Delivering tailored healthcare to remote communities

Date published:
08 Nov 2018

A fly-in, fly-out paediatric outreach clinic delivered by paediatricians, RACP paediatrics  trainees and medical students is increasing access to vital healthcare in the small Aboriginal community of Woorabinda in Central Queensland.

Rockhampton-based paediatrician, Dr Sunday Pam, leads the team and coordinates monthly visits with psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists – so all specialities are in the town at the same time offering convenient service provision.

“Many of the kids experience a lot of behavioural issues – some of which could be related to foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD),” Dr Pam says.

“We hope that in the future we can look deeper into this and deliver solutions. Already there are groups on the social end looking to address this, but medically speaking we have to be able to identify the kids who are affected so we can deliver proper support and services.”

Dr Pam says partnerships with local health providers are pivotal to the outreach service because they ensure community needs are central to decisions about healthcare.

“We have a good relationship with the hospital here and with the general practitioners who run the hospital in Woorabinda,” he advises.

“They call for advice and we call to handover patients and to check the status of our patients. That relationship is very strong.”

Many patients Dr Pam sees have challenging family circumstances that make it difficult to get information about patient health history.

“We do all we can to overcome barriers to service and there are some kids who are very sick, so we send staff out to their homes to bring them in.

“We also serve the farmers who live 50 to 100 kilometres away who cannot come to Rockhampton easily.

The outreach clinic also provides a unique opportunity to expose medical students to the healthcare issues facing patients in a remote part of Australia.

“We use the clinic as a platform to train medical students,” says Dr Pam. “We always go with them, as well as trainee paediatricians. Everybody gains an understanding of what working remotely is.”

Dr Pam works primarily as a Paediatrician at Rockhampton Hospital and he also runs an Indigenous Paediatric Clinic in the city. In addition, he is a Senior Lecturer and Academic Lead at the University of Queensland’s Rural Clinical School in Rockhampton, and serves as a member of the RACP Queensland Regional Committee.

“The main reason I joined the Committee was to gain a greater understanding of what the College is about,” explains Dr Pam, who came to Australia from Nigeria and began practicing through the RACP’s Overseas Trained Physician pathway.

“I enjoyed my work in Nigeria. My work was in a tertiary hospital and I trained medical students and registrars. I was also involved in research and supported government with policy development.

Family reasons led Dr Pam to Australia, where he and his family now enjoy calling Rockhampton home.

Peace Aviation Pilot Howard Veal, Dr Sunday Pam, Greg Barlow (year 4 Medical student), Jed Madden (Year 4 Medical student), Dr Nick Hill ( Paediatric Trainee Registrar).
Peace Aviation Pilot Howard Veal, Dr Sunday Pam, Greg Barlow (year 4 Medical student), Jed Madden (Year 4 Medical student), Dr Nick Hill ( Paediatric Trainee Registrar). 

Dr Sunday Pam meets Dr Callum Weeks (an old student of UQ Rural Clinical School Rockhampton) at APLS course July 2018.

Dr Sunday Pam meets Dr Callum Weeks (a former UQ Rural Clinical School Rockhampton) at  an APLS course July 2018. 

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