Home is where the heart is

Posted 13 Jul 2022

New culturally appropriate and convenient accommodation at Flinders will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cardiac surgery patients to recover in an environment that is conducive to healing.

Flinders Medical Centre Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit undertakes over 30 per cent of all cardiac surgeries in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population across Australia.

Each year, more than 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, and their families or carers, from South Australia and the Northern Territory attend Flinders Medical Centre for cardiac surgery care. Cardiac surgery care includes pre-operative preparation and post-operative recovery, as well as the surgery itself. In all, cardiac surgery patients require ongoing monitoring for a minimum of two weeks, resulting in a long stay away from home.

Previously, the main source of accommodation available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cardiac surgery patients were hostels dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The hostels offered no medical support and are located 45 minutes from Flinders Medical Centre, with limited transport available.

Now, thanks to Masonic Charities, with support from Flinders Foundation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cardiac surgery patients, and their families or carers, have a new place to stay within the Flinders precinct.

A building onsite has been renovated into a two-bedroom unit, which will offer a culturally welcoming and safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cardiac surgery patients to heal and regain their independence.

The new accommodation will provide access to immediate cultural support through Aboriginal Health Practitioners employed by Flinders Medical Centre, who can visit the patients, and their families or carers, regularly to provide advice and assistance. It will also give families and carers the flexibility to visit at any time.

Associate Professor Jayme Bennetts, Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery, said the focus of the care would include both the physical and spiritual wellbeing of patients, and their families.

“A special bond is formed between the staff and patients and their families, who often travel long distances, removed from traditional supports to a foreign major hospital to receive cardiac surgery. Relationships are vital. Families are a major part in the recovery process, so patients can return to their communities and live longer and healthier lives,” A/Prof Bennetts said.

“This support will also be culturally appropriate, with education, health and prevention information delivered by dedicated Aboriginal Health Practitioners, unique to the Cardiothoracic Surgical Unit team at Flinders Medical Centre. Specialist post-discharge care from hospital through the use of extended care arrangements (Hospital at Home) also allows earlier and supported discharge.”

Masonic Charities, the charitable arm of Freemasons SA/NT, has provided $63,000 towards the upgrade.

Grand Master of the Freemasons of SA and NT David Booker said that having cardiac surgery can be distressing for patients, their carers and families, especially when far from home.

“It is hoped the financial contribution by Freemasons for this onsite hospital accommodation will provide comfort and support for patients and an element of cultural safety for Indigenous patients who are often a long way from home and in a very foreign environment,” Mr Booker said.

“As one of the world’s oldest and largest charitable organisations, Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with values such as integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. Freemasons SA & NT also is focussed on promoting positive outcomes for health and relieving distress in the community.”

I’m delighted we can help the Flinders Foundation with its new project.

David Booker, Grand Master of
the Freemasons of SA and NT


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