Pilbara-based outreach clinic Mawarnkarra Health Service celebrates major milestone

Alexander ScottPilbara News
The Mawarnkarra Health Service has celebrated some milestones.
Camera IconThe Mawarnkarra Health Service has celebrated some milestones. Credit: Supplied/Mawarnkarra Health Service

The first Aboriginal medical service to establish a Perth outreach clinic has celebrated six years of operating the clinic and has completed its first kidney transplant.

The Mawarnkarra Health Service, named after the Yindjibarndi word meaning “one with power to heal” and launched in 1985, began operating as an outreach clinic in 2016 because of concerns about the lack of support its patients received when they travelled from the Pilbara to the city for medical care.

The service provides support for local Indigenous people when they are receiving care in Perth for medical treatments such as dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation. It currently helps up to 15 people a week.

Mawarnkarra Health Service outreach worker Jodie Jackson said the assistance she offered ranged from taking patients to their accommodation to attending appointments and translating complex medical terms.

“When they have their appointments, if they’re not confident going in on their own, I’ll go in with them and say ‘If you don’t understand something give me a nod’, and then we can pull it back so they understand,” she said.

“Doctors use all these big words and I’ll simplify it and say how it is and they respect that.”

Ms Jackson said the program had helped a 28-year-old woman with lifelong kidney issues to have a successful kidney transplant late last year.

“She’s been part of my program ever since I started it six years ago,” she said.

“She used to do dialysis four days a week. Once the dialysis centre opened up in Mawarnkarra she was able to do her dialysis there and she would come down to see the transplant mob, the doctor at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth.

“And then we got the phone call and she had the transplant done in December.

“It was absolutely fantastic — she’s going great guns. She’s gone from having to do dialysis — which was 8.30am in the morning to 2.30pm in the afternoon, and that’s four days a week — to having a life. She’s thriving now.”

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