Our volunteer cardiac team have just returned from Timor-Leste after holding cardiac screening clinics in mid October 2022. Dr Elizabeth Paratz, shares her experience here.
The 3-day clinic was an enormous success, reviewing a total of 120 patients. This was the largest clinic since the COVID-19 pandemic and it was great to feel fully operational again. We were based at the Hospital Nacional Guido Valdares (HNGV) for the first 2 days, with an outreach trip to Baucau on the third day.
The team led by cardiologists Dr Simon Eggleton and Dr Elizabeth Paratz, was a mix of Australian clinicians and Timorese colleagues including doctors, healthcare workers and nurses. It was a fabulous team with very high morale and efficiency.
Of the 120 patients we saw, 25 require surgery. This is an extraordinarily high rate and is a testament to the excellent referral processes of Maluk Timor and HNGV in identifying the most suitable patients to come to clinic for evaluation.
Patients who live in rural and remote areas can struggle to afford to travel to a clinic. We offered them a small travel allowance to enable them to attend.
A very common theme we encountered during the clinics was that of non-vaccination against COVID due to concerns regarding vaccines causing heart damage. Reassurance was provided to our patients that they would be much safer with some protection against COVID. Maluk Timor is also comprehensively liaising with all patients to ensure they are protected. Such initiation of primary care for patients who were too fearful to get vaccinated was another important benefit for our patients attending the clinics.
One of the most rewarding parts of the clinics was seeing some beautiful babies born to our post-operative patients. It is always wonderful to see our patients who have undergone successful interventions in Australia. But it is especially exciting to see such tangible evidence of how their life-saving intervention has enabled a whole new life for them and their families.
Following an extremely busy clinic, the next step is to secure operative spots for all our patients. We hope to undertake several more procedures in Australia before the end of 2022. With your ongoing support, we hope to start 2023 enthusiastically with more clinics and interventions than ever before.