Mawarnkarra Health Service’s Perth outreach celebrates milestones

Did you know Mawarnkarra Health Service (MHS) was the first Aboriginal Medical Service to establish a Perth outreach service?

The service was created amid concern about the lack of support patients were receiving when they travelled from the Pilbara to the city for medical care.

Now the Perth outreach service is celebrating two major milestones – its sixth year of operation and its first patient to receive a kidney transplant.

The service assists Aboriginal people navigate the complex health system as they attend important medical treatments such as dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation.

Mawarnkarra Health Service outreach worker Jodie Jackson has worked for the service since it was established six years ago and now helps between seven and 15 people a week.

Jodie said the assistance she offered ranged from transporting patients to their accommodation to attending appointments to translating complex medical terms.

“When they have their appointments, if they’re not confident going in on their own, I’ll go in with them and say, ‘if you don’t understand something give me a nod’, and then we can pull it back so they understand,” she said.

“Doctors use all these big words, and I’ll simplify it and say how it is and they respect that.

“Before, when people were coming down, they didn’t have any guidance and they didn’t have anyone to help them, whereas now they do.

“I'll get their appointments schedule out, we'll have them all laid out, so we know what we're doing. And they know what they're doing as well.”

One of Jodie’s first patients, a 28-year-old woman who has had lifelong kidney issues, is thriving back at home after the successful kidney transplant late last year.

“She’s been part of my program ever since I started it six years ago,” Jodie said.

“She used to do dialysis four days a week. Once the dialysis centre opened up in Mawarnkarra she was able to do her dialysis there, and she would come down to see the transplant mob, the doctor at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth.

“And then we got the phone call, and she had the transplant done in December.

“It was absolutely fantastic – she’s doing great guns. She’s gone from having to do dialysis – which was 8.30am in the morning to 2.30pm in the afternoon, and that’s four days a week – to having a life. She’s thriving now.”

As busy as she is with frequent flights coming down from the Pilbara, Jodie loves the rapport she has with all her clients.

“You're there for everybody, you’re not just there for one person,” she said.

“I don't just do one job. I go from taking a client to dialysis in the morning, and by the afternoon I could be at King Eddie’s or dealing with someone in rehab or back at the cancer place. So, it's never just one thing we deal with.

“Some of these people haven’t been off Country at all. But they know me. They trust me. I’m their eyes and their ears.”


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