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April 2015

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(Back) Eastern Health continuing care, ambulatory, mental health and statewide services executive director Matt Sharp, continuing care program director Damian Gibney, associate program director of specialty medicine Dean Jones, redesign facilitator Katrina Hall, community health operations and development manager Michelle Fleming, Aboriginal health team co-ordinator Andrew Kaias, (front) senior Aboriginal youth mental health advisor Patrice Lewis, senior Aboriginal service development officer Vera Webber, director of organisational development Benaifer Sabavala, Aboriginal hospital liaison officer Jo Voce, ED computer system administrator Kathy Horwill and allied health social work associate director Tass Kostopoulos.

Eastern Health encouraged to ask question

Eastern Health is starting to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are identified and referred to their most appropriate services.

An audit in 2013 revealed many patients were slipping through the cracks by not being asked if they were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin at the point of admission.

‘A committed group of staff from across Eastern Health began a detailed improvement initiative which has been overseen by our Closing the Health Gap committee,’ said executive director of continuing care, ambulatory, mental health and statewide services Matt Sharp.

A team of representatives from across the organisation then developed a standardised process.

‘Guidelines have been developed to ensure staff understand to ask the question and explain this to the patient if they have any queries,’ Mr Sharp said.

Eastern Health’s aim is to ensure every patient is asked the question upon admission, something Eastern Health’s senior Aboriginal services development officer Vera Webber said was vital to help close the health gap.

‘If we don’t give these patients the opportunity to identify as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, we are denying them the opportunity to be referred to relevant services,’ Ms Webber said.

Frontline staff have been provided with a range of information regarding the process and each have a mouse pad with the guidelines as a reminder.