Clinical Nurse Consultant - Infectious Diseases
"I am a Hep Hero because I want all people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C to have the capability to access healthcare, whether they are in rural, regional or metropolitan areas."
I’m Cinderella, having moved from a large city in British Columbia, Canada to Castlemaine 17 years ago after falling in love with an Australian. I studied many courses at university; premed science, teaching and art history before settling on nursing. I remember my aunt, who was a nurse, saying that nursing was hard work for nominal pay! However, I pursued this direction and haven’t really looked back!
I was 12 when my uncle, a Métis man, died of a liver problem. He was always telling us kids to take good care of ourselves and to be safe. I believe he had hepatitis B, which I know has a higher prevalence rate for indigenous Canadians as it does for indigenous Australians.
I first began formally working with hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV whilst in my role as infection control consultant, whereby I was trained as a bloodborne virus counsellor. I really enjoyed the opportunity to hone my communication skills when discussing difficult topics with staff and patients. I have also worked as an infectious diseases clinical nurse consultant since our clinic opened in 2007: caring, managing and treating people affected by hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Our Infectious Diseases Service at Bendigo Health in Victoria provides care for people in the Loddon Mallee region, which incorporates 26% of Victoria. This region has one of the highest rates of hepatitis C notifications outside metropolitan areas and our service, like many others, is struggling to meet demand. Having worked predominantly in rural and regional areas of Victoria, Australia, I see the impacts geography can make on a person’s health.
It’s important for state and federal governments, healthcare professionals, community members and those people affected by hepatitis to work constructively together. Raising the profile of hepatitis B and hepatitis C will assist to reduce stigma and discrimination, reduce new infections, reduce the burden of liver disease in the future and improve people’s quality of life. Participating in the Hep Hero program will make you feel good!