Free Health Clinics
Bridging Health’s initial solution to the challenges faced by the Tanna community was to provide health care to the Tanna
Island community via free health clinics. These clinics took place once or twice a year, with a contingent of Australian Health Care workers plus support crew. They operated a mobile health clinic out of the town of Lenakel at the local hospital, and also in villages across the island.
The aim was for the team to carry out the clinic for one week with time also being spent undertaking a comprehensive fact find through visiting remote locations on the island to ascertain the full extent of need. Non-medical support crew accompanied each mobile health clinic to assist with basic tasks, recording and documenting the work being done and most importantly to reach out to key local
stakeholders. The role of non-medical volunteers is critical to the smooth operation of the Clinics.
The 2015 mission involved ten Bridging Health team members spending 8 days on Tanna, working in partnership with local staff at Lenakel Hospital, delivering the following services:
A wound care clinic;
One education session for local health care workers about wound care;
Provided a range of wound care dressings and medical supplies;
Visiting local villages to assess standards of health care;
Met with a variety of government and not-for-profit organisations to assess who is already providing health care, and what services are available.
How does a mobile health clinic work?
The mobile health clinic has been designed to deliver care independently, but in partnership with local Tanna health services. As resources are hard to come by locally, we provide all of our own health care items for the clinics. One exception to this is pharmaceuticals. As the legalities of importing pharmaceuticals
into Vanuatu is prohibitive, we have established a partnership with Lenakel Hospital, which has allowed us to use locally sourced pharmaceuticals for our clinics.
This will become critical in subsequent visits as we plan to include a doctor or health practitioner as part of all future clinic teams.
Consideration and plans are being made to ensure that the assistance provided by Bridging Health is helpful to the local community, and does not in any way, infringe on the finite resources that the local agencies have available. In other words, with the exception of pharmaceuticals, we come fully equipped.
A pre-treatment area is established at each clinic location for patients to be welcomed and prepared for being attended to by our
doctors and nurses. Some team members are allocated administrative roles to take patient details and usher them to the health care professional they will be seen by.
The clinic is generally made available from 10am until 4pm, however, some days these hours are extended to accommodate for the volume of people attending the clinic.