May 01
Orange focuses on heart issues in Aboriginal population

Orange Health Service is one of 18 hospitals across Australia implementing the Lighthouse Hospital Project, a project which aims to improve care and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) (heart attack) and related risk factors.

Lighthouse Project Officer for Orange Health Service, Mandy Debenham said the project will focus on several key areas.

“The project aims to ensure Aboriginal patients receive improved access to best practice therapy for ACS in a culturally safe and appropriate environment by identifying practices that can or should be improved in our hospital," Mandy said.

“We are doing this to improve healthcare services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with ACS."

“For example, the identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when they present to hospital is really important to ensure early identification of risk factors that are contributable to ACS and so they receive the care and services needed," Mandy said.

“Making sure the hospital and staff are welcoming to Aboriginal patients and ensuring culturally appropriate resources are accessible is vital. Furthermore, understanding the needs of Aboriginal patients and their families is essential in order to provide the best possible health care."

“Helping patients with ACS means looking at risk factors that damage heart health. Smoking is still a large problem in our Aboriginal population and we want to educate people about its risks and help people quit for the benefit of their health," Mandy said.

“Smoking affects the vessels that supply blood to the heart and other parts of the body. It reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and damages blood vessel walls."

“Being smoke free is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart and your health."

The Health Service would love to hear from the local Aboriginal community about how they can be involved in this project.

Community members who would like to contact Mandy to discuss the project can ring her on 0436 404 209.

The Lighthouse Project is a joint initiative of the Heart Foundation and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health through the Indigenous Australians' Health Program. The project will run until June 2019.

Mandy Debenham is an Aboriginal Registered Nurse who grew up in Nyngan and Bourke. She has extensive clinical skills in acute care and Aboriginal chronic care.