Ex-Fremantle Dockers player, Noongar and Yamatji man Des Headland and doctor Vivek Eranki opened an Indigenous-owned day hospital in Boorloo’s (Perth) eastern suburbs on Friday.
Mr Headland and Mr Eranki established The West Coast Surgical Institute as a way to help improve the health care of First Nations people in Boorloo.
Headland said this had been a vision years in the making.
“Now that we’re in the surgical part of our business as well we’re really excited to see what we can deliver for our community in a different way,” he said.
“And all come together to make Closing the Gap a bit easier across WA first and then who knows what can happen after that.”
The WCSI is an expansion of the Spartan Occupational Health Services. WCSI offers surgeries spanning from oral and dental, to orthopaedic, to cosmetic, to general surgery.
The day hospital is made up of two operating theatres, five recovery bays and can accommodate up to 10 patients a day.
This comes at a time where WA has the lowest number of public hospital beds per person in Australia.
Medical Advisory Committee head Mr Eranki said the hospital planned to staff based on patient need.
“The hospital has to demonstrate sufficient staff to get the license in the first place which means all the leadership positions being taken,” Eranki said.
“As well as the nursing positions as well, we also have administrative officers in Subiaco.
“But obviously as it gets busier and busier we will be flexing up by engaging with temp agencies or engaging with more staff members as well.”
The day hospital was opened on Friday by WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti.
Ms Sanderson said Indigenous people were overrepresentated on key healthcare issues.
“It is a very challenging time and I have to say Aboriginal people are overrepresented on those lists in terms of managing chronic disease and illness,” she said.
“So we’re very happy to talk about how we can partner going forward and how we can bring that number down.”
Mr Buti said the clinic was a welcome contribution to Perth’s eastern suburbs.
“To have the ability to have surgical procedures in the Eastern corridor is very, very limited and when it comes to people of an Indigenous background there’s a large population in the Eastern corridor,” he said.
“And to have an Aboriginal controlled organisation involved in the partnership here is also brilliant.
“So this has two major benefits for closing the gap health outcomes for providing a accessibility to First Nations people, and also employment opportunities.
“It is a double whammy as far as I think the benefits for First Nations people.”
Mr Headland said the clinic hoped to engage with Indigenous community in the Eastern suburbs as part of its outreach program.
“We’re looking forward to accessing Indigenous health care as well,” he said.
“There’s a lot of programs around this area that we can tap into we want to work closely with Derbarl Yerrigan Health Services in the Eastern corridor section out to Maddington.
“I’ve spoken to CEO Tracy Brand about this and they’re very excited to see what the partnership can look like and how we can work together to close the gap on those waiting lists as we all know.”
WCSI will welcome its first patients on August 12.