higher than the state (17.0%) and national (17.2%) average, according to the 2021 Census.

Dr Liao said the health needs of those aged over 65 are unique, and often complex.

“The core feature of geriatric patients is disability, and one of the major causes of disability in older people is dementia,” Dr Liao said.

“Then there are other conditions such as falls, incontinence, multimorbidity – which is when there are two or more chronic medical conditions presenting in one person at a time – and also polypharmacy, which is when people are using multiple medicines at the same time.

“I like to take a holistic approach and take the whole situation into consideration.

“If I can identify one or two issues and focus on those, we can improve the quality of life of our patients and that can make such a difference to the patient – that’s what we’re aiming to achieve in our care.”  

Mater Private Hospital Bundaberg General Manager Catherine Hackney says Dr Liao’s arrival is addressing an unmet need in the region.

“We are seeing increased demand on the health system to support our older community as they age and our aim is to enhance the quality of life they enjoy,” Ms Hackney said.

“Dr Liao’s expertise in this space will go a long way to ensuring our patients – and their families – have another layer of support as they enter their later years.

“We are thrilled Dr Liao has decided to call our region home and have no doubt he’ll have an indelible impact on how we care for our community.”

Dr Liao was born in China, where he graduated from Zhejiang University School of Medicine, one of the oldest and most prestigious medical schools in the country.

He completed most of his physician training in Auckland and Hamilton in New Zealand, before undertaking his last year of advanced geriatric training at Royal Melbourne Hospital here in Australia. 

Dr Liao has special interests in dementia, depression and anxiety, falls, incontinence, Parkinson’s Disease and other movement disorders, as well as osteoporosis and chronic pain.

In addition to his specialty area of geriatrics, Dr Liao is also qualified in adult General Medicine, and will be able to help younger patients.

Pictured: Dr Leo (Shengyang) Liao.

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