Aboriginal dialysis patients return to country during COVID-19

A group of male and female healthcare workers in a treatment room
Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Service and Dialysis Unit staff
May 26, 2020

The Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group (FSFHG) Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Service, in partnership with the Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) Dialysis Unit, worked hard to support a number of Aboriginal patients return to country during COVID-19.

A total of seven patients were able to head home to Port Hedland during March and April this year.

Some of the patients have been dialysing for nearly two years in Perth.

FSFHG Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer Karen Waigana said the dislocation from  home and having to undergo dialysis treatment in Perth impacted greatly on the overall health and wellbeing of Aboriginal patients. .

“It’s always difficult for regional patients requiring hospital treatment to relocate to Perth but for Aboriginal people there are the additional pressures of being away from country, family, practises, language, and spirit,” Karen said.

“Like so many patients, COVID-19 had an impact on Aboriginal people, however the measures put in place by the hospital to manage the pandemic meant processes could be streamlined to ensure the successful relocation of patients that may not have been possible previously in such a tight timeframe.”

“Being able to gift this vulnerable group, who still live a traditional existence in the Pilbara, the opportunity to receive treatment in their own region has been very gratifying.”

The dialysis unit at the Hedland Health Campus (HHC) accommodated patients at short notice to enable them to be at home.

The great work by the dialysis teams in Port Hedland and FSH and Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Service has, and continues to be, a successful team effort to ensure the best for dialysis patients at FSH.