A new collaborative partnership has helped to improve the hearing outcomes for Aboriginal children in WA.
Cockburn Integrated Health has set up a monthly specialist ear nose and throat clinic in partnership with Telethon Kids Institute and Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation.
At Rockingham General Hospital, this has so far contributed to improved hearing outcomes for 32 Aboriginal children.
Studies have shown that Indigenous children have the highest rates of ear disease and associated hearing loss in the world. Such a loss significantly impacts their development, schooling and longer-term employment opportunities.
Through the clinic, Aboriginal children from across the Perth metropolitan area are seen by an ENT specialist and receive timely surgical intervention, if needed.
RGH Medical co-director surgery and specialist care Andrew Thompson said he thought it was a great opportunity when he was approached by Dr Francis Lannigan earlier this year to see if RGH could facilitate a monthly surgical list for Aboriginal children as part of CIH’s ENT specialist clinic.
“The executive team were very supportive and to have someone as experienced as Francis performing ENT surgery at RGH was a welcomed addition to the team,” Mr Thompson said.
Since January 2021, Dr Lannigan has performed 32 surgeries at RGH, seeing approximately four to five Aboriginal children once a month with the support of the Day Procedure Unit, operating theatres and Post Anaesthetic Care Unit.
Dr Lannigan said the monthly surgical list at RGH had run smoothly over the past 10 months with grommets being the most common procedure, but he also performed other day surgeries such as adenoidectomy and ear drum grafting.
“Family feedback about their experience has been very positive,” Dr Lannigan said.
“It’s a really important program to be involved with, being able to treat people with respect and dignity, and working to provide equitable access to health care.”
Rockingham Peel Group Aboriginal health liaison officer Liza Kerley provides support to families and patients during their day surgeries at RGH which she says can be “quite daunting”.
“I help families navigate their way around the hospital and with filling out paperwork,” Ms Kerley said.
“It has been really rewarding knowing we are able to help these kids in their early years, which will help to improve their quality of life overall.”
Since the ENT specialist clinic started at CIH in late 2019, more than 200 Aboriginal children have been treated, with surgery organised for almost 70 children at RGH and St John of God Murdoch Hospital.