IMPROVING the health of one of the region’s most vulnerable populations has been the focus for Orange Health Service during NAIDOC Week.
The hospital held its ceremony on Thursday, including a flag raising, acknowledgement of country, dancing and a barbecue lunch complete with cake, with more than 60 people in attendance.
But general manager Catherine Nowlan said the full appreciation of the theme, ‘Because of her, we can’, came via a sustained effort for the entire week.
Health professionals shared stories about their own Aboriginal heritage and how the strong women in their lives inspired them to succeed in their adult careers, as well as about the Aboriginal patients they treated.
“One of our health leaders said she had the opportunity to meet the most wonderful Aboriginal lady and her family embraced her because she was part of the care team,” Ms Nowlan said.
“She said it was the simple things we do every day that make the difference.
“It’s all about creating a world worth living in and a responsibility to understand each other’s cultures.”
Orange Health Service has an Aboriginal component in its staff inductions on the need to involve the whole family in a patient’s treatment, as well as social conventions.
If you haven’t asked the question, how do you know? So it’s about giving the right and appropriate care.Orange Health Service general manager Catherine Nowlan
However, Ms Nowlan said there had also been extra training in July to help 370 staff members be more comfortable in asking patients when they arrived at the hospital as to whether they identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
“By asking the question, it helps us improve the identification of patients,” she said.
“For example, if they answer yes, there is a policy where we automatically do an [electrocardiography test] after a certain age, even if they haven’t presented with chest pain, because there’s significant health concerns around heart disease.
“If you haven’t asked the question, how do you know? So it’s about giving the right and appropriate care.”
Ms Nowlan said the week’s activities drew positive feedback from staff.
“I received one email that said they had enjoyed the heart-warming stories of success and positivity and it had been a real treat,” she said.
NAIDOC Week celebrates Indigenous culture and achievements and is normally held in July across the country, but later in Orange due to its cold winters.
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