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Mobile eye health van seals partnership with public hospital

20/02/2019By Myles Hume
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The Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening (IDEAS) Van has forged a new partnership with the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQ Health), in a move set to bring eyecare closer to home for hundreds of patients.

Under the agreement, CQ Health will run eye clinics from the IDEAS Van facilities at its Gladstone and Emerald hospitals for patients who have been referred by a GP.

The IDEAS Van is a fully equipped, mobile eye treatment clinic originally designed to screen and treat Indigenous people living in remote parts of Queensland. However, the project’s leaders realised that other remote communities could benefit through partnerships with public hospitals.

CQ Health rural and district wide services executive director Mr Kieran Kinsella said the new initiative would be hugely beneficial for the region. On average, 57 patients every month needed to travel from Emerald to either Rockhampton (270km), or Brisbane (870km) for ophthalmological services.

kieran kinsella
kieran kinsella
“To be able to offer this service in Emerald means these patients and their carers will not have the time, expense and inconvenience of having to travel away from home.”
Mr Kieran Kinsella, CQ Health

“Last year there were 686 patient journeys for this service, which often require an escort. To be able to offer this service in Emerald means these patients and their carers will not have the time, expense and inconvenience of having to travel away from home,” he said.

Since its inception in 2013, the IDEAS Van has travelled more than 233,000kms across Queensland. Almost 6,000 people have been screened and diagnosed, while 3,583 patients have been referred for treatment at an attendance rate of 78%.

The service was temporarily taken off the road last year due to a lapse in State Government funding. However, the Federal Government later intervened with an $860,000 grant, ensuring its survival for a further 12 months.

Without revealing details, project leaders have previously told Insight they are confident the mobile clinic will exist beyond this year and potentially expand into other states, hinting there are more announcements to come.

IDEAS Van CEO Ms Lyndall De Marco said: “The Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service covers an area twice the size of Tasmania, with a population of 227,135. The IDEAS Van’s partnership with Emerald and Gladstone hospitals will ensure that eye treatment is accessible to all their patients, close to home.”

Gladstone Hospital was the first to use the IDEAS Van last week. Emerald Hospital held an open day yesterday, and is expected to run its first clinic today. Further clinics will be held in April, June, August, October and November.

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Federal Government grant saves IDEAS Van from closure

 

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