Susan’s message to others…
Behind every hepatitis C diagnosis is a unique story and fascinating history, and our role is to reach out to all people in an engaging, supportive and non-discriminatory way.
Hepatitis C Outreach Clinic Nurse Consultant
I am a HEP Hero because I am highly motivated, energetic and vocal in trying to break down the barriers and stigma that face individuals with hepatitis C. In my work I often need to step up to the plate and be a voice for the voiceless.
My career began when I graduated from a degree in Laboratory Medicine and started working as a Medical Scientist at Austin Health.
I took a keen interest in liver disease and our department was instrumental in the transplantation of livers through the work we did. However I have always been interested in the direct care of others, so I quit my laboratory job and enrolled into a Graduate Nursing degree at LaTrobe University.
I was re-employed at Austin Health 2 years later with my first rotation as a Graduate Nurse on 8 West Liver Transplant Ward. I enjoyed building rapport with the patients and their families, many of whom were in long-term care both before and after their transplant. The ward became a second home for them and we collectively tried to foster a sense of hope.
However, I am always looking for new challenges and opportunities to learn and after working on the Liver Transplant ward and then in Infection Control for 1 year, I applied for a job in the hepatitis C Outreach Clinic – and here I am!
In the Outreach clinic we are fortunate to be supported by Austin Health executives who encourage us to think outside the box in the way we run the clinic and engage our clients.
We have stepped away from the outpatient clinics and have introduced a Rapid Access to Treatment model of care.
Each client who is referred to us is called to arrange a time for them to come in and discuss treatment options. With additional staff, we can spend more time with our clients to build trust and rapport which fosters an engaging and respectful relationship.
It is vital for us to spread the message that hepatitis C does not have a single face or story, it is made of many different narratives. I personally have a close family member who I dearly love that continues to struggle with drug addiction, homelessness, and quality health care.
People who present to us are not just drug user’s, they are someone’s child, sister or niece who have a family who love them.
It is essential that the barriers to accessing hepatitis C treatment are broken down, so that people feel comfortable discussing their experiences and will engage in screening and treatment.
We should be grateful to live in a time and a country where the treatment for hepatitis C is free, easy and can provide a cure – so really, it’s a no brainer! GP’s and clinics need to take the time to discuss screening and treatment options with their patients to ensure as many people as possible are cured.