Mobile clinic has top vision
A specialist eye health van has made its first stop in the Pilbara to bring high-technology care to local patients.
The Lions Outback Vision Van and its team of three ophthalmologists and one nurse has started its first round trip around regional WA, treating a range of eye conditions using the latest testing equipment.
It set out about a month ago and has visited Onslow and Karratha in the past few weeks.
Senior ophthalmologist Chathri Amaratunge said the van was fitted out with advanced eye-testing equipment that “you can’t get anywhere else” in the regions.
“We’ve pretty much got the newest equipment on this van,” she said.
“It means a much bigger proportion of people now are going to have the same level of care up here as what they would have down in the city.
“It means that pretty much any test that you want as an ophthalmologist, you can get done on this van. So it’s going to save a lot of trips down to Perth.”
The van was launched in March by WA Deputy Premier Liza Harvey to reduce rates of preventable vision loss in regional areas.
Dr Amaratunge said demand for their services was high in the Pilbara. “There’s definitely a lot of patients up here,” she said.
“And the repeat customers are people who definitely need to be seen, which means that they would definitely have to come down to Perth otherwise.”
The van’s communications were set by Telstra on the high-speed 4GX network, allowing doctors to quickly download patient data and conduct video conferences in regional areas.
Telstra area general manager Boyd Brown said they were proud to see the network technology support an important health service.
“Health-care delivery is evolving rapidly and new technology is helping us deliver services in new and more cost-effective ways,” he said.
“This van is one way we have to better help those in our regions and we are proud to be able to assist this program by providing network coverage in the towns it will visit.” The van will return to Karratha and surrounding Pilbara towns in August. Visit outbackvi sion.com.au/outback-vision-van/.
Nurse Sharon Brown and ophthalmologists Irene Tan and Chathri Amaratunge with Telstra WA North business development manager Alan Shepherdson.