A GOLD standard specialist service to benefit people living with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders launched in Coffs Harbour on Friday 8 September.
“This means patients in and around Coffs Harbour now have access to the best movement disorder specialists in the world right on their doorstep,” said Mid North Coast Local Health District’s acting Chief Executive Lydia Dennett at the launch presentation.
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“It’s a great example of how our networked health system is working to improve patient care right across the state.”
Movement Disorder Specialist Dr Hugo Morales Briceno will fly up to Coffs once a month to see patients in face-to-face clinics as well as via telehealth consults, supported by a Parkinson’s Clinical Nurse Consultant in Coffs Harbour.
The term ‘movement disorders’ refers to a group of neurological conditions that cause either increased movements or reduced or slow movements.
Parkinson’s disease is a common movement disorder.
World-renowned for his work, Director of the Movement Disorders Unit at Westmead Hospital, Dr Victor Fung, said the innovative program is leading the way in clinical service delivery, will provide research opportunities along the way, and importantly reaches rural regions.
“The reality is that 93 percent of specialists reside in the metropolitan areas, leaving only seven percent in rural and regional Australia.
“With this service we’re aiming to bridge that gap,” Dr Fung said at the Coffs Harbour launch.
“As part of this program, specialists will also work to connect patients with clinical studies and emerging therapies,” he said.
Treasured in the community for his long-standing and dedicated support service, Coffs Harbour Parkinson’s Clinical Nurse Consultant Vince Carroll said the service helps patients to take control of their movement disorder and optimise their quality of life.
Vince and Dr Fung are credited with hatching the plan several years ago to have the in-person and telehealth service in Coffs Harbour, collaborating with “a village of well-connected people” to bring the plan to fruition.
“And now it’s here,” Vince told News Of The Area, beaming the biggest smile.
“The service entails a specialist neurologist flying in to Coffs once a month, and every other week we do Telehealth services with the patients here and the specialist in Westmead.”
According to Vince, the local service means patients will no longer have to travel to Sydney for their treatment.
“That saves them the cost of traveling, the carer burden of taking someone to an appointment in Sydney and their overnight stays.”
“We have already seen major improvements using the new treatments; patients have been assessed, treatments initiated and followed through and when they come back a couple of weeks later, we can already see their quality of life has improved,” said Vince.
Paul Grant from Middle Boambee was diagnosed with Parkinson’s fifteen years ago.
“Things were very different then,” Paul told NOTA.
“It’s tremendous to see this service in Coffs now, it will take a lot of stress out of treatment and will certainly improve patients’ quality of life.”
The launch saw demonstrations of other support services already being made good use of amongst movement disorder patients.
Guests watched a demonstration of seated dance movements and a boxing class.
Both sessions, filled with upbeat music, saw patients full of vigour and enjoying the social interaction with their fellow performers which they share in these sessions as part of their quality-of-life maintenance program.
The presentation at the Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium on Bray Street was attended by locals with movement challenges, service providers, MNCLHD executives, Dr Victor Fung, Dr Hugo Morales Briceno, Mary Kay Walker, Acting Chief Executive Officer Parkinson’s NSW, and Graeme Loy, Chief Executive Western Sydney Local Health District.
An education evening for GPs and health professionals will be held on Thursday 21 September to provide an overview of the new Movement Disorders service, including information about how to refer patients.
For more information, call 6659 2333.
By Andrea FERRARI
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