By Margaret Maccoll
Just over two months ago medical doctor Nova Evans and nursing director Sonia Goodwin decided to make an impact in the community and that needed some thinking outside the box.
“We thought of the people who needed the biggest impact and the homeless statistics were quite alarming,” Dr Evans said.
Gathering a multidisciplinary team together Sunny Street, a free, mobile volunteer health service, is now making a difference to the health of the most vulnerable people on the Sunshine Coast.
Operating from Gympie to Brisbane CBD Sunny Street has brought together hundreds of volunteer doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and administration workers to operate two-hour clinics each week.
“A lot of people are experiencing hardship and don’t have Medicare cards. There’s a stigma of drug use, substance abuse. There’s accessibility problems. They don’t have transport,” Dr Evans said.
“A lot have a background of trauma and have a distrust of systems.
“We come to them in the environment that they’re comfortable in.
“It’s wonderful, incredibly rewarding work. It’s quite overwhelming at times. One of the surprises has been people’s struggle with weight and nutrition, not having access to good food and kitchens.”
Wound care was another area found to be much needed among people who were vulnerable or homeless. Dr Evans said they found people just making do – wrapping their wounds in toilet paper – and they were able to offer them professional care.
“It’s wonderful having time to spend with patients,” she said.