Integrated Refugee Health Service awarded for compassionate care

25/Aug/2022     HealthMater Group

The dedication of Mater’s Integrated Refugee Health Service to improve the health status of vulnerable and marginalised people in our community has been recognised with the Catholic Health Australia (CHA) Outreach Health Care Award.

The Award was presented at a gala dinner in Brisbane on Tuesday night, 23 August, before 280 delegates gathered for the CHA National Conference in Brisbane.

Presented to Mater’s Integrated Refugee Health Service and Inala Primary Care, the award recognises demonstrated commitment to innovative services, particularly those devoted to improving the health status of people who experience systemic marginalisation, for the Mater Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Health Coordinator Service (M-CHooSe) pilot program.

The M-CHooSe pilot program was developed to address an unmet need in primary care to help marginalised people from CALD communities to improve their health and wellbeing through better access to care.

Mater Director of Refugee Health and Associate Director of Integrated Care Donata Sackey said Mater’s long history in responding to unmet community need continues today in the work being delivered by the Service.

“It’s a great honour to be recognised by CHA, especially during this very difficult period with COVID-19, as the last few years have been very challenging,” Donata said.

“We know that people from CALD, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds have been disproportionately impacted by COVID.

“For our service to pivot and deliver a care coordinated approach when people need the support most, is exceptional, and I am so proud of the team and the extraordinary job they’ve performed in the most difficult of times.”

Catholic Health Australia Chief Executive Pat Garcia said M-CHooSe celebrated the dignity and worth of each human being and the spirit of Jesus’ mercy.

“CALD voices — especially those who have complex social, emotional and medical health conditions — are often at risk of being overlooked or forgotten in our large, complex health system,” Mr Garcia said.

“The work of the M-CHooSe nurses exemplified the interpersonal character of health care, from booking and assisting with patient appointments and obtaining waiting list updates from public hospitals, through to the consistent engagement of high-quality interpreters.

“The M-CHooSe pilot embedded nurse-led coordination into the patients’ GP ‘home’, leading to a level of advocacy beyond just the hospital system, into the areas of disability, social, family and education support, community mental health, medication management and health system navigation.

“It also provided the gift of time, allowing nurses to listen and work through each patient’s individual social and health concerns, creating management plans that are unique and empowering to the patient’s sense of self, spirit and wellbeing.”

Mater Chief Executive Officer Dr Peter Steer congratulated the Integrated Refugee Health Service team on their award.

“The M-CHooSe team are a wonderful example of Mater’s Mission in action,” Dr Steer said.

“They demonstrated outstanding compassion and responsiveness to care for those in our community who are most in need of support. 

“Their work is appreciated by all at Mater and, most importantly, by their patients.”

Photo caption: (L to R) Meryl Jones, Nurse Unit Manager, Mater Refugee Health Service; and Esther Townrow, Clinical Nurse, Mater Refugee Health Service

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