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Bundjalung Elder Patsy Bundjulahm (butterfly) Nagas is concerned that the Northern Rivers (New South Wales) is under-resourced for dialysis patients and that as the population ages the situation is going to get worse. Patients can face long distances to get treatment and are often forced to hitch rides to obtain dialysis treatment.
Aunty Patsy is a member of the community reference advisory group that has been meeting for the past three years at the Casino Aboriginal Medical Service and does her own dialysis at home.
'We need a support group with the patients and also staff because we get depressed and lonely very quickly, like any chronic disease patients, but because you are tied to a machine you don't have a life,' she said.
Liz Rix has been meeting with the group and is soon to present her PhD thesis on providing better dialysis services for Aboriginal patients in the Northern Rivers. She has also met with doctors, nursing staff and necrologists (kidney specialists) and is doing her research through the Sydney University School of Public Health.
Aunty Patsy said it would be helpful if medical staff had cross-cultural training, so they better understood how to help Aboriginal patients.
Chief executive of the Northern NSW Local Health District, Chris Crawford said they had two strategies for helping people in outlying areas; enhanced services for home dialysis patients and education to prevent or manage kidney disease so dialysis is not required.
Source: Northern Rivers echo