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In the spirit of reconciliation, CheckUP acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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Collaborative support improves paediatric ENT care for children in Cairns

In Cairns, a successful initiative has been changing the landscape of paediatric ear surgery since 2018. CheckUP’s Eye and Ear Surgical Support (EESS) program, in partnership with the Coral Sea Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) team, has introduced a privately funded ear surgery pathway for eligible children in the region, ensuring timely and comprehensive care for those in need.

Through the EESS program, eligible children aged 0-6 years who have attended the Aboriginal Corporation Primary Health Care Service in Mulungu or Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) program, receive direct referrals to Dr. Suki Ahluwalia at Coral Sea ENT plus continued support throughout their surgical journeys.

The collaborative effort between the original referring Aboriginal Medical Service, Coral Sea ENT and Ramsay Surgical Centre has been instrumental in bridging gaps, providing culturally responsive support and enhancing patient outcomes.

Julie Bogner, a Clinical Nurse at Mulungu, reflects on the positive impact of this program, noting how families have benefited from timely and supported care, dispelling old misconceptions about ear health:

“Ten years ago a parent/grandparent said to me “that’s just the way it is”, about discharging ears. We now see that understanding has changed and one of the reasons is because more families have experienced the benefits of accessing timely and supported ENT specialist care.”

­Julie Bogner, Mulungu Clinical Nurse

A successful outcome for a young patient

A recent success for the team was being able to assist a young patient with a history of reoccurring Otitis Media. Both the Ramsay Hospital and the Coral Sea ENT team advised CheckUP that a 9-month old patient had missed two scheduled surgery dates, and they had been unable to contact the patient’s carer due to an unrecorded house move. Thanks to the swift action and coordination between CheckUP’s EESS manager, Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Primary Health Care Service and Mamu Health Service, they were able to make contact with the patient’s mother and provide further patient support for their next appointment. The patient expressed difficulty with arranging transport to their appointment but together Mamu and Coral Sea ENT were able to offer travel support for the patient. As a result, the child was able to attend the rescheduled appointment and received successful bilateral grommet surgery at the Ramsay Surgical Centre in Cairns.

This story highlights the importance of effective communication between teams and support structures in patient care. As we look towards the future, the commitment to provide collaborative support in Cairns continues to pave the way for improved healthcare outcomes, ensuring that every eligible child receives the care they deserve.

“It’s been really rewarding to work closely with the other teams and support improved outcomes for paediatric patients. Early intervention for children and timely referrals for surgery can help prevent future hearing loss and speech and language delays which both play a crucial role in overall child development.”

Jacqui Hawgood, CheckUP Surgical Support Manger

Learn more about the EESS program

The Eye and Ear Surgical Support (EESS) program aims to reduce the instances of avoidable vision and hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, through ensuring timely access to eye and ear surgical care, by strengthening patient pathways and support. Visit our EESS webpage to find out more.

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