New outreach clinic delivers vital care closer to home

New outreach clinic delivers vital care closer to home

Isaac's mum, Sarah, sitting with Isaac

A new outreach clinic providing specialist echocardiographs for children with heart conditions is helping deliver vital care closer to home for children living in regional NSW.

Children with congenital heart disease, rheumatic disease or acquired cardiac disease, often need regular heart screenings, requiring the expertise of specialist paediatric cardiologists. 

Isaac and his mum, Sarah
An initiative of our Network, the outreach clinic involves specialists from our Network travelling to Bega to perform echocardiographs using specialised equipment during a three-day clinic, hosted four times annually at South East Regional Hospital (SERH), Bega.

For children like four-year-old Isaac from Batemans Bay, the clinic will deliver crucial care closer to home, sparing their families hundreds of kilometres in travel and overnight stays in Sydney. 

Isaac was born with a genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome and has regular appointments at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) for management of his condition. 

Dr Philip Roberts, Head of the Heart Centre for Children at SCHN, says keeping kids closer to home is the ultimate goal, with each clinic expected to save more than 20 families, like Isaac’s, a trip to Sydney.

"We know the strain placed on a family when they are required to travel hundreds of kilometres from home for medical treatment so our hope with this outreach clinic is that we can help avoid that for some of our families by bringing our care to them,” Dr Roberts said. 

“It also provides a wonderful opportunity for us to collaborate with our regional colleagues and to upskill their teams in paediatric care.”

Minister for Regional Health Ryan Park said the clinic will play a crucial role in connecting high quality healthcare to children in the region.

“The specialised services provided by SERH's outreach clinic will support the health and wellbeing of children from the beginning, therefore allowing us to attend to the long-term health of the community."

For children requiring heart screening regularly, the new clinic will make a big difference. 

“We see children from birth to 16 years old with complex conditions from as far south as Mallacoota, north to Bateman’s Bay and west to Jindabyne, so to save even one trip per year makes a huge difference to regional families and the child’s quality of life,” SERH Paediatrician, Dr Caroline Stewart, said. 

Southern NSW Local Health District Clinical Lead Paediatrics, Dr Susie Piper, said being able to offer a service like this locally is an incredible achievement. 

“Saving multiple trips for families is a big deal – this is awesome for families,” Dr Piper said. 

“We have 23 families who would otherwise have to travel to Sydney or Canberra. For the families, knowing the clinic is going to be here every three months, and being able to come to a local clinic is great.”

The outreach clinic forms part of the Cardiac Care for Kids Outreach Program, a pilot program run by our Network in collaboration with federal Department of Health. The program aims to extend outreach medical and nursing support services to rural and remote communities and their local health care facilities.