St George eyes off new sight-saving service

The IDEAS (Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening) service was officially welcomed to the St George community at an opening at the Goondir Health Services clinic on Tuesday 13th October. Attendees were able to view the mobile clinic and were informed that without eye screening services like that available by the Goondir Health Services and IDEAS service, individuals with diabetes would go blind.

Goondir Health Services Chairperson Gary White said the mobile service generates outcomes for individuals and the community as a whole.

"The increasing burden of diabetes requires services like ours to support innovative models which increase access to health services, leading to improved detection and management of diabetes related problems," he said.

"The IDEAS service has been made available through our Dalby clinic and will this week commence in our St George clinic. I have heard first-hand the outcomes which can be achieved. Only recently, the IDEAS service advised us that one of our Dalby patients who had received an eye screening in our clinic, was identified by IDEAS specialists as having a serious issue which required surgery. The lack of facilities in the Darling Downs resulted in the IDEAS team engaging the Mater Hospital services to provide urgent medical treatment. As a result the person's sight has been saved."

The IDEAS CEO Lyndall De Marco said the IDEAS service works with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the State.

"We support 21 Aboriginal Medical Services to deliver enhanced diabetes care, with the aim to reduce preventable blindness from diabetes. Services like Goondir have been provided with a retinal camera to screen patients. This local access makes it easier for individuals with diabetes to have their regular eye screening, with referrals made to the IDEAS specialists. Our van travels to regions every 4 weeks, with specialists then able to perform treatment in the IDEAS mobile clinic. The specialists volunteer their services, with no expense incurred to patients. In the last 18 months we have screened and diagnosed about 3,000 people. Of these, 1,100 have been referred for treatment. Without this treatment, they would otherwise go blind," she said.

The Balonne Shire Council Deputy Mayor Richard Marsh congratulated IDEAS and Goondir Health Services for their efforts.

"As a Council, we aim to assist providers to work in our communities and deliver services for the longer-term. A lot of people can't afford the time or expense to travel to major centres to access screening or treatment services. The IDEAS service have provided Goondir Health Services with a camera which will allow retinal screening to be undertaken each day. This service is proof that the health of our community has the opportunity to improve," he said.

The IDEAS service is funded as a three year pilot through $5 million funding by Queensland Health to the Diamond Jubilee Partnerships Ltd., a subsidiary of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Australia. Partners include CheckUP, Diabetes Qld, Princess Alexandra Hospital's Diabetes and Endocrinology Dept., Royal Flying Doctor Service, Royal and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologist, Optometrist Association Australia, UQ Centre for On-line Health, Royal College of General Practitioners, Australian College Rural Remote Medicine, Volvo and Kurtz Transport. Goondir Health Services and IDEAS encourage Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with diabetes to maintain annual eye screening. Individuals aged over 40 years, who are diabetic and/ or pregnant can receive a free eye screening at the Goondir Health Services St George clinic. To make an appointment call 07 4625 5040.

Media contact: Louise Sanderson 0437 100 759