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This year I worked at Bairo Pite Clinic for 4 weeks in June-July. My usual work is as a GP in suburbia in Newcastle, light years away from my 4th year of work at BPC.

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My goal these days when I go to BPC is to arrive with a project that the staff want done. I want everything as organised as it can be before I arrive, so I can jump in and get things moving quickly. This means that I do a lot of preparation prior to leaving Australia. Most importantly, I want it to be something that can be continued after I leave, so that I have left something which will be part of the ongoing health infrastructure that we take for granted in the developed world.

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This year the project was to assess which staff needed Hepatitis B vaccination and to get the vaccinations started. This sounds simple, but the reality was a different story. In 4 weeks, each individual staff member ( over 100), filled in a questionnaire with assistance from local translators, had individual education, had blood taken and tested, were given group education at the lunchbox meetings, were given results; and vaccinations were started. 45 staff had at least 2 vaccinations within this time frame!!! I challenge any developed world hospital to achieve as much within 4 weeks!!!!

To my surprise, a lot of this ended up as education about “safe sex”. Nothing wrong with that either!

I had incredible help. This project was one which the staff had identified. Given that the estimated incidence of Hepatitis B in Timor Leste is 10%, our staff should be protected. The Timor Leste Ministry of Health are developing a national plan for vaccination of health staff, but it is unknown when this will happen.
The staff were VERY enthusiastic. I would get mobbed at the gate each day when I arrived. “I am due for a vaccination today”. Their fervour was exciting. I had phenomenal assistance from Lourenco, Sidalia, Simoa and Nacio.

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The project could not be finalised within four weeks. Dezi, Alarico and Mena from the counselling unit have continued the process to ensure that staff have their third and fourth vaccinations. It is now a project owned by the long term staff at BPC, not by someone who flits in and out for a short period of time. This is critically important, as the process of staff vaccination will now become something that is addressed for all new staff members.
Whilst at BPC, we also revised the safe management of sharps (needles and scalpels), and I was impressed that they were continuing so many of the practices that were developed in 2014. This year we also developed Sharps Injury Management Protocols, which have been implemented since I left. I am thrilled that this aspect of staff safety is now happening on an ongoing basis.

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Inez adding to the wallpaper of instructions !lunchbox meeting

What has been achieved would not have been possible without the local staff already mentioned as well as Clinic Manager Fi, Drs Dan, Margaret, Charlotte and Joshua.

Ficharlotte and little boy

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I am very grateful for everyone’s help.
I gained so much as an individual again, from my involvement with BPC. I had the opportunity to get to know each staff member as a person, and treasure my ongoing involvement with BPC and the gifts I gain from this.

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